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Old 09-21-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
Snugglecakes
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When did Monkey Island become a cartoon?

Something has been bothering me for a few years and Guy.brush's amazing 3D work on MI2 has really nailed the point home.

Who was it that decided that Monkey Island should be a cartoon? I only ask because I'd like to shoot him in the knee.

Monkey 1 and 2 (and to a very large degree CMI too) have this magic atmosphere. Monkey Island was always funny, but these first games were ever so slightly scary in places too. It was beautiful but sort of a bit dark at the same time.

Look at EMI though. It's pure cartoon. TMI has gone along the same route, not that they had very much choice after EMI but still. And I want to know why. This is my main gripe with modern Monkey Island.

The screenshots from Bill Tiller's Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island are a much more natural continuation from the first Monkey Island games. Guy.brush's amazing 3D work on MI2 is absolutely brilliant, but what I love about it most of all is that THIS IS MONKEY ISLAND.

Even the people working on SMI:SE with it's ridiculous Guybrush character seem to have lost the plot. I said in a post a few months ago that to me, Monkey Island has always been magical, a fantasy world, with a deliciously dark atmosphere punctuated by superb humour. It is not, and never has been a cartoon. So who was the moron at LEC who decided that EMI should look like something your 3 year old watches on a Saturday morning?

I'll never forgive them for it, but at least there is hope... Guy.brush has now proven that you can have a 3D environment that stays true to Monkey Island. Don't get me wrong, TMI is a brilliant game (unlike EMI) and I've thoroughly enjoyed it so far. But is it Monkey Island? As far as puzzles, characters, music etc go, I'm inclined to say yes, it is. But the world you move around in? No. Not quite. Refer to Guy.brush's 3D for that.

This is the first thing I've seen since (most of) CMI that truly, properly shouts Monkey Island to me. It makes the baffling design decisions (by LucasArts more than Telltale) stand out like a sore thumb.

I don't trust LucasArts at all. Certainly not enough to even let them make an MI2:SE. Not anymore. Yes, doing it like the amazing 3D examples we've seen now will be expensive, but show me someone who wouldn't buy it. And besides, do it properly or don't do it at all.

Monkey Island as a series ended with CMI for me, and this is still the case. TMI is great but it's too light hearted and cheerful and cartoony to give me the warm fuzzy feeling I get from playing the first 3 games. I just didn't realise it as clearly as I do now because now we've seen what is possible.
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Old 09-21-2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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I personally think that overall ToMI looks great and fits well in the MI universe. Didn't Ron Gilbert regret doing the "realistic" close-up shots that were present in Secret of MI?


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Old 09-21-2009, 04:24 PM   #3
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I personally think that overall ToMI looks great and fits well in the MI universe. Didn't Ron Gilbert regret doing the "realistic" close-up shots that were present in Secret of MI?
Yeah he did... but I still don't think it needs to look "cartoony". The whole world around you in the first 3 games has a very different feel to the last 2. I miss it, the atmosphere is the most important part of Monkey Island for me. ToMI is fantastic yeah, but I still prefer taking a stroll down the Woodtick dock for pure Monkey Island atmosphere.
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Old 09-21-2009, 04:52 PM   #4
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Well the first one wasn't totally set in stone when it came to style. Some of the screens looked more "realistic" than others. The second one had slightly more exaggerated architecture and environments but my guess is that this was more due to the artists freedom of finally being able to actually draw free lines and brushstrokes on paper and then scan the artwork.
The 3rd one had an even more exaggerated tone but still had lots of detail and light in most of the screens. The slightly more cartoony nature of the 3rd one was partly due to production limitations and workload considerations. Bill Tiller said this himself once. It's just way easier to animate simpler characters with clean shapes and outlines than let's say a Guybrush with a cloak like the one in MI2.
Then came the 4th one, with 3d tech being very limited in terms of lighting, shadows, polygon count and animation tools. So they followed the path towards a more cartoony and less detailed graphical style.

You could say that my silly little experiment is a window into an alternate timeline (or obsessive fan brain.
One in which Monkey4 would've looked more like LeChuck's Revenge, cause 3d technology was already mature enough and ready to enhance the moody undertones in Monkey2.

It's basically my try at a "Batman Begins" after "Batman & Robin" , though that might sound a tad arrogant hehe. Hmm...actually I still like the 89 Keaton Batman best..hmm...well flawed analogy.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:14 PM   #5
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Yeah, I understand that they had to do it to fit in with the 3D they had to work with but I wish they would've left it 2D until 3D was ready for it

Maybe the world would've been a better place if you'd never shown us this delicious new 3D!
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:18 PM   #6
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I 100% agree..I was thinking the same thing myself after seeing the video by guy.brush..
TellTale seem to have gotten everything right apart from one thing.. Atmosphere. where the hell is it.
Monkey Island is about 3 things for me.. Story, Humor and Atmosphere.
without the dark undertones spot on artwork it's just not the same.
and this is what guy.brush has nailed.. it's totally awesome.

