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Over at the forums, Gins’ is doing god’s work by kicking off the “Mojo Book Club” with the Monkey Island-adjacent On Stranger Tides. If you haven’t read it, this is a great—and community-centric—time to do so. And if you have already finished it, why not revisit it? It’s an entertaining read.

The book club kicks off this Thursday, with a new chapter studied and reviewed every week. Make sure you check out this simple outline for more details. Now you, too, can be an intellectual on Thrik’s level.

(Oh, and if you think you can cheat by watching the movie, don’t. The two are barely related.)

Look, we know this isn’t much of an issue anymore: The code-wheel-protected Monkey Island 2 isn’t available for purchase, and even if it was, DREAMM hacks straight through it. Like butter. Furthermore, there are virtual code wheels out there that emulate the tactile feeling of flimsy nineties cardboard.

Which is to say, why not try yet another tool to hack through LeChuck’s Revenge? Introducing The Monkey Island 2 Code Grid. Does it work? Who knows! It was something I developed for the Amiga version of the game a good while ago, and it has gotten me past the copy-protection screen on multiple occasions. (Using those virtual wheels is a true pain.) Maybe it’ll work for you, too? Or maybe it won’t. Either way, give it a shot if you so like.

There’s a lot of chatter both on and about social media today, and for good reasons. Today marks the major shift everyone was anticipating with various degrees of dread and excitement. The takeover has happened: Mojo has moved The Adventurer from Revue to Substack!

“Why” is a whole thing that will be laid out in the next issue—publishing in a few minutes. If you haven’t already, you probably should sign up. Why? Well, you can never have too much Mojo in your life! (And if you already signed up for our Revue newsletter, don’t worry. Your account was ported over to Substack.)

It was meant to be a simple beta release, but after Ronzo couldn’t contain his excitement, we decided to make it public: The Return to Monkey Island Trivia Card Game.

If you played ReMI-proper, the core should be familiar: One hundred cards, four options each, a trivia game for the ages. Of course, ours is a Frankenstein-ed version: Run and play, and see how you rank on the MojoMeter!

Needless to say, this game will contain some ReMI spoilers, so enter at your own risk.

Something that came up in the Mojo interview with Ron and Dave ahead of ReMI’s release was the promise of multiple endings:

Ron: Well, you will be happy to know that I think the ending…there’s a lot of interpretation that can go into the ending.

Marius: That’s what I meant.

Ron: So yeah, I think there will be that. And there’s five variations of the ending, depending on things you did. And they all kind of have different interpretations, and so I think you will find that good, yeah.

Well, it turns out that Ron was off by at least a factor of two, because our team of interns count no fewer than ten endings. Did you find them all? You may wanna refer to Mojo's handy breakdown to compare notes. And it goes without saying, folks who haven’t finished the game yet should stay far away.

Since April they’ve taken questions from the professionals, mitigating the risk of death with regulation harnesses and safety nets, and now at last they’ve worked up the nerve to go BASE jumping. Or as the hobbyists and civilians call it: a Mixnmojo interview. Don’t bother releasing your Monkey Island game without one.

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Join acknowledged heartthrobs elTee and Marius (in his Mojo debut!) as they chat up Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman about their much-ballyhooed return to the shores of Monkey Island -- a sequel which is so hotly anticipated, we’re actually starting to have to consider paying our server costs up through its release date. I’m rather excited myself to see how much of the interview ended up making it past the Lucasfilm brand director, so let’s all enjoy it together.

In the wake of DREAMM, our resident Luddite Jason has sharpened his pen and thrown a critical look at obtaining uncompromised versions of original LucasArts classics. Some poor saps* might think the Special Editions of the first Monkey Island duology contain the classic versions of the games—these people are sadly incorrect.

So, what’s the deal then? Are the differences that big? Jason investigates in “The Poxy Custodianship of Monkey Island”—the first of many articles planned for this topic.

* Not my words, nor really Jason’s, but he strongly implies it.

This is a rather momentous year, and was shaping up to be that way before we came down with an aggravated case of Return to Monkey Island. That announcement would have been enough to dine out on through December 31st, but you might recall that we were already celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Curse of Monkey Island*, the third and in some respects most influential Monkey Island game.

