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If you've been waiting for the Limited Run Monkey Island anthology, wait no more. Or rather, wait until October 30th. Point being, it has been fully announced:

It might run you a cool $160, but you do get a lot for your money, provided you actually want what's bundled. The E-Ticket? Awesome! Ultimate Insult illustration? Amusingly random. Books? Fo' sho'. The rest... well, it might be for some of you, for others, not so much.

Like it? Love it? Disappointed? Let us know in the comment, and let us know if you have any questions for Limited Run -- Mojo Interview(TM) is forthcoming.

As something of a supplement to the upcoming livestream which will delve into some unreleased content from the first two Monkey Island games, Verge has published an interview with Frank Cifaldi and Kelsey Lewin of the Video Game History Foundation to discuss their motives behind preserving vintage source code and the reception they got from Lucasfilm when they approached the company about making Monkey Island the vanguard of their efforts. There's also some good stuff about omitted content that underlines the improvisational nature of the early SCUMM games' development:

They also had access to Gilbert’s sketchbook from when he was making the game, which contained the raw ideas that eventually made it into the finished product. “There is a page that just says, ‘booby trap on bridge?’. And I think that’s like, all it ever was,” Cifaldi continues. “Like, the game wasn’t designed enough, but artists need to be working on something. So it’s like, I don’t know, ‘work on a booby-trapped bridge, and maybe we’ll revisit it,’ and they never did.” It’s not a cut puzzle; it doesn’t mean anything other than it was an idea that didn’t quite make it.

The full article is quite good, so do read it.

Sure, we're all perfectly excited about that fireside chat at the end of the month. But what does Ron know about Monkey Island, really? Was he there or something?

The fact is, if you want the real scoop, you go to the experts. And that would be Youtuber "onaretrotip", who's put together an 80-minute documentary about the making of The Secret of Monkey Island as part of the 30th anniversary internet love bomb we're in the midst of. Included throughout are quotes from the core team, and I think some of these recorded reflections are new. Let me know if I'm wrong, and I'll see to it that the correct people are fired.

Comments: 2 / Source: Youtube

With which I mean the crazy, fun stuff hidden in Monkey Island's SCUMM code. To quote the press release:

The Video Game History Foundation (VGHF), a nonprofit that brings old video games back to life by preserving, celebrating, and teaching their history, is today unveiling the Video Game Source Project, an effort to save and study source code and related development materials before the stories around these games' creation are lost forever.

(some more stuff, then the interesting part)

The first games to benefit from the Video Game Source Project will be Lucasfilm Games' legendary point-and-click adventure The Secret of Monkey Island, which celebrates its 30 year anniversary this month, and its sequel Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge.

So, what will we see? Reconstructed scenes, for one thing. (Presumably the cannibal village scene will be one of them.) And a fireside chat with Ronzo himself. An audience Q&A. You know, the normal stuff.

The event will take place Friday, October 30th, 1pm PDT. Tickets are $10. Run and get them right now!

Another 30th anniversary article for the venerated series comes by way of LADbible. An excerpt:

Which is to say: this game is in my blood, a part of what makes me, me. Not just a favourite game, but an experience of my childhood - like a favourite movie, or book, from a lifetime ago - that always, without fail, puts a smile on my face. It still makes me laugh aloud, even when I can see the jokes coming - which the best TV and film can do, too. Not fall-around-the-place hysterics, as I grew out of that. But a chuckle, a titter, just the gentlest guffaw. It's enough to make me not feel my age, for a moment at least - and The Secret of Monkey Island is an experience that'll forever remind me why I love video games so much.

Who among us cannot relate? Click here for the whole piece.

And while I've got you here, let me sneak in this recent blog post by Chuck Jordan reflecting on Habitat. You didn't even see that coming, did ya.

Say what you want about Escape from Monkey Island -- it enjoyed an interesting spate of promotional memorabilia. Coasters, bottles off grog...and perhaps most memorably an inflatable monkey doll that was presumably meant to be in the divine image of Timmy the Monkey, a character introduced in EMI as a pet of the Threepwoods. Despite being an instant hit with the fan base, Timmy was somehow excluded from Tales of Monkey Island, which is a bit like writing Tom Hagen out of The Godfather Part III. (Jake was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing.)