I was just playing the second ep of Tomi.. and it's severely lacking in polish and atmosphere.. and why the hell is everything so bright.
The graphical glitches really drag you out of the experience and remind you that you are playing a game.. the line which constantly pans across the sky and the fact that there are only 2 models which a re-used for every pirate, it just makes it look amateur.

I only hope that developers take note of what guy.brush has made here and bring back the atmosphere to MI.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:15 PM   #7
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Monkey Island was always cartoony.

MI2 ex:
Guybrush losing his hair, puting an entire dog in his coat, eyes popping out, giving LeChuck a wedgie, stretching all over the place after drinking.

It's the art style you don't like, not the cartooniness.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:40 PM   #8
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well I think you have to separate the character stuff from the environments. Just like you can have Monkey 2 backgrounds bundled together with Crysis trees and water without being too much of a stylistic mess, you could have less detailed/cartoony behaving characters in more detailed environments. Pretty much every cartoon has the backgrounds drawn with more detail cause it's easy to beautify one screen as opposed to whole animation cycles.
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Old 09-22-2009, 04:08 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Monkey Mania View Post
Monkey Island was always cartoony.

MI2 ex:
Guybrush losing his hair, puting an entire dog in his coat, eyes popping out, giving LeChuck a wedgie, stretching all over the place after drinking.

It's the art style you don't like, not the cartooniness.
It is though... because the art style is... cartoony! I know the characters have always gotten up to outrageous things, that's fine. It's the environment that doesn't work as well as it used to.

I do realise that maybe they had every intention of making the whole thing look cartoony back then and couldn't, but then that's what inadvertently became the magic recipe for Monkey Island and it shouldn't be ignored. They now have superior ingredients to work with, yes, but you can't beat the original taste.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:04 AM   #10
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I agree with you 100% Snugglecakes (besides, how can you disagree with someone named Snugglecakes?), and for me as well, Monkey Island ended with CMI.

I've been playing TMI and while it's nice, it's not Monkey Island at all, it's something similar and fun, but not it.

What was special about Secret and Revenge was the presentation. When you picked up a box, you'd think this is a goodly pirate adventure where there'll be guvnur's daughters and Mayan treasures and whatnot, and the art matches, and slowly the humour seeps in until you're left in a clearly hilarious world. But below that shell of humour, they still had a solid, serious story underneath:

A damsel is in distress from an undead pirate, and a newbie pirate must save her by assembling a ragtag crew and exploring the jungles of Monkey Island.

Contrast with:

After messing up a ritual ceremony, an undead pirate is turned human and his evilness causes an airborne pox that can only be cleaned with a sea sponge protected by an ancient race of merfolk.

The point is, that by diving into forced cartoon territory, they killed what was so funny about Monkey Island: that the humour came up randomly in an otherwise believable world. In the later installments, the cartoon aesthetic made the humour too obvious, too forced. It isn't as funny when you already see a joke coming.


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Old 09-22-2009, 08:34 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Sabretooth View Post
The point is, that by diving into forced cartoon territory, they killed what was so funny about Monkey Island: that the humour came up randomly in an otherwise believable world. In the later installments, the cartoon aesthetic made the humour too obvious, too forced. It isn't as funny when you already see a joke coming.
Yeah, very good point. One thing that jumps into my head is the bone song dream sequence in MI2. When LeChuck appeared from the left side of the screen, I almost wet myself with fright. Then Guybrush sees him and has his eyeballs popping out and his wig doing a flip. Now THAT was funny! There's a lovely contrast there.

2D does lend itself to that kind of thing, it may be more difficult to achieve in 3D but it would still be preferable to the current light-heartedness throughout the entire game. Even in TMI, where Guybrush is talking to LeChuck on the ship before LeC turns into a you-know-what... I couldn't help thinking... hello? This is LeChuck you're talking to, not a clown. It's not serious enough. LeChuck used to be scary, Elaine used to be sort of elegant and intelligent and slightly above Guybrush... now everyone is a clown.
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Old 09-22-2009, 02:42 PM   #12
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...I am getting sick of this argument.

Listen, Monkey Island was never a serious story with cartoony elements. It's always been a cartoon, maybe with some darker elements to it, sure, but a cartoon. Doesn't Guybrush shoot himself out of a cannon, with a frying pan over his head, and end-up with his head buried in the sand, his feet wiggling? Doesn't he light-up a match and by accident shoot himself out of a fortress to only wash-up on some island? Hell, doesn't he even solve a puzzle by telling a guy to look back whilst he zooms around to re-arrange a bunch of signs? Doesn't he get hit back with a receding cannon and into the treasure hold next door?

