A couple of years ago, I caught the Pixies on their reunion tour. It was great: thousands of grown men in tears at the sight of their favourite band back on stage again, playing all the old stuff.
And it was all the old stuff: all killer, no filler. By which I mean no new stuff or obscurities from the post-split solo years. It was a chance to bathe in the warm glow of nostalgia for a couple of hours.
Of course, it’s not just the Pixies who are at it. Blur created a similarly emotional reaction at their recent reunion gigs, and there’s a whole industry now in old indie bands playing concerts where they do their most famous album in order.
Nostalgia is comforting, and that applies to games too. Why else do you think The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition has got iPhone owners of a certain age in a froth?
You don’t even have to squint to pretend it’s the original - you can swipe your fingers across the screen to make it so, as our review explained.
It’s the iPhone equivalent of a much-loved band taking to the modern stage, with the added bonus that Guybrush Threepwood doesn’t ever wear an ‘I’m above this, I can’t believe none of you cretins bought my jazz-inflected solo concept album about spoons’ sneer when saying his most famous one-liners.
iPhone Monkey Island is a spiffing update, in that LucasArts hasn’t Messed Things Up. Presumably, if it does well, it’ll be Not Messing Things Up for its other adventure games too, like Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road.
Which is fine. But without wanting to seem ungrateful, if LucasArts gets the iPhone bug, how about NOT just going down the nostalgia road, and instead knuckling down to an entirely new iPhone adventure for Threepwood and co?
A game built from the ground up for a touchscreen interface, with an all-new storyline, new characters, and yes, new jokes.
I know, it’s risky. Especially the jokes part.
Getting back to the music analogy, I saw the Bluetones at a festival not long ago, and every other song was introduced with the crowd-defeating words “Here’s another new one!”.
The crowd didn’t want not-that-good new ones - they wanted the hits. Shakin’ Stevens, even more preposterously, tried a similar trick at Glastonbury last year.
But this still isn’t an entirely convincing reason not to take a risk with something like The Secret of Monkey Island, and make something really special for the 45-million-strong iPhone and iPod touch audience.
It’s relatively easy to shove old console or PC games onto iPhone. LucasArts happens to have done an excellent job with its game, but you can bet there’ll be dozens (if not hundreds) of less well-crafted PC and PlayStation ports in the coming months.
So round up the original Monkey Island scriptwriters, LucasArts - or get some hot young gunslingers in who can fill their shoes (Dear LucasArts, my portfolio on request - ed). Put your best interface designers to work on how a graphical adventure should work on a touchscreen-only device.
Make something new! And forget that thing I said about Shakin’ Stevens.
Oh, and don’t ask your accountants if it’s a good idea on ‘return on investment’ grounds. What do they know?
People are rightfully excited about The Secret of Monkey Island appearing on the App Store. But an entirely new instalment? It would send people nuts.