The doll’s first appearance, we believe, was at the Escape from Monkey Island Playstation 2 release party, which Mojo attended, taking home plenty of photographic proof. The doll had a tendency to pop up on a few occasions in subsequent years, like in the earliest photographs of the Telltale Games office space, way back in 2004, which kicked up a lot of runaway speculation.

Well, his latest cameo is on eBay, where he can be had right now for $275.00. Not sure what LucasArts vet, or what fan that might have mugged a LucasArts vet, needs the money so badly for, but why not help them out and give Timmy a new home?

In the aforementioned Wireframe Magazine spread on Monkey Island for the series’ 30th anniversary (buy it here, or click here for a preview), a fairly remarkable tidbit is casually mentioned. In a section on CMI, a screenshot of The Barbery Coast is featured alongside a revamped, HD version of the location with the following text:

Bill Tiller has recently been repainting some of the game's backgrounds in the hope of convincing Disney to release a new HD version of The Curse of Monkey Island for fans to explore.

This glimpse of the hi-def version is definitely appealing and unsurprisingly reminiscent of Tiller’s more recent adventure game work, although I question whether the spirit of Larry Ahern’s art direction really survives the choice to lose those pencil outlines. Like them or not, they are an elemental component of CMI’s look.

But whatever! The point here is that Bill Tiller has been redoing CMI backgrounds, and that’s headline news. I don’t know how successful he will be at getting Disney’s attention, but maybe the fans can help see this project through somehow. Godspeed, in any case.

I should also mention that there is another magazine spread on Monkey Island this month, published by Retro Gamer in their October issue. You’ll want to buy that too, surely.

It’s looking to be a big month for Monkey Island, which is marking its 30th anniversary. Whatever Limited Run Games has in store with their box set should be unveiled imminently, and a faucet of retrospectives is evidently opening for the occasion as well -- The Guardian published a courtly little piece in celebration, and Wireframe Magazine has a feature devoted to the series in its latest issue.

I would also encourage everyone to keep their eye on Craig Derrick’s Twitter feed. Just today he posted a photo of what looks to be the original acetate layers for the Secret of Monkey Island box:

More is no doubt to come, and if this was 2003 we’d probably be the best place to keep up with it all.

Now that the forums are back up, it’s time to loot them for news items. What did you guys think we restored that junkyard for? Thanks to Nacho for falling for the scheme and doing the legwork for us.

The first item comes from Noah Falstein’s Facebook, where he posted some Terryl Whitlatch concept art from his version of The Dig. Artwork from that version of the game remains relatively rare, so it’s always an event when a new piece turns up:

Falstein also came across an old design document for a never-made Ron game called The TimeFly. A photograph of the game proposal has been posted to Grumpy Gamer, and you can check it out below. Ron estimates it falls somewhere between Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island in the timeline:

David Fox has shared more information on the development of the original Rescue on Fractalus and its aborted sequel on his Twitter account.

Here's some fo what he had to say:

When #RescueOnFractalus launched in 1984, we held a big press conference at the Lucasfilm Ltd C Building Screening Room. We wanted to present only direct footage from the games, so produced this video which starts with 1:20 of VO and SFX only.

We did the same for Ballblazer, with 1:40 of VO/SFX.

Some reporters didn't believe this was actually playing on an Atari 800 at 60fps and peeked under the table, expecting to find a laserdisc player (there wasn't one). David Levine had it screaming fast.

The production didn't always go smoothly, but that made for a slicker final product:

So many delays meant more time to polish. We were ready to release our first games at January 1984 CES. Atari wanted to wait until June. Then in July Atari was sold to Tramiel. Deals changed, found new publisher, had to create disk versions.

Fox then goes into details on the sequel, sharing mock-up videos used to give an idea of how the final experience would have looked, as well as images from presentation and concept artwork. (All of which can't be easily linked to.).

Unfortunately, in the end it was the familiar story...

So, what happened to the game? Our team had multiple meetings at LucasArts with their president Darrell Rodriguez (@drod1000) (who was a huge fan of our old games), Craig Derrick (@craigderrick) (who produced Tales of Monkey Island series and MI special editions), and several other people... And then, as had happened many times before, there was a change of direction/focus dictated from the top. No more reboots of the old games. Focus on Star Wars. Darrell left, and the project died. We were all pretty devastated.