Quote:
Yeah, I understand that they had to do it to fit in with the 3D they had to work with but I wish they would've left it 2D until 3D was ready for it
This is only true to a certain extent. The game looks absolutely beautiful on higher settings, and really is a natural progress of what CMI was - which, in turn, was a natural growth of MI2.

Quote:
Yes, doing it like the amazing 3D examples we've seen now will be expensive, but show me someone who wouldn't buy it. And besides, do it properly or don't do it at all.
They did an OK job. The character models were a little lacking, sure, but the whole thing was very true to SMI and was an interesting rendition. If it really pisses you off that much, you can either switch to classic mode, or, if you wantto hear the voices, download the patch with Guybrush's hair or something.

Quote:
When you picked up a box, you'd think this is a goodly pirate adventure where there'll be guvnur's daughters and Mayan treasures and whatnot, and the art matches, and slowly the humour seeps in until you're left in a clearly hilarious world. But below that shell of humour, they still had a solid, serious story underneath:
...As opposed to a man going to insane lengths to save his fiance? As opposed to a man who doesn't care that his hand is cut off because he's worried sick about his wife? Come on.

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I only hope that developers take note of what guy.brush has made here and bring back the atmosphere to MI.
TMI is so extremely Monkey Island it feels like the series never went on hiatus. The wind alone makes the game.

Leave it alone. I don't know if it's nostalgia or just being averse to change, but your argument doesn't hold up at all. Sorry, I'm sure Dave Grossman knows a bit more about Monkey Island than you do.

You know, if you want dark, go play Diablo or something. Monkey Island has always switched between light and dark like a charm. What really irks me with you guys is that you're complaining about something that hasn't finished. Guy.brush's video was great, but my guess is that it was done with some pretty high-tech.

If we look at MI2, we see that it started off dark, then went completely light for 80% of the game, and then dark again. TMI started out light with dark undertones, and seems to be getting darker. YOU DON'T KNOW YET. So stop whining, for eff's sake. It's a great game with a great story and a wonderful atmosphere. Just...go listen to Fall Out Boy or something.

Last edited by Kroms; 09-22-2009 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:04 PM   #13
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People don't like that MI went from Disney's Pirates of the Carribean to The Little Mermaid.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:19 PM   #14
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Blimey .. calm down pal
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:35 PM   #15
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I'm just sick of these arguments, Thriftweed.

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Originally Posted by Monkey Mania
People don't like that MI went from Disney's Pirates of the Carribean to The Little Mermaid.
Because of mermaids?

Mermaids are in pirate culture. And these mermaids are so far removed from Ariel, or even Peter Pan (which did have pirates, mind you!), that...I mean, come on man, there's no comparison. Anemone's a somewhat nymphomaniac intersexual. Ariel's a weird kid who gets married to some guy she hardly knows. There is just no way you can justify that statement. Ron Gilbert said they were OK, you know.
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Old 09-22-2009, 05:53 PM   #16
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Well this is hard to say because what everyone thinks is a cartoon is way different. Is this referring to the subject matter? The style? How the characters look? The amount of comedy?

For instance, I wouldn't consider the first two Broken Sword games cartoons even though their animation is similar to the Bluth style. The characters in those games are much more realistically proportioned and look more like creations out of a serious comic book than what would traditionally designate someone as a cartoon character. The backgrounds also move towards the realistic with well thought out perspective, while the subject matter is grim atlhough with bits of humor thrown around.

The second two Broken Sword games aren't cartoons either, they are just ugly.

So if we are going by the subject matter making Monkey Island a cartoon, then it's really not been a "pure" cartoon since the beginning. Grim voodoo stuff, ghost pirates, curses, navigator heads, cannibals, Herman's buddy hanging himself with a swing, and a lot of the characters that are supposed to be more realistic portrayals of pirates lead the first two games to not make much headway for being cartoons. A lot of people probably picked up the original games to just play pirate adventures that just happened to also have humorous dialogue, coke machines, helium balloons, and rubber trees with some over the top animation and scenarios. It doesn't necessarily make it a cartoon. It would be like saying the Discworld book series is a cartoon because of the major juxtaposition with the fantasy world and humorous modern crap. While there have been more cartoon Discworld interpretations, like the animated adaptations or first two games, there are just as many "realistic" interpretations of Discworld. No one is outright dropping anvils on people's heads and lighting sticks of dynamite in someone's mouth with characters wiping off the incurred soot and being just fine though.

The weirdest thing is Monkey Island 2 is probably the scariest, darkest, and weirdest Monkey Island game, but also tends to be the most humorous. It plays better with that content in terms of juxtaposition against the ridiculous situations to get laughs like Guybrush flipping his wig, and appearing in a carnival at the end. It doesn't have to try so hard in turn to make us laugh, because a lot of the tension gets thick in the game and we are waiting for the relief. There's also a lot going on in the design, backgrounds, and subject matter in Monkey Island 2 that is closer to a pulp horror/adventure novel or comic book than what would be traditionally considered a cartoon.