And while we can’t speak for how you were celebrating it, we were doing it the Mojo way: By kidnapping Jonathan Ackley and Larry Ahern, trapping them in a giant bottle, foisting 600 questions on them to answer in longhand, and occasionally reminding them that air holes are for closers. The end result is right here for your discerning entertainment. If Lucasfilm doesn’t see fit to give this game a remaster, you know who not to blame.

*Not to mention Mixnmojo itself, as the fan scene and CMI are very much joined at the hip in that babymaking heyday of early internet access that was the mid-to-late-90s.

You’ll sometimes see people bellyache about how the post-Ron Monkey Island games got the personalities of certain characters wrong. Elaine was never that lovey-dovey, they’ll say. “There was never any precedent in LeChuck’s psychological profile to suggest that he would favor slaw so much, by Jove!” We’ve all heard that at some point. “Wasn’t Wally a lot hornier in his original depiction, what with the love bomb and all?” Ten times a day, I think I get that one.

Of course, it’s all the raving delusions of the hoodwinked, because the fact is that ruining characters isn’t the province of subsequent teams – the practice goes all the way back to Monkey Island 2, at the hands of the original writers. The victim: Stan. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Prepare your innocence for departure and read our new indictment, which like all formal charges are brought with the aid of EGA screenshots. Be warned: we don’t pull punches.

The appendix of the Freelance Police folio threatened that it would be a “living document” to be updated if new material ever came to light. Though successful in nabbing most of the key team members for interviews that would inform the article, I was unable at the time to make contact with Steven Chen – a regrettable omission, as he was Lead Designer on the game.

You may be familiar with Chen from his work on Indiana Jones and Infernal Machine; his Indy bona fides were later leveraged on Staff of Kings (the cancelled, good version). In the middle there, he also had a dalliance with Double Fine where, as one of the original employees, he worked on Psychonauts for the first two of its sixty years in production.

Well, now you’re about to be more familiar: Mojo bumped into Chen by chance at a monster truck rally the other day, and, after being plied with enough candy and cheese popcorn, he agreed to dredge up his memories of working on two of the most promising games LucasArts put on the docket in its post-2000 era. Both of which were of course killed, because, you know, LucasArts. Consequently, there’s a new inclusion in the Freelance Police interview compendium here, while the article itself has been quietly nourished with the designer’s insights.

Now then, who’s left?

Special thanks to retired Mojo staffer telarium for helping us get in touch with Chen. And of course, extra special thanks to Steven himself for taking time out for us.

History tells us that it’s always a mistake to expose staffers Benny and elTee to information of any kind. Naïve to their indefatigably compulsive ways, Dave Grossman had no idea what he was unleashing when he innocently mused in 2014 about an unlisted monochrome graphics mode for Monkey Island 2.

But those familiar with the personalities involved found it all too unsurprising when this ignited a near decade-long saga that even the most confirmed of basement-dwelling obsessives would go on to call, “rather sad.” Unmoved by pleas from concerned friends to walk back from the brink, the two defiantly embarked upon an unsolicited quest to resolve this most unremarkable footnote in SCUMM esoterica that guaranteed no wider interest and could only ever end in anticlimactic frustration – all the qualities that make for a classic article, in other words.

One of the bummers that goes along with most of the old hosted sites being lost to time is that a number of them were home to valuable interviews. Where possible, we like to try to import such orphaned archival content to that greatest of rescue shelters: Mixnmojo.

Today's rescues are interviews from the late, great iMuse Island. They were all conducted by the site’s able webmaster Luc Gilbertz and come from the period of 2000-2003. Improve your education and relive historical conversations with…

  • Clint Bajakian, fresh off his work on Escape from Monkey Island.
  • Peter McConnell, talking all the things that were relevant in 2003. Hey, remember that incident when he and Michael Land started a software company?
  • Jeff Kliment, the then-manager of the LucasArts Sound Department, with a few welcome intrusions by voice director Darragh O’Farrell.
  • Daniel “Wolk” Strandberg, composer of “Zak 2,” which, unique among Zak McKracken fan sequels, didn’t actually get finished. If that’s a subject that interests you, by the way, there’s no better resource than The Zak McKracken Archive.

This might be a good time to mention that such resurrections are not Easter exclusive, and that any retired webmasters who would like Mojo to keep their legacy content alive (or even to help you relaunch your site altogether) should pick up the phone and dial 1-800-ZAARIN, or for actual results reach out via webmonkey@mixnmojo.com or Twitter.

