As video game releases go, few franchises have had to wait quite like Monkey Island.
The Monkey Island series hails from the golden age of LucasArts adventure games, and follows the hapless misadventures of the wonderfully-named Guybrush Threepwood as he attempts to become the Caribbean’s most notorious pirate and win the heart of Governor Elaine Marley.
The first game was launched all the way back in 1990 and was soon followed by a flurry of successful sequels, only to have decade-long gaps as interest in the classic adventure genre rose and fell.
The Monkey Island series, therefore, has a long and varied history across several decades and video game platforms. So with Guybrush returning once more after 13 years with the belated Return To Monkey Island, let’s take a look back at the iconic franchise.
How to play the Monkey Island games in release date order
For a whistlestop tour through the history of videogame technology as well as how the rest of the world played the Monkey Island series, here are all the games in release order:
- The Secret of Monkey Island (1990, Amiga/MS-DOS/Atari ST/Mac)
- Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991, PC MS-DOS/Amiga/Mac)
- The Curse of Monkey Island (1997, PC)
- Escape From Monkey Island (2000, PC)
- Tales of Monkey Island (2009, PC/WiiWare)
- Return to Monkey Island (2022, PC/Nintendo Switch)
How to play the Monkey Island games in chronological story order
Luckily the Monkey Island games are mostly in order – so if you’re looking to relive Guybrush Threepwood’s adventures as they happened, it won’t get too complicated.
The only snag here is that the latest entry, Return to Monkey Island, picks up the story after Monkey Island 2, which had a famously ambiguous ending.
After a bit of confusion over whether Return to Monkey Island was a new timeline, creator Ron Gilbert eventually told IGN that the other sequels were still considered canon.
However, chronology has never been super important to the Monkey Island series, as each entry is mostly a self-contained story with only a casual reference to other instalments.
So don’t fret too much – whichever order you pick, you’re sure to have a swashbuckling time.
The Secret of Monkey Island
Where it all began both chronologically and by release order, The Secret of Monkey Island is a charming point-and-click adventure game from 1990. Inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride long before the film series, The Secret of Monkey Island follows Guybrush Threepwood’s attempt to prove himself to three old pirate captains, only to end up competing with the ghost LeChuck for the affections of Governor Elaine Marley.
The Secret of Monkey Island has gone down in video game history as a classic, and was remade for PC, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in 2009.
Buy The Secret of Monkey Island from Fanatical
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
Released a year later in 1991 with largely the same development team, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge sees Guybrush search for the legendary treasure known as the Big Whoop. However, he also accidentally revives LeChuck as a zombie, leading to an ambiguous ending…
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The game was also a critical success, and was similarly remade in 2010 for PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360 and iOS.
Buy Monkey Island 2 from Fanatical
Return to Monkey Island
A comeback for the series after 13 years, Return to Monkey Island arrives with a vibrant new art style on Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac.
The game picks up after the ambiguous ending of Monkey Island 2, with series creator Ron Gilbert returning to continue the story he started after leaving LucasArts following the release of the second game.
Buy Return To Monkey Island from Fanatical
The Curse of Monkey Island
After a big technological leap in the gaming industry, The Curse of Monkey Island launched with cel-shaded animation, voice acting and a musical score. The game once again sees Guybrush rescuing Elaine, this time after turning her into a gold statue with a cursed ring.
The game sold well, but did not receive a remake unlike the first two games.
Buy The Curse of Monkey Island from Fanatical
Escape from Monkey Island
The first game in the series to use 3D graphics, Escape from Monkey Island sees Guybrush and Elaine return from their honeymoon only to find Elaine declared officially dead and her office up for reelection. Soon Guybrush discovers a conspiracy to turn the Caribbean into a tourist hub free of pirates, which of course LeChuck is involved in…
The last adventure game released by LucasArts, Escape from Monkey Island received positive reviews and was released on PS2 and Mac in 2001.
Buy Escape From Monkey Island from Fanatical
Tales of Monkey Island
Developed by Telltale Games in its traditional episodic format, Tales of Monkey Island was released nearly a decade later in 2009 and sees Guybrush accidentally release a voodoo pox across the Caribbean. With all pirates turned into zombies, Guybrush must find a legendary sea sponge to stop the endemic.
Initially released on PC and WiiWare, Tales of Monkey Island was a critical and commercial success and was soon ported to PlayStation Network, Mac and iOS.
Buy Tales of Monkey Island from CD Keys
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