Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Lucasarts Games that Deserve Another Shot

Shamus Young | 30 Apr 2013 12:00
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So Disney closed Lucasarts. It's not necessarily the end of Lucasarts games, of course. If they're interested, Disney could easily license out the intellectual property in the Lucasarts back catalog. I don't know if they will, but Lucasarts had a treasure trove of classic IP and it would be a travesty if Disney left all of it in the bottom of a filing cabinet in the legal department. If they were to put the right titles into the hands of the right developers, we could end up with lots of cool things that modern-day Lucasarts wasn't able to produce. They could make some money, we would get to see some classics again, and a new generation could discover a few of these old gems that have been largely lost to floppy disk decay and compatibility issues.

So what treasures are lurking in the Lucasarts attic that could now be dusted off and given fresh life?

I'm going to ignore the games they made back in the 80's - stuff like Ballblazer and The Eidolon. I never played them and they aren't really remembered today. We can also set aside the old Lucasarts adventure games like Loom, The Dig, Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max, and Monkey Island. Telltale Games has already revived Sam & Max and Monkey Island and they're doing a fine job of it so far. The others? I suppose you could re-release the games with a graphical overhaul, but such a project would basically be a game with niche nostalgia appeal. That kind of thing might sell, but it would never make the kinds of money Disney cares about. Okay, almost none of the games in my list can make Disney-class money, but old adventure games are a niche within a niche. These games loom large in the minds of fans because they were really good, but they didn't sell particularly well - even in the early 90's when they didn't need to compete against so many other, flashier titles with larger budgets and massive marketing.

So of the titles that are left, what potential reboots, re-makes, or revivals would work well today?

Dark Forces

The Dark Forces series has a strange lineage. The first game was pretty much a Doom-era shooter where you blasted stormtroopers and robots. The second game moved a bit away from its shooter roots with Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II by having protagonist Kyle Katarn pick up a lightsaber. Then the next game was Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, where it left behind its shooter roots for mostly saber-based combat.

That's a very unexpected way to number sequels. It would be like if the sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge hadn't been called"A Nightmare on Elm Street 3", but instead they called it "Freddy's Revenge 2". But this shift in titles actually makes sense, because by the third game the series had ditched its shooter roots and given us a lightsaber game with a third-person view and unlockable Force powers. It defined a solid template that would later be embraced by Force Unleashed. (Seriously: You're a Force-using savant who kills armies of stormtroops, level up your powers, and your girlfriend handles the piloting and exposition for you. Force Unleashed is basically Jedi Knight II on Red Bull with B-grade Darth Vader fanfiction thrown in.)

Why this is good for a revival: Force Unleashed has painted itself into a corner. The story doesn't have any room to develop without flagrantly conflicting with the events of the movies, and the ridiculous inflation of force powers is running dangerously close to comedy. From here they can only go for a reboot or self-parody. Rather than doing that, why not revive the Jedi Knight name? It gives them the chance to keep what works, jettison what doesn't, dial down the force powers, and write whatever story suits the gameplay.

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