For the full story, read Fox's full Twitter thread. Thanks for sharing, David!

After I posted about the Craig Derrick tweet earlier, it was brought to my attention that he's also commented on the often-scuttled efforts of the LucasArts Heritage team. Since those efforts remain largely mysterious to us - all I'm aware of is that Handsome Halibut title that never got announced and an internal Day of the Tentacle special edition - it merits the notice of the front page when new tidbits emerge.

Which brings me to this Twitter thread in which David Fox mentions this:

We were deep in talks with Darrell Rodriguez to create an iPhone version of Rescue on Fractalus with the original team. And then LucasArts was ordered to change direction and focus on Star Wars and he was replaced. Sad.

It brings a warm feeling to know that there were folks at LEC at the time who even considered such a tribute to the studio's very first game. And based on Craig Derrick's reply, it wasn't the only cool project to get the axe when Darrell Rodriguez stepped down:

Many amazing projects, partnerships, and plans left when he did. I’m glad the remasters found a home after 2013, but there was some cool stuff coming — including the original 1313.

This is intriguing stuff. Not intriguing enough for me to actually start reading Twitter (so do keep referring such findings to us as you spot them) but it certainly sheds some light on what a lot of us assumed about the Rodriguez years: that a slate of projects acknowledging the studio's legacy was attempted, before the powers that be did what they do best. Sort of the Simon Jeffery era in turbo? Maybe what Derrick is up to these days represents an attempt to get this type of agenda cooking again. We send only the best voodoo his way if so.

Comments: 10 / Source: Twitter

Craig Derrick is undoubtedly the most vocal - if not the only - Monkey Island enthusiast still on Lucasfilm payroll. Around 2008-2011, he was part of a small group at LucasArts (the-so-called "Heritage" team) who were pushing to get legacy revivals and small, original games off the ground. All they managed to convince Scrooge to greenlight in the end were the (highly outsourced) Monkey Island special editions and Lucidity.

This team no doubt intended to keep going, but inevitably the higher-ups got wind that somebody was being paid to think about something other than Star Wars and consequently ordered all of these developers shot [citation needed]. A bullet-ridden Craig managed to crawl out of the mass grave and even more impressively survive the shuttering of LucasArts by the Disney acquisition; today he serves some nebulous executive role at Lucasfilm.

What Craig does over there is anybody's guess, but every now and then he'll say something on Twitter that seems designed to titillate fans of the company's adventure game properties, which he is clearly a champion of. We're grateful he exists, and hopefully our sometimes moody expression of that gratitude can be forgiven when LucasArts' history with this sort of thing is accounted for. The latest:

Considering that Limited Run Games plans to release their Monkey Island boxed set in October, I have a hard time believing this doesn't relate to that. Perhaps Craig is one of the main Lucasfilm folks interfacing with Limited Run Games on this effort, and there are some exciting details (like extras?) forthcoming. We'll just have to wait and see. Might I respectfully suggest the authentic inclusion of the original versions of the first two games, which the special editions nobly fell short of?

Comments: 5 / Source: Twitter

As someone whose experience playing Maniac Mansion on the NES (30th anniversary, incidentally!) was a formative one, that game means a lot to me. Consequently I’ve had a lot of inchoate and way-too-personal thoughts over the years about the game’s atmosphere, how promotional imagery managed to capture it, and how Day of the Tentacle opted to recast it. I also find myself struck by the attractively open-ended future this fairly unexamined series has, should anyone care to give it one.

Regrettably, I didn’t bother to actually pull those thoughts together before publishing them in an article, but hopefully the pretty pictures will distract from that. Don’t be a tuna-head; read it, and preferably not on a phone! MojoEx isn't up to it.

Over on their Youtube channel, PC Gamer is running a video series called “Reinstall”, which seems to consist of capsule retrospectives for selected games. LucasArts’ two 1995 graphic adventure releases, Full Throttle and The Dig, made the cut; enjoy their episodes below.

We’re really bringing out the big guns today!

