150: Walk, Don't Run

Walk, Don't Run

"It is the game you meant to play but didn't until it became hard to find and fell off the shelves, another single wailing the bargain bin blues: Grim Fandango. The crime noir, jazzy, art deco graphic adventure came from a hazy era when LucasArts' catalogue was more substantial than a long list of Star Wars titles, and the ever familiar shooters of today were only beginning to get really popular. The adventure game genre was in its death throes, and Grim Fandango was its last horseman."

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I found this on a bargain rack a few years ago, and still consider the finest $10 I spent on games. It's been played through in excess of a dozen times, and has outlasted several machines.

It was a great story with sharp dialogue, relatively smart puzzles, and unique visuals. Aside from a few jaggys, it really does still look beautiful. If they did remake it, I would hope they left the spoken dialogue alone. It was perfect the first time. The one armed slot machine bandit still sticks out.

What a wonderful game. I'm ashamed to say it, but I haven't played the game back when it originally came out as my computer in those days was a depressingly underpowered hand-me-down 486DX2 on which the game didn't even attempt to run.
I have finally picked up a copy on ebay about two years ago at a friend's wholehearted recommendation, and after beating it can confindently say that it was possibly one of the best stories ever told through the medium of videogames.
Now if only Lucasart could stop churning out Star Wars games for just a moment and actually bothered to port Grim over to DS... now THAT would've been great!

For me, Grim Fandango came at an unfortunate time.

It was a time when it wasn't acceptable for a game to be 2D, and so it had an irritating 3D control system, when all I wanted to do was click on things the way I did in previous LucasArts games.

And, it was a Windows only game, at a time when PCs were even less predictable than they are now. The flow of the game was marred somewhat by the necessity to constantly save, ready to reboot every 20 minutes or so when the system would freeze.

I soon gave up on it and went back to my consoles. I could see it had promise, but the obstacles were too great.

ukslim:
For me, Grim Fandango came at an unfortunate time.

It was a time when it wasn't acceptable for a game to be 2D, and so it had an irritating 3D control system, when all I wanted to do was click on things the way I did in previous LucasArts games.

And, it was a Windows only game, at a time when PCs were even less predictable than they are now. The flow of the game was marred somewhat by the necessity to constantly save, ready to reboot every 20 minutes or so when the system would freeze.

I soon gave up on it and went back to my consoles. I could see it had promise, but the obstacles were too great.

Well, then I have to say you missed out, UKslim. Sure, the controls weren't the best - they refined them a bit for the otherwise-mediocre Monkey Island 4, but once you get used to them it's really not an issue, and you get rewarded with what many people - not just me - consider to be the finest adventure game ever made and one of the greatest examples of storytelling that gaming has to offer.

I don't think your particular problems with crashes were particularly widespread, and a little poking around on the internet will tell you how to get this working well on today's systems. I -highly- recommend a revisit.

Grim Fandango is the closest thing to Literature that has ever been produced in the videogame medium (Note: I have not yet played Bioshock, which by all accounts may also be in the same neighborhood).

For example, note that in the opening cinematic, Manny lays out the travel options to his prospective client: A sports car, a yacht, and the Number Nine express train, but the client ends up with just a walking stick. Note that by the end of the game, Manny himself will have walked, ridden in a sports car, a yacht, and finally the Number Nine. Note that Manny sells travel packages for the four-year "journey of the soul", and that the game itself takes place over four years. The entire game is Manny's own four-year journey of the soul, yet it never makes the mistake of coming out and saying so - you have to figure that out for yourself.

Plus, that final "One Year Later" transition is the most emotionally moving scene I've ever encountered in a game .

I was having a kind of slow day, slogging through Mass Effect again (great game, but I feel like I'm verging on over-playing it, trying to get all the achievements). Then I saw this article... Oh man, I haven't played Grim Fandango in a few years, and it's about damn time to give it another whirl.

I'm already slavering for my epic year 3 showdown with Dom, and showing my "Bonesaw" to the little kids, and scaring pigeons with Robert Frost!

Wait... Dave Eggers is a GFN webmaster? As in... the author? Like What is the What? and Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? He's a Fandango fan?
Awesome.

I've been interested in this game for a while now and haven't gotten the chance to play it. I've seen opening of this game and I must say I'm impressed with what I saw. Perhaps I shall hunt it down on Ebay sometime.

P.S. All in favour of an XBLA/PSN re-release of this game, raise your hand.

 

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