LucasArts - Company History - Adventure Games

Adventure Games

The first adventure game developed by Lucasfilm Games was Labyrinth (1986), based on the Lucasfilm movie of the same name. ICOM's Déjà Vu inspired the 1987 title Maniac Mansion which introduced SCUMM, the scripting language behind most of the company's later adventure offerings. The adventures released in the following years, such as Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (1989), LOOM (1990) and especially the critically acclaimed The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), helped Lucasfilm Games build a reputation as one of the leading developers in the genre. It was often referred to as one of the two big names in the field, competing with Sierra On-line as a developer of high quality adventures. The first half of the 1990s was the heyday for the company's adventure fame, with classic titles such as Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991), Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992) and the Maniac Mansion sequel Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (1993).

In the latter half of the decade, the popularity of adventure games faded and the costs associated with game development increased as high-resolution art and CD quality audio became standard fare. The PC market wanted titles that would show off expensive new graphics cards to best effect, a change replicated in the home console market as the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 dictated the nature of the majority of games produced for those platforms. The adventure genre—two-dimensional, focused on story, script and puzzle solving—was no longer popular with the masses of new gamers.

LucasArts still managed to release moderately commercially successful titles: The Curse of Monkey Island (1997) was the last LucasArts adventure game to retain traditional two-dimensional graphics and point-and-click interface. Grim Fandango (1998) was LucasArts' first attempt to convert 2D adventure to a 3D environment. The highly stylised visuals, superb voice acting and sophisticated writing earned Grim Fandango many plaudits, including GameSpot's Game of the Year award.

Escape from Monkey Island (2000), the fourth installment to the Monkey Island series, featured the same control scheme as Grim Fandango and was generally well received. It is to date the last adventure game the company has released. A sequel to Full Throttle and a new Sam & Max game were in development but these projects were cancelled, in 2003 and 2004 respectively, before the games were finished. When the rights to the Sam and Max franchise expired in 2005, the creator of Sam and Max, Steve Purcell, took ownership. He then licensed Sam and Max to Telltale Games to be developed into an episodic game. Telltale Games is made up primarily of former LucasArts employees who had worked on the Sam and Max sequel and were let go after the project was canceled.

LucasArts halted adventure game development for the next five years, focusing instead on their Star Wars games. They remained silent and did not re-release their old games on digital distribution platforms, as other studios were doing at the time. However, in 2002, the company pledged that at least fifty percent of its releases would have nothing to do with Star Wars. It was not until 2009 that LucasArts returned to the genre. On June 1, 2009, they announced both The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition, a high definition remake of the original game with updated graphics, music and voice work, and Tales of Monkey Island, a new episodic installment in the Monkey Island series developed by Telltale Games.

Then, on July 6, 2009, they announced that they would be re-releasing a number of their classic games, including Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and LOOM, on Steam. The re-releases were, for the first time, native versions built for Microsoft Windows. This was the first time in many years that the studio had offered any support for its classic adventure titles.

The second game in the Monkey Island series also received a high definition remake, entitled Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge Special Edition in 2010. Both Monkey Island special edition games were released in a compilation, Monkey Island Special Edition Collection, exclusively in Europe in 2011.

The release of the unofficial SCUMM virtual machine, ScummVM, has led to something of a resurgence for LucasArts adventure games among present-day gamers. Using ScummVM, legacy adventure titles can easily be run on modern computers and even more unusual platforms such as video game consoles, mobile phones and PDAs.

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Famous quotes containing the words games and/or adventure:

    Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    In the court of the movie Owner, none criticized, none doubted. And none dared speak of art. In the Owner’s mind art was a synonym for bankruptcy.... The movie Owners are the only troupe in the history of entertainment that has never been seduced by the adventure of the entertainment world.
    Ben Hecht (1893–1964)