Curse of Monkey Island would probably be conclusively be where it became a cartoon if we are going by what a cartoon is in the literal sense. While characters did tend to look exaggerated with big eyes in some areas of MI2, it was ambiguous enough to not instantly proclaim them as cartoon characters, walking a fine line for the humor in support with the realistic character designs of the first game. CMI's subject matter isn't out and out a joke a minute either though, but it lost some of the seriousness factor. Still the game oozes atmosphere and the backgrounds were very traditional in terms of lighting, mood, and painting, without much of the bright colors of say Toonstruck's backgrounds, even though they share the same TV show cartoon wonkiness.

I think Guy.brush is misreading Bill Tiller when he says the simplified and exaggerated character were just because of production limitations. I think they were pushing that style. Outlines and flat colors are not exactly what makes a "cartoon" afterall, so it's not like it's viable for nearly any animation studio to animate fully painted characters with the right lighting and shading frame by frame, flowing coats and all with realistic portraits. Little sustained traditional animation exists like that at all outside of experimental shorts or Richard Williams produced stuff, less likely for anyone to do a whole game like that. They also could have easily gone the Broken Sword route if they had decided to. It's implausable to think a small amount of animators at a game studio in the 90s were considering producing a full game's length of detailed and realistic animation that no other outfit had achieved. I'm sure someone there was pushing the exaggerated style of Monkey Island out of branding their game, as I've heard Ahern and Ackley hint at, not as a crutch because they had no resources to do realistic elaborate animation. Someone had to have enjoyed making and animating the game in that style, although it all wasn't necessarily up to Bill Tiller to say since he wasn't the only person there calling the shots.

Though, I can't tell what EMI is. It seems it's trying to continue some of the designs laid from CMI but failing miserably. I'm assuming it's a cartoon because of the exaggerated characters and the fact that they have to tell you a constant joke or make some sarcastic remark every other line, but it's too ugly and the art direction is not always clear enough to see what they were going for. Having talking monkeys though makes me think they were making something for the Saturday morning crowd, but that wasn't really suitable for the series as a whole.

Definitely I think ToMI could just benefit from a change in tone and to get rid of the bright atmosphere and a lot of the jokes and one-liners, but it isn't necessarily as far off as EMI. But it's not oozing atmosphere despite the toon parts like CMI.

REALLY LONG HUH?

Last edited by SyntheticGerbil; 09-22-2009 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:19 PM   #17
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Why can't a Monkey Island game drop the dark thing, though? It'd be a nice change.

I think it's going to get darker, don't get me wrong, but Flotsam was a very nice change of pace, I think. The winds made it very pleasant.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:27 PM   #18
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Why can't a Monkey Island game drop the dark thing, though? It'd be a nice change.

I think it's going to get darker, don't get me wrong, but Flotsam was a very nice change of pace, I think. The winds made it very pleasant.
Yeah I agree with that too though, it's nice to get some of the atmosphere of landing on the Monkey Island for the first time with the bright sea. It reminds me of sunny Saturday mornings when I was still in the 3rd grade as it took me forever then wandering around the island until I could actually figure out what to do.

Haha, I guess I'm really more of a chump for the dark side of Monkey Island because so few games have delivered in those terms of tone and atmosphere the way parts of the first three did.

I don't care either way too much, really, cartoon style or not. I just wish the new Telltale team didn't feel like they had to fill the games with so many jokes, although it's definitely not anywhere as ridiculous as EMI. I'm guessing the story will get a little bit more ominous as the episodes go on, as Monkey Island games tend to do.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:16 PM   #19
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Adventure games are always better when they feature pre-rendered 2D backgrounds; it allows the artists to concentrate more on art style than how many anti-aliased polys can fit in Elaine's buxom bust before the framerate astronomically plummets.

I'd definitely say that ToMI is becoming more and more ridiculous, to the point where it's not exactly funny nor pretty to look at. Of course, I've never really considered any of MI games to be funny, just humorously tacky (CoMI seems to break that rule, IMO), with more in-jokes than anything else. Or, for brevity's sake: they're trying to hard to be funny.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:32 PM   #20
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Sigh, just watch any video with some guy playing MI for the first time, see how many times they laugh out loud. They've always been funny. TMI isn't going out for all-laughs all the time either. I was actually a little disappointed that, when you play it again, there aren't much more jokes to find.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:45 PM   #21
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While there is certainly lots of humor and silliness to me TMI feels like returning to the spirit of serious adventure of the first three games. But we shall see how things develop with future chapters.


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Old 09-28-2009, 02:58 PM   #22
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Yes, doing it like the amazing 3D examples we've seen now will be expensive, but show me someone who wouldn't buy it.
I found someone!


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