The hits keep on coming—though this one arrived a bit late at Mojo’s newsdesk: GamesBeat has published an interview with Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, one that has some meat on its bone. For example:

Mr. Grossman

The Monkey Wrench puzzle from LeChuck’s Revenge is notoriously unsolvable and was not a good design on several levels. Even if you are an English speaker from a location where the tool in question is commonly called a “monkey wrench,” and you realize that that’s what you need, you still have to make an astonishing predictive leap about how your actions will create that tool. Nothing in the game sets any of it up adequately. I use it to this day as my go-to example of what not to do with puzzle design, and it has influenced my thinking ever since. The player has to be able to somehow visualize what to do, and if they do give up and look at a hint, I want their response to be, “Oh, that makes sense, I should have thought of that!” rather than “How on earth was I ever supposed to think of that, you ridiculous, unfair clowns?!”

Conversely, The SCUMM Bar, everybody’s favorite website on the internet, is quasi-consistently being updated, landing-page style, with the latest ReMI factoids. Rumors (from me) suggest there might even be a few nuggets coming in later today.

Relatedly, our Adventurer newsletter already downright broke the GamesBeat news—we can’t be expected to update two sites at the same time after all. (Madness!)

Our most legendary April Fools prank, never to be topped, was the successful counterfeit of some “leaked audio” from a fabricated fifth Monkey Island game called Return to Monkey Island (ahem) back in 2002. This prank was carried out by a previous generation of the staff with exacting fastidiousness, employing the help of professional resources, toward the goal of abject cruelty.

Some of the fake dialog lines even wound up in Tales of Monkey Island, earning Mojo billions in royalties that it defiantly insisted be given to a worthy children’s hospital, after The SCUMM Bar achieves solvency.

But with the 20th anniversary of the web’s finest prank having passed, few are alive who remember it firsthand. The issue of preservation thus announces itself. Dom already did his part by filing the audio files safely away on Archive.org, ensuring its survival of extinction events. The problem is that these mp3s, impeccably produced though they are, remain estranged from their context. Sure, the old news posts they belong to technically still exist, but only as sad phantoms of brokens links and absence media.

”What is to be done about this?” is a question you shriek to the heavens with knowing urgency, given that an imposter Return to Monkey Island looms and threatens to permanently supplant the real McCoy in perpetuity’s memory.

Well, we just handle it, of course. Now settle down, and try to have more faith next time.

We don’t do much as far as editorials go here at Mojo, but once in a while, there are opinion pieces we can all get behind.

First, elTee, Mojo’s lead columnist, has written an op-ed called “Returning to Monkey Island (Again),” where he takes a look at the decades that brought us to a place few had expected us to be.

Want more? Our resident French philosopher Nicolas Deneschau asks, “Is Return to Monkey Island the first legacyquel in video games?” (Feel free to use it as citations for your college courses.)

Busy days here at the ol’ Mojo, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a load off and read “Return to Monkey Island, First Thoughts.”

The Nintendo version of Maniac Mansion is an odd duck in the best possible way, sporting loads of charm and a number of unique features. Part of its popularity is that it’s the version that many played first, but there’s more going on here, or SEGA CD The Secret of Monkey Island would be held up as some sacred cow (No offense, Dom).

A major distinction of the Nintendo version is its soundtrack. Typical of its time, the original PC version of Maniac Mansion was a relatively silent affair, with its audio consisting of little more than a title theme and the odd ambient sound effect. Wall-to-wall music wasn’t really a thing for the SCUMM games until Monkey Island 2, but it was very much the norm for Nintendo games.

So when the Maniac Mansion console port had just about wrapped up its development, the publisher, Jaleco, was wondering aloud where all the music was. Eleventh hour marching orders for a full-bodied soundtrack came down, and project lead David Warhol, something of a game composer himself, brought on three local musicians to split what ended up being a workload of twelve tracks.

To provide an in-game justification for all this music, the seven playable teenagers were given a CD player as a default inventory item, each loaded up with a genre pastiche representing his/her favorite fictional band. Serving not only the requirement for a fuller soundscape but also functioning as a kind of character-building conceit, the end result is surely one of the most varied of all 8-bit soundtracks, and who better to speak about it than the composers themselves? This is where I stop typing and link you to the article.

