The story for this week:
- Old LucasArts Games on Steam, Discussion of Adventure Titles in Particular
Old LucasArts Games on Steam, Discussion of Adventure Titles in Particular
I’ll admit, I had trouble finding stories this week that haven’t already been covered here at Co-Optimus like Modern Warfare 2 now has Call of Duty in the title, Command and Conquer 4 being announced, the new Mechwarrior game being announced or that the new Summer of Arcade Xbox Live campaign game lineup is out.
No, the only big news from my perspective this week was LucasArts announcing on Monday that some of its classic (and not so classic, I’m looking at you Star Wars Starfighter) games were coming to Steam on Wednesday. They didn’t announce prices then and we would wait until Wednesday to find out. Here was the lineup with the prices:
Armed and Dangerous - $9.99
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - $4.99
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure - $4.99
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventure - $19.99
LOOM - $4.99
Star Wars Battlefront II - $19.99
Star Wars Republic Commando - $9.99
Star Wars Starfighter - $4.99
The Dig - $4.99
Thrillville: Off the Rails - $19.99
I am going to hone in on all the $4.99 ones except for the previously mentioned Starfighter. Although all the classic adventure games are not out yet, the four presented in this lineup are some of the best middle lifespan adventure (except for The Dig which came out towards the end of SCUMM development) games LucasArts put out. For basically $20 and if you don’t have them or have never played them, you can have four fantastic adventure games.
LucasArts had built an engine called SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) and used it, obviously, in the original Maniac Mansion in 1987 (I still consider this game a classic and hopefully LucasArts will be bringing it out on Steam at some point). They kept updating the engine through the third game in the Monkey Island series, so basically this system was used from 1987 to 1997 and many classic adventure games came out of this engine.
First up chronologically was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure. Two games were released in 1989 to coincide with the movie, this game and one called The Action Game. The latter one was an okay game, but the graphic adventure one was excellent. It was the third game in the SCUMM series after Maniac Mansion and Zac McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, so the engine itself was still in its relative infancy, although it had already generated two great adventure games. This one was no different and even though the graphics are archaic by today’s standards, it will give you a sense of what adventure games were like back in the late 90s until one of the other two show up on Steam.
Next up is LOOM, kind of the oddball of the bunch, but still a fantastic game. Created by Brian Moriarty, probably best known for his work at Infocom before this game creating Wishbringer, Trinity and Beyond Zork: The Coconut of Quendor, all text adventure games. Much like his other storytelling games, LOOM is built in a fantasy world where magic is front and center. Instead of having the common verbiage commands on the bottom like previous SCUMM games, the actions were done via Bobbin’s distaff where you would play notes in sequence in order to do things like open a door. If you played the hardest difficulty, you would have only your ears to rely on in regards to note phrases whereas on the other difficulties you could look up the note order. This game is not for everyone, but it was a really unique adventure game for its time in 1990.
Next up is an original Indiana Jones adventure game called Fate of Atlantis. I believe I own both the non-voiced and voiced version of this game. I played the non-voiced one first of course and loved the game so much that when the CD-ROM version came out with full talking I rushed out to get it and play through the game again. The nice thing about this game is that it allows you to choose three paths early on: the Wits Path (harder puzzles, less action), the Fists Path (more action, less puzzle) and the Team Path (where you team up with Sophia). Each path has different things in it, so basically you could play through the game three times! The story was good (I was 16 when this game came out) and the adventure itself was fresh since there was no movie tied to it at all. Outside of the next game, if you can only spend $10 be sure this is the other game you pick up in this list.
Finally there is The Dig, a game born from the imagination of Steven Spielberg, who had planned to make it into a part of the TV show Amazing Stories or a film, but felt the treatment was cost prohibitive. Development began on the game in 1989 and it went through four project leaders before it came out finally in 1995. Other famous people outside of Spielberg tied to this game are famous writer Orson Scott Card who did the dialogue and the aforementioned Brian Moriarty who was the 2nd project manager and did a majority of the story treatment and the final product was close to what he had built.
Even though it had a difficult development process, the game that came out in the end was simply fantastic. The game was available only on CD-ROM and it starred the voice talents of Robert Patrick who you could even get to say, “Have you seen this boy?” in the game just like he did in Terminator 2. If you only have $5 to spend, this is the game to get of the currently available ones on Steam.