Warning: spoilers ahead!
One subject of much debate among adventure game fans is the enigmatic finale to LucasArts’ Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge.
In the fourth and final act of the game, “mighty pirate” Guybrush Threepwood finally succeeds in recovering the long-lost treasure of Big Whoop, only to find himself in the clutches of his archenemy, zombie pirate LeChuck. He hunts him down across a series of underground tunnels, harassing him with a voodoo doll.
With a clever use of objects and the environment around him, Guybrush eventually manages to build a voodoo doll himself and gets the upper hand. As the zombie pirate lies defeated, he asks his opponent to “remove his mask” and reveals himself as none other than his “creepy brother Chuckie”.
The very final scene sees the two brothers, both pictured as children, in a theme park with their parents. They scold Guybrush for “running off” and thank Chuckie for retrieving him. As the family moves on, Chuckie’s eyes sparkle with a sinister glow…
As fans know, Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert left LucasArts shortly after this game’s release, so he could never complete what he envisioned as a “trilogy”. Monkey Island 2’s finale then remains open to interpretation: was the whole adventure really a child’s dream? Or are the theme park and LeChuck’s role as Guybrush’s brother just part of a spell to further torment him?
The first assumption seems to prevail among fans, also supported by the idea that the “Secret of Monkey Island” that was mentioned – but never revealed – in the eponymous first game may be that the world in which the protagonist lives is actually the product of a child’s imagination. Frequent anachronisms seen troughout the two games also point towards this.
A special event took place yesterday for the 30th anniversary of The Secret of Monkey Island. Ron Gilbert attended an online interview by the The Video Game History Foundation, revisiting the creation of the first game and also answering questions from fans.
For the first time, he also provided insights into his version of Monkey Island 3, the game he never came to make. In it, he revealed, Guybrush would find himself in hell, fighting against demon pirate LeChuck.
It’s interesting to notice that both ideas – Guybrush in the afterlife and LeChuck as a demon – coincidentally appeared in the “unofficial” sequels to the saga, starting from Curse of Monkey Island by LucasArts up until Tales of Monkey Island by Telltale.
However, this may also shed some light on the true meaning of Monkey Island 2’s finale. For starters, it seems to confirm that Guybrush and LeChuck are “real” as we see them troughout the two games. Therefore the last sequence – Guybrush and LeChuck as children – is quite certainly a spell by the zombie pirate to trap and torment his enemy.
But we could also move further: what if the final scene itself – or, maybe, the whole underground tunnels sequence – takes place in hell already? The treasure of Big Whoop may actually be a portal to that dimension – the Voodoo Lady Guybrush meets at the beginning of the game actually mentioned it as holding “the secret to another world”.
If that’s true, and the world of Monkey Island as it appears to our eyes is “the real thing”, then the Secret of Monkey Island itself has to be looked for elsewhere.
In a way, the mystery continues.