With the recent closing of LucasArts, we at Twinfinite wanted to take a look back and reminice about our favorite games from that studio. The wide range of games chosen prove how successful LucasArts was for the 30+ years they were in business. While the studio is closed, we all hope that their successful franchises (and their former employees) find new homes and give future gamers a chance to experience their incredibly fun and diverse library. Keep reading for our favorite LucasArts games!
I’ve got a long, sharp lesson for you to learn today…
Look, all I really need to say is that there is a reason Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer are legends in this industry and it leads back to The Secret of Monkey Island. You get the opportunity, nay, the privilege of playing as Guybrush Threepwood, the hapless pirate wannabe. This is your relatively standard point and click adventure game which was so popular in the late 80s and early 90s, but like all of Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer’s early games, the humor was incredible and the references were plentiful. This is a game that I still have installed on a computer and play at least 1 time a year. Now get out there and practice because you fight like a dairy farmer.
There was once a time when LucasArts was a company that signaled an onset of change and quality. A time when it wasn’t just about frequent Star Wars games. LucasArts was responsible for a lot of great quality games, especially during the console generation of the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox.
With games like the obscure but impressive board game/3D fighter Wrath Unleashed, or the hilarious, violently excessive third person shooter Armed and Dangerous, it felt like the gaming industry had a developer and publisher that wasn’t afraid to try new things that they honestly believed in.
Then there was a little shooter called Mercenaries, where you took jobs for obscene amounts of money to blow everything up.
Mercenaries was released in 2005 and iterated on the open world genre perfected by the Grand Theft Auto by giving you the tools to demolish almost everything your heat seeking rocket launcher could reach. The destructible environments really made you feel like a complete and total badass by accepting contracts from different nations in war with one another. After choosing one of three mercenaries, you begin your mission. One moment, you work for the North Koreans and the next, you could be pulling a hit on someone for the Mafia. It’s the variety and how you choose to do what needs to be done that makes this game feel like one giant, interactive blockbuster action flick.
There are quite a few games I more than like in a way that LucasArts is responsible for, but when I think of the sheer amount of games they had a hand in bringing to our consoles and computers, I think of Mercenaries and its wonderful playground of destruction.
Real talk: My favorite movie of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark. I dragged my parents to see it in the theater at least eight times, and receiving it on VHS still remains one of my all-time favorite gifts I received.
With the benefit of a bit of hindsight, the third one is still really good and the second is…actually kind of crappy and racist. Raiders however is the perfect adventure film. It’s a film series that deserved the perfect adventure game…
…and it got one: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.
This LucasArts classic from 1992 uses the SCUMM engine and takes place shortly after The Last Crusade. Indiana Jones once again travels the globe just before the start of World War II in search of the lost city of Atlantis. One of the most impressive tools of this game is that you can choose to play it following one of three ‘paths'; Team, Wits, or Fists. Each path leads to unique gameplay experiences, but let’s be honest — Fists is the only way to go for the true Indy experience.
There was talk at the time that Fate of Atlantis was going to be the fourth Indiana Jones movie. It’s too bad it never panned out that way because the story and characterization in this game is easily right up there with the best this series had to offer. Oh well, I guess it could have been worse. At least Spielberg and Lucas didn’t do something stupid like make another movie with tons of CGI and aliens and stuff…
Though I could easily say that The Secret of Monkey Island is my favorite game of all time, my love for LucasArts adventure games goes much deeper. Back in the 90s when most of my gaming experiences involved the usual big-name franchises like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, I simply enjoyed games. When I discovered The Secret of Monkey Island, and thus, adventure games, I came to absolutely love them. It changed my life, so to speak. My gaming life.
There was this charm and hilarity to playing SoMI that was beyond comparison with any other game I’d played. From one random and insane circumstance to another, with puzzles, puns, and Alice in Wonderland-style logic stringing them together, I fell in love with the genre. It’s also the reason why I have to think twice when writing the word “scum” to consider whether it’s really spelled “SCUMM.” And, of course, Michael Land’s tunes added this great dimension to the game that was the impetus to seek out more gaming soundtracks and actually pay attention to the background music more often. Playing that game was such a positive turn for my nerd life, I even bonded with new nerd friends because of it. I didn’t happen upon the game on my own; someone I knew at school had played and loved it enough to recommend it to me, and even lend me her copy. Since I was new to the logic, I didn’t understand some of the puzzles, so we ended up chatting on the phone often thereafter.
I went on to play other LucasArts titles afterward, like LOOM, Grim Fandango, and the rest of the Monkey Island series, including the last title that was developed by Telltale Games. I love them all, and to this day the kind of game that excites me most is always going to be an adventure game. And my love for The Secret of Monkey Island (thanks, LucasArts, for hiring Ron Gilbert and aiding in making that happen!) is what started it all.
I’ll always remember my first really great LucasArts that really got me hooked. It had everything I wanted in a Star Wars game, lightsaber swinging, Force power using, Jawa killing, and much much more. That game was Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. The Force power customization was a blast to upgrade and made you feel like you were actually getting stronger instead of small stat percentage increases like in other games. Unfortunately, like in every other Star Wars game with Force powers, the light side powers were the same boring choices like Force Push or Mind Control, while the dark side powers were all the fun, offensive ones like Force Lightning or Choke. This was extremely tricky for me because I always wanted (and will always want) to play as a Jedi not a Sith. After a few levels of choking and zapping enemies to death, I figured I would be a Jedi that just happened to use Sith powers…
Going back to the Jawa killing, my favorite memory of the game was a level on Tatooine where I was using my patented Force run/lightning/lightsaber throw move, sprinting from one end of the level to the other accidentally killing the Jawas I was supposed to be saving from the Tuskan Raiders. It was funnier than it should have been, but their little squeals and screams were ridiculous.
After LucasArts’ doors were closed, the developer of the game, Raven Software, released the source code of the game. Hopefully, the will let people who haven’t gotten a chance to play the game yet will give it a chance now. Since it was so well received when it first released a decade ago, I’m confident that it will be enjoyed today and hopefully convince The Walt Disney Company to release a new game in the series.