Return to Monkey Island

GWJ Conference Call 833

Return to Monkey Island (PC), Spiritfarer (PC), Ooblets (Switch), and Trombone Champ (PC).

Click Here to Download!

Amanda and Rich are joined by our very own Eleima Stargazer to discuss what games they'd suggest for getting someone back into gaming.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about, or whatever else is on your mind.


  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android


00:01:12 Return to Monkey Island
00:18:31 Spiritfarer
00:21:26 Ooblets
00:22:43 Trombone Champ
00:28:48 Games To Get Someone Back Into Gaming
00:40:40 Your Emails
00:50:32 GWJ Housekeeping

I am going to have to bring back my memories of playing the trombone in high school.

I enjoyed the games to get someone back into gaming discussion, but you missed one piece of super low-hanging fruit: Stardew Valley.

As an introduction or reintroduction, it is near-perfect. It's graphical enough to be charming, but not so much that it's hard to make out the action around the particle effects or for you to need high-end hardware. There's lots to do, but none of it is difficult enough to make you want to snap your controller or keyboard in half until you are *way* into the late game, and by then, you're thoroughly invested and have access to good tools to mitigate whatever is giving you fits. There's a lively online community and good, solid reference resources available, but you can also just muddle through on your own. The story starts off charming and low-stakes, but gets into some heavier material later, though it does it gently rather than punching you in the face. It supports a wide variety of different play styles. It's not expensive to acquire. It's made by nice people.

I think if I were going to create a "curriculum" or maybe a "sample platter" to get someone into or back into gaming, I would also throw in the following:

Burnout Paradise: A fun, arcadey driving game that has lots of fun things to do and it's a blast just to explore.

Firewatch and Gone Home: These two walking simulators get deep into the emotional stuff and do a good job of demonstrating just how much emotional resonance the medium can convey.

Knotwords and Wordle: two different excellent takes on the familiar concept of a word puzzle.

Slay the Spire: Gotta hand it to the conference call, this is a choice pick. It's also a useful example of something being highly influential in a short period of time.

From these, I can branch out, based on what people like and latch onto.

I deliberately avoided CRPGS, shooters, and strategy/tactics games in this list. Those can come later or based on the specific individual.

Most hated protagonist in games I love? Kratos and God of War.

Game I'd recommend to get someone back into gaming? Spider-Man on Easy mode.

I really dislike the protagonist in Days Gone. I don't know recall their name and I don't care to.

I randomly listened for the first time in a long time and glad I did: I've played the trombone for many years. You inspired me to buy the game and I have thoughts! It's hilarious and fascinating.

Playing Trombone Champ well is nothing like playing the trombone well.

The mouse movement is counterintuitive, tapping a button or key to play makes no sense musically, and they totally failed to make you feel like you are obviously screwing up the rest of the band with your tom foolery.


Playing Trombone Champ poorly is EXACTLY like playing trombone poorly.

The feeling of desperately trying to hit a note in a quick song at least VAGUELY near the position before hopping to the next, especially if the slide is just continuing in that direction with a vague nod to any one individual note. The sound of almost hitting a long note at first and then sliiidiiiing into position and hearing your slight mistake gliss across your memory as you do it again a few measures later. The unearned disregard for trumpets of all kinds. The wet, heavy smell of hot dogs in the air. It all comes back to me as I play.

I have no idea if there's any kind of progression other than unlocking cards, but it's worth the money to dip into every once in while for a good time.

The wet, heavy smell of hot dogs in the air.


I agree with what you all said about the art style in Return to Monkey Island although I was still surprised about it because when Ron Gilbert came out with Thimbleweed Park, he stuck to the classic pixel art. But another aspect that maybe intersect with this is how the non-Lucas-Arts Monkey Island games are treated in Return to Monkey Island, which is something that fans of the series were always asking Gilbert about. In the end, this game has a bunch of nods and references to the Curse/Escape/Tales games and I wonder if sticking to pixel art would have been a signal in the opposite direction, in the sense of suggesting the "real" Monkey Island games are the pixel art games. I also wonder whether coming back to a lot of locations from the first games, having a different art style gave the artist more freedom about recreating those locations.

The other things I mentioned about the game is: it incorporates a fantastic hint and to-do list system that means you will never need an external walkthrough guide even if you get really stuck (which, in turns, makes me think that everyone should play it in hard mode and just use the hint system if they need it); and also don't miss going back to the scrapbook after rolling the credits because it adds a really nice touch at the end (no spoilers here, though).

On getting people back into gaming, I can't help thinking of Wreckfest or Forza Horizon because of course I'll think of racing games (maybe even Euro Truck Simulator!). Burnout Paradise is an excellent suggestion above. I also think a lot of the classic management and city building games of yore have amazing spiritual successors and may appeal to a lot of people who may be put off by games that require a lot of precision and twitch skills. I'm thinking of stuff like Cities Skylines, Two Point Hospital, Tropico, and even Kerbal Space Program although that's a different kind of beast.