Why does nobody like(d) MI4?

After reading several other topics about Monkey Island 4 nobody seems to like that game. I would like to know: why?

The graphics and the interface are similar to Grim Fandango. Why they are don’t liked in Monkey Island 4? Are why are the puzzles and/or is the story weak?

I haven’t played it since '02ish and I borrowed it from a friend so I don’t have the CDs, nor is it on GOG, but I don’t recall not liking it. Quite the opposite because I finished it whole. But other than that Murray had moved on to guard a casino or something like that, I don’t recall much about it, while DoTT (which I played around the same time) still stands out pretty fresh in my mind as one of the finest games I’ve ever played. (Syberia perhaps being the prettiest but not the finest.)

Grim Fandango I couldn’t get into at the time. From my opinion as a ~12-14 year old MI4 was therefore the better game. Besides which, the backstory they gave to the giant monkey head was something I’d had in mind as a cool “what if” ever since I played MI1.

I played the games as more or less independent episodes in the order in which they came to me.

  1. MI3 (my first of the genre, late '90s).
  2. MI2 (~2000). Incidentally, the apparently infamous monkey wrench puzzle was simple. It was a monkey that looked like a wrench. Didn’t mean I’d ever heard of that expression… but when I replayed it with my American wife half a decade ago she immediately understood the “monkey wrench” wordplay. So it works for non-native and it works for native. Not the terrible puzzle it’s made out to be. :wink:
  3. MI1 (~2001).
  4. MI4 (~2002).

I’ve since replayed 1, 2 and 3. The main distinction is that by the time I played MI4 my English was already pretty good, so there wasn’t really any need to replay it to understand those things I missed a few years earlier. My problem with Grim Fandango was probably mainly that back in the late '90s my knowledge of English language & culture wasn’t up to the task.

tl;dr I like it.

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MI4 had a terrible interface, same of Grim Fandango. I never completed the second one, while I have played MI4 until the end.

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Perhaps I didn’t find them as bad as I might’ve if it had been my first tank control game. The controls weren’t as awkward as Tomb Raider, where you had to fiddle around with jump positioning and such (try it here), never mind the practically impossible Alone in the Dark/Resident Evil with their abundant camera screw.

I suppose Grim Fandango also has plenty of camera screw. The camera-relative movement in Grim Fandango Remastered is a great improvement over the tank controls, not to mention the option to point & click. Since there aren’t any zombies lurking about, the camera screw is a comparatively mild annoyance rather than a game breaker. Also iirc it was better in MI4.

In Grim Fandango Remastered I’m annoyed by the tank controls today if I optionally turn them on, just as I find TR 1-3 borderline unplayable these days, but I wasn’t particularly annoyed by it in the '90s and early 2000s, whereas I found them unbearable in Alone in the Dark/Resident Evil/Silent Hill.

Try Gabriel Knight 3 for a game where I can barely wrap my head around the controls. :stuck_out_tongue:

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The interface really botherd me a lot. The story, the characters and the dialogues were much more silly… still humorous, but definitely less intelligent and with a complete different feeling. After playing one quarter of the game (and didn’t enjoying it) I gave up.


I would like to find those topics, and I actually tried to, but I failed. Not much to find my own answers to your question, but because there were other interesting interventions.

Anyway, I think in all the human productions, there’s also a value for “tradition”. Monkey Island comes from the tradition of the point and click games, it has been one of the most important games that opened the '90 decade, so that great change in controls, views and graphics has not been loved by fans. I said in one of the topics you mentioned before (which I can’t find) that if EMI had a completely different theme, different from Monkey Island, probably I would have given it a better chance to interest me (as I did with Grim Fandango). I played only a quarter of the whole game, and the story seems not bad after all, if you don’t consider that it is a new chapter of the Monkey Island saga.

On the opposite side, and as a confirmation of what I’ve said, the younger brother of a friend of mine with which I used to play Monkey Island 2 (he is ten years younger than us, and he didn’t experience the season of the first two games) he played Escape from MI and he liked it a lot.

I liked it to a point. I thought the story was decent fan fiction. Murray was a blast (what an amazing character he is), the take on corporations was funny and the music was good. I hated the graphics. Not only it’s ugly early 3D but it has that bright, candy land look that belongs in a Mario game. And controls… Oh my. Grim Fandango controls were garbage (even the remastered point and click version is hard to control sometimes) and this one wasn’t any better. It’s blows my mind they shipped two games with controls like that. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??? Did testers really played this and said - yes, that’s fun?

If I’ll forget about controls - it wasn’t really much worse than Tales. Not something I would revisit but decent enough.


Here are some points why I, and many other people, do not like Monkey Island 4:

  1. In MI4 the game control is not point & click, it is not possible to play it with a mouse. I had to play it with the keyboard because I had no game controller. In the beginning I thought that I can get used to it but I found it uncomfortable and annoying.