Remember the turn of the century, when getting the SCUMM games to run properly on Windows was a herculean task? The arrival of ScummVM delivered us to conditional salvation, but many reasonably pondered why LucasArts couldn’t provide an official solution by updating the native interpreters themselves.

Well, they did. Or at least, programmer Aaron Giles did, on the studio’s behalf. The problem is that among these sparkly, XP-compatible exe’s, only a few saw the light of day -- gradually, and without much fanfare.

After quietly throwing two of them onto a Europe-exclusive compilation pack in 2002, LucasArts presumably became too busy cancelling Sam & Max sequels to continue with such re-releases despite being armed with ready-to-go updates that had been handed to them on a silver platter. A few more of Aaron’s updated SCUMM launchers made their way to Steam in 2009, which came across as LucasArts burning off the remnants of a long since suspended initiative presumably codenamed What If We Didn’t Suck.

These days, the SCUMM games are sold on digital storefronts bundled with ScummVM, and the native interpreters, original or updated, don’t get reliably circulated with the data files, which puts a heckuva lot of pressure on your rotting floppies to preserve them. We decided to reach out to Aaron Giles to get his opinions on that dilemma and gain insight on what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the surrealistic insult that is updating a studio’s library only for said studio to indifferently put that work in a drawer.

And let’s be honest: it got the dignity of the drawer only because the dumpster was already filled with Ben Throttle standees.

Our thanks to Aaron Giles for his generosity with his time.

It is the year of the lord 2022, which means Mojo will turn 25 this summer. I mean, what the hell, right? And to kick off the celebration, Mojo is gifting you the grandest gift of all: a new game. We call it… Mojole.

This never-been-seen-before concept is simple: You get six tries to guess a five-letter word. That’s it. Each word is in one way or other related to the greater LucasArts universe or Mojo itself. Some of the solutions may be somewhat eclectic, but then, who are you to judge?

And you get to share your score! (Not on Mojo, mind you, as we don’t support highfalutin emojis. :~)

Join the game that’s sweeping the world: Play Mojole!

(Disclaimer: The game is in beta, and we’re aware of any and all issues you may find. So, don’t feel the need to report bugs. The game may not work properly on smaller phones like the iPhone SE because Huz never got around to doing a final test sweep. Mojole is not feature-complete.)

Sometime back in 2004, Mojo and The SCUMM Bar banded together to create an April Fool’s Day joke for the ages: a fake Monkey Island movie trailer. Yet, close as the prank came to fruition, the plans to execute it was aborted on March 3rd, 2004. Why? I take a quick look back at this footnote in Mojo’s history.

Bonus fact: this was the last time we attempted an actual April Fool’s joke, too. You’re welcome! (Update: OK, looking back through the archives it turns out that wasn’t entirely true, but any further attempts were pretty, pretty, pretty bad.)

I’m just guessing here, but if you’re someone who reads this site at all, you probably have a high opinion of your LucasArts knowledge. You know which versions of The Secret of Monkey Island are missing the Disk 22 gag; you’re capable of following a reference Remi might make to an Amiga-exclusive background prop in Woodtick; you compulsively offer to sell your first dates fine leather jackets as a secret handshake to weed out the rejects; you’d recognize a panel from the Defenders of Dynatron City comic; you could spot Jenny Sward dialog in Loom amidst Orson Scott Card’s lines at five hundred yards.

You’ve maintained the fan sites, solved the Three Paths, witnessed the death of Cobb, memorized the code wheel combos, chose DOSBox over ScummVM, made a fool of yourself in front of Dom on IRC in 1999…You know everything there is to know, dadgummit. So if there was something exceptionally outrageous to be exposed about 1990s LucasArts adventure artisans – like, for example, that they made an objectively insane, sketch-based local television show after hours – that would hardly be news to you, now would it?

To that, Mojo paternally brays the following rejoinder: “Hold my grog.”

Discover the tale of Fiction by Louie – five episodes worth of public access mayhem that Dave Grossman, Dan Connors, and other folks you would know slapped together, aired to the unsuspecting insomniacs of Marin County in 1996-2000, and then quietly moved on from, secure in the knowledge that no one would ever discover their dirty secret decades after the crime. But they didn’t count on our crack team of Ronan Farrow-esque journalists, and today the truth becomes the public’s business.

Our sincerest thanks to Jesse Clark, Dave Grossman, Dan Connors, Mark Cartwright and John Hannon for making this article possible with their generous donation of memories and artifacts.

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