Early last week, I decided to get back into Grim Fandango. It was one of the earliest 3D games I remember, and I had recently stumbled across mention after mention of the game in my readings.
A long time ago, I had played the demo of this game, back when it first came out, off a PC Gamer CD. I remember it being a ton of fun, not to mention one of the most intriguing universes I’d ever come into.
So, with a little bit of system tweaking, I got the game working on my desktop XP system. (I don’t even want to try with my Vista laptop, that would be a huge headache.) I figured if we are stepping up through the history of games, my playing about with IF would bring me to it’s successor, graphic adventure games. I’ve yet to get the bootstraper working with the original Monkey Island game I’ve got a hold of, otherwise I would have started with that.
Grim Fandango is a lot of fun. A few leaps up the game evolutionary ladder, it was one of the first games to really go 3D, and one of the last really good games to come out of LucasArts’ Adventure division, which would close down soon after. Its lead creator Tim Schafer would leave LucasArts shortly after the game’s creation, due to its immense success among critics and its commercial failure. (He’d go on to create another amazing game that was also a commercial failure – Psychonauts.) In fact it was the issues that LucasArts had selling this particular game that led many to declare an end to the once great reign of the adventure game. In some ways Grim Fandango is as good as the genre got.
I love the game, its combination of Aztec (and other) mythology and film-noir style storytelling makes for an amazing universe to play in and a good sense of humor combined with very cool ideas. However, I can see some of the issues with the genre. Adventure games (like IF games) require a certain mindset. You have to be able to put your mind into a certain place in order to be able to solve the puzzles. It is interesting to try and put my mind into that mentality. I’m getting better at it, but in the beginning some of the puzzle solutions were really hard.
At this point, I’m in the second year of the game. Things are getting easier to figure out and the game is, as always, a lot of fun. More reports soon to come from the Land of the Dead.