Short version of this post: “I don’t want a MI3a game by Ron anymore, because I’m afraid that it could ruin the idea that the younger me had of those games.”
Long version follows…
I have always considered “The Secret of Monkey Island” and “Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge” the only two “canon” games of the Monkey Island series. All the following games might be good but they have nothing to do with the original story that Ron Gilbert had in mind when he designed the first games.
To me, it’s if George Lucas had written the story of episode IV and V of Star Wars but then left the franchise, motivating the producers to ask Michael Bay to write and direct episode VI. I have no doubt that the movie would have been a commercial success, but it wouldn’t never be the same thing (even if watching the Death Star catastrophically exploding to the point of ripping space apart and forming a huge black hole that would have sucked hundreds of solar systems is something that I might have enjoyed).
So, when a few years ago Ron Gilbert fantasized about a sequel to MI2, calling it “MI3a”, the mind of the juvenile adventurer who still lives in my head got excited to the idea, even if I was aware of the fact that the chance to make MI3a a reality was extremely thin.
To some extent, a part of me still would like to know what the freakin’ secret is, but then “Thimbleweed Park” happened and that started a chain of events that motivated me to document myself more about Ron’s original idea, about his artistic preferences and about how that idea could have evolved in the hypothetical sequel of the series.
The first clue about the evolution of the first game can be found in an 1990 interview in which Ron, talking about the recently released first game of the franchise, said:
This isn’t a historically accurate game. In fact, you’ll see when you play that there are a lot of anachronisms, like the vending machine at Stan’s used ship yard. They’re there to add humor to the game of course, but they also have a secret, deeper relevance to the story – but I’m keeping that secret for the sequel.
It’s clear that those anachronisms were a hint to some serious twist of the story and we already saw part of that twist in MI2, where the quantity of anachronisms is even higher and the ending is clearly set in a modern age.
A second important statement by Ron was made in 2003 in a chat on the “#monkey-island” IRC channel
The problem with the Secret of Monkey Island is that it’s built up sich a mystic, that when I finally do reviel it, you’re all going to go “That was dumb”.
And, yes, I will learn to type one day…
I think that Ron made a good point there, because my hope of discovering one day how the story would have ended wasn’t taking under consideration my expectations and personal preferences.
This was the moment in which I started wondering how the continuation of the Monkey Island story would have influenced my personal image of the first two games. What if MI3a would move the story towards a direction that I wouldn’t have liked?
I’m especially thinking of Ron’s love for metaphorical interpretations and endings that leave a lot of open questions. In his keynote at PAX Australia 2013, which I have partially quoted in this thread, Ron said the following thing about the controversial MI2 ending:
So then one morning I was laying in bed and I was just staring at the ceiling and the ending to Monkey Island 2 to just hit me. Not with all the details like the Star Wars parody but the basic gist of it and it just felt absolutely perfect; it was odd and it was strange and I knew a lot of people would have just hated it.
The adult me would probably find acceptable any ending for MI3a, but I’m not sure that the younger me would have appreciated some kind of meta/odd/puzzling/metaphorical turn for a game that I perceived as just a story about pirates and a young inexperienced lad trying to become one of them.
I mean, it’s highly likely that the younger me would have preferred a linear, banal Guybrush-beats-LeChuck-and-marries-Elaine kind of story.
The more I thought about it, the more the chance of getting a MI3a that could kill my suspension of disbelief and detach myself from that pirate role that I loved to play became a concern…
…Ron could really ruin that memory for me…
…to the point that I have changed my mind and now I don’t want to know at all how the original story ends nor I want to know more about the secret of Monkey Island nor about those suspicious anachronisms that suggest to me a possible unpleasant twist.
And that’s it, I just wanted to share with you my thoughts.
I know that there are other Monkey Island fans here who have shared their opinion about a hypothetical MI3a game and I would be curious to know what they think about the idea of intentionally keeping the secret inside its unbreakable safe forever and just be thankful for the wonderful time that we spent playing the first games.