  2. All human characters where made in real 3D. Compared to the 2D graphics in MI1, MI2 and MI3, the 3D characters looks impersonal and dead. Interestingly the 3D concept works very good in Grim Fandango probably because all characters where dead :wink:
    The issue with the 3D look and feel is a general problem in games and I think it is really hard (or nearly impossible) to design a nice looking 3D character, even today.

Personally I found that the story in MI4 is good but not very good.

@RonGilbert If you have the chance to design/develop a MI3a please do not create 3D character models except they are created very carefully and with a lot of effort.

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“Posts” would be more correct. For example some critics were mentioned here.

To sum up all posts I’ve read about MI4, there seems to be the following negative arguments (in this order):

  1. The controls are horrible.
  2. The graphics are ugly.
  3. The puzzles were bad.
  4. The story is weak.

Same here. I remember more parts in MI3 than things from MI4 - and I played all MI games in chronological order. I don’t remember anything from the story and only very few puzzles. So they can’t be that “impressive”.

In MI4 I don’t like the controls and the graphics. But this is maybe due to the fact, that I’ve played MI1, MI2 and MI3 first. So Monkey Island is connected in my brain with hand-drawn comic graphics. :slight_smile:

I would guess that they had the publishing on consoles in mind.

He won’t do something in 3D, as he explained it here in his blog.

Is it really that much better with a controller though? I never tried it.

Grim Fandango plays much better on the console, it´s like it had been designed for it back in the day.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I love MI4!


They’re different. Only sometimes “horrible.” Occasionally you could have difficulty interacting with the right object, which is basically the same problem as pixel hunting or word hunting but with little steps and turns. Which is not so much a problem with the control scheme as with the design of the particular room.

I thought it looked perfectly charming. :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t recall.

No weaker than 3.

Did original Grim Fandango still require the mouse for some interactions or something? I don’t really see how it’d be any better or worse. You have the arrows, shift for running, i for inventory… all your standard fare.


Try to hold the whole PC keyboard in your hands. :wink: Seriously: You hold the (small) controller in your hands while the keyboard lies in front of you on the table. So the usage/handling is completely different, even if you have keys on both of them.

That´s exactly why I will always advocate for the controller. You have everything you need at your fingertips you don´t need to move them at all you just need to press the buttons. Very intuitive.

Yes, I generally prefer controllers because I can stand around and whatnot. (Yes, I like to stand.) With a program like antimicro you can play many games fairly well with a controller if they don’t support it out of the box. For all I know when I tried the original Grim Fandango I used my Gravis GamePad on it. But in this sense Grim Fandango is even better on a controller, which is different from making a game that doesn’t play well on a regular keyboard because, for example, it’s better with analog sticks. Tomb Raider is a good example of a game that’s better with analog sticks, but the Playstation didn’t have any either. And even when the Playstation did Tomb Raider didn’t support it. But anyway, that’s just because maneuvering with precision for difficult jumps is easier with the analog stick. Not an issue in Grim/MI4.

TBH, I only have vague memories of MI4. The on bit that sticks out, and I thought it was one of the best parts of the game is the time loop and meeting first your future self and then your past self in the swamp. I don’t think I found the graphics bad at the time it was released, but they certainly haven’t aged well.

As for what to dislike? I thought it tried a bit too hard to replicate the spirit of the first part(s) and feels more like a rehash than something that can reasonably stand on its own. In addition, I do not remember anything specific about the story, so it must have been quite unremarkable. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad game per se, just one I feel no urge revisiting any time soon. Unremarkable in almost every aspect, I guess.


I generally agree with some other authors here, who wrote that the interface/controls and the 3D graphics were the biggest issues.

It has been a while since I played Escape from MI, but I think it has not been on a par with its predecessors at all. Everyone who knew the predecessors might have been inevitably disappointed. Well, it is difficult to judge the story and the puzzles after all these years, but I’m convinced that most players would have enjoyed the game much more, if it had been a SCUMM-based 2D point-and-click game with more stylistic similarities to one of the predecessors. Moreover, the look of Mêlée Island was almost an insult to the fans of MI 1, I think.

By the way, I have played Tales of MI recently and I don’t think that it was any better than Escape from MI. Well, the faces look more detailed and a bit more realistic, the screen resolution is higher, there are some funny jokes, the controls are slightly better and I admit that Episode 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood has quite a good story (much in contrast to Episode 3), but that’s all. The five episodes still have so many weaknesses in terms of the puzzles, the controls, the graphics and the story. Just like Escape from MI, it did not even feel like an actual Monkey Island game to me.


I liked it.
I never had problems with controls in Grim Fandango and EMI worked the same.
Puzzles were also fine.

Tank controls FTW!
(The only thing I don’t like about this particular implementation is the auto-turning feature making you run alongside walls when you miss some narrow exit. When I replayed the game some time ago I played with my brother. He preferred camera-relative controls. Freak.)

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