Twelve years ago, Jason bought a poster -- a Maniac Mansion one specifically. Fast-forward to 2020, and he finally got it framed, a momentous occasion. And who are we to deny you from reading such a tale of excitement and intrigue? We give to you: Jason Frames His Maniac Mansion Poster: A Gripping Account .

Conversely, taking twelve years to frame a poster seems indicative of how we procrastinate about anything and everything around here, but either way... Read!

Oh, and want to show off your framed LEC posters to the world? There's a forum thread for that.

This one was irresistible. It turns out that The Orlando Sentinel does a pretty admirable job of digitizing its archives, as this online version of an editorial from August 16th, 1991 proves.

Here's how it opens:

We're getting letter after letter from readers wanting to know more about the Nintendo Entertainment System's Maniac Mansion ($54.95). To answer everybody's questions about this great (not to mention funny) strategy game, we'll take you on a run-through from the beginning. Remember, this is just one of dozens of possible scenarios. Try it out and use the same kind of strategy to solve the game with other characters.

You'll have to read the article if you want to see their useful hints for yourself. Tough break for the LucasFilm Games hint line.

Anyway, this is awesome. And a reminder that video games were always appallingly expensive. I would point out that the Nintendo version of Maniac Mansion was released in September 1990, so if they were getting "letter after letter" eleven months later, the game must have been big in central Florida -- and particularly so relative to the rest of the country, as the cartridge did not sell well enough to earn a second North American printing.

Because it is apparently compulsive for LucasArts legends to subject themselves to 90-minute interviews over Zoom, David Fox strapped himself into a headset and took his turn for a grilling over broadband. He and the interviewer cover a lot of ground about halcyon LEC, so do check it out when you're done with the Tim one, and just hope that someone will give enough of a damn about you when you are David Fox's age to put you through this:

Fox is apparently the darling of YouTube, as he's sat for quite a number of these over the years, and I doubt we've caught them all. If you find yourself craving more, Youtube is your friend.

First, so we don’t bury the lede: If you want to play the talkie-edition prototype of Monkey Island 2, we are here to provide: Download it right here.

Of course, when I say “we”, the credit belongs to Nicolas Deneschau, the gentleman author of the French Monkey Island tome, "Les mysteres de Monkey Island: à l'abordage des pirates!" Not only did he provide the file, he also conducted interviews with Aric Wilmunder (the man behind the voiced prototype, and also the voice of Rapp Scallion) and Khris Brown (LEC’s famed casting director). Make sure to read all the way to the bottom for instruction on how to get the prototype to run under DOSBox. Check it out now.

And Mojo wouldn’t be Mojo without without Benzo hacking his way into the prototype. If you’re the type of person who find deepdives into resource files interesting — and seeing you are reading this, you probably do — go read it, too.

In summation: A playable prototype; interviews; hacking tutorials. Mojo has it all for you. Go read, and expect more from this, because we’re going to milk this for what it’s worth.

And if you enjoy this kind of fine, quality content, why not contribute a donation to our Patreon campaign? Only you can ensure the continued excellence of Mojo and its vast ocean of exclusive features!

Way back in 2002, LucasArts.com, which was a site that once existed (ask your grandparents), underwent a revamp as the studio was celebrating its then 20th anniversary. In an effort that arguably represented the only substantial content the official site ever laid claim to, a 20th anniversary section was launched with all sorts of multimedia goodies. Aside from the immediately looted concept art gallery, most of that stuff has been lost to time, presuming you can't be motivated to board The Wayback Machine.

Among the offerings were three nice features -- one a four-part history of the studio, one a collection of employee memories, and one a series of profiles of five veteran developers: Jon Knoles, Sean Clark, Eric Johnston, Mike Stemmle, and Larry Holland. Thinking that these pieces deserved better than being lost to the ages, we went ahead and ported them to Mojo for posterity:

As you might expect, not all media survived the Wayback Machine crawls, and LOL on trying to match the LucasArts.com layouts in MojoEx to any pleasant effect. But whatever, at least they're essentially intact, and can now be enjoyed for centuries to come. Or until Zaarin misses a payment next Tuesday.

It's a listicle ranking. It's someones opinion. Have at it, or just live and let live...

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