The unceremonious closing of LucasArts the other day was a blow to gaming history as we know it, as one of the most innovative and inventive gaming studios and publishers was put to rest after years of fine gaming. There have been a lot of great developers and publishers over the span of gaming history, but I’m not sure that there has been one that has affected myself and other gamers as much as LucasArts has.
LucasArts really cut out a niche for themselves with their adventure games, which still hold up today as some of the best games in history. Then things went to the next level when they finally started using the Star Wars license in their games. It is time to pay tribute to a company that gave to the world a lot of great games and look at their best games. Please understand that only selecting a few games is a difficult task.
Maniac Mansion -- Yes, there were other adventure games before Maniac Mansion and many adventure games after Maniac Mansion, but it really was the game that opened up a lot of eyes as to what you can really do in a graphic adventure game. The sense of humor, the in depth puzzles, the rich characters and the wacky story were all enough to keep you going. I spent hours and hours pouring over the game in my youth, getting stuck, giving up, then starting over so many times that I can’t count. When I finally beat Maniac Mansion it was one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I’ve ever had in gaming.
The Secret of Monkey Island -- The first Monkey Island game, which really helped to push the adventure game genre to new heights, even more so than the Indiana Jones games did. By now there was an established style within LucasArts, which came with expectations. Monkey Island took everything to new levels with Guybrush Threepwood and his swashbuckling adventures. I remember my desk littered with sticky notes on insult sword fighting or getting lost in some of the puzzles and mazes throughout the game. This was a great start to an even-better series that still lives on to this day.
Star Wars: Rebel Assault -- This was the game to play on your computer if you had all of the right components in it. It took the concept of on-the-rails shooters and made it super fun. What was really revolutionary was the use of FMVs to make it feel like you were really inside of the Star Wars Universe, as well as it looking way better than any game at the time looked. It also spawned a lot of other space shooters that followed in its footsteps.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II -- The first Jedi Knight was an awesome game, but Dark Forces took things to a new level by taking advantage of the newer accelerated graphics cards that were available. Not only did it look gorgeous if you had a new 3DFX Voodoo card, but it played like a Star Wars’ fans dream. Kyle Katarn was a great new character in the Star Wars Universe and while the overall story and themes in the N64 title Shadows of the Empire were stronger, this was just the better game.
Grim Fandango -- I feel like I’m only scraping the older titles here, but Grim Fandango was really adventure game perfection. While Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion and the Indiana Jones games were all incredible, as was Full Throttle, this was the game that stood apart from the rest of the pack. The same sense of humor, puzzles, strong characters and everything else was there, but the story and 3D graphics took everything to the next level. This was what all adventure games have to live up to now, this is the new standard. Grim Fandango came out in 1998 and I still feel like Telltale and other developers making 3D adventure games have yet to live up to Grim Fandango’s legend.
Obviously a lot of great games were left off of this list, but that is what makes doing lists like this so difficult. What were your favorite LucasArts games and what will you miss the most?