It seems curious that today Wikipedia’s entry of the day is Grim Fandango, given that I was just thinking about the game a few days back!
For me, Grim Fandango represents the end of a classic age of gaming. Probably the last PC game I ever bought, before I gave up PC gaming for the console world instead. It’s also widely considered to be the last great adventure game, in a genre that died a death to fast paced first person shooters. Who wants story and puzzles when you can have stuff to shoot?
Released in 1998, Grim Fandango was, like all good games, a flop, and put the final nail in the coffin for Lucas Arts who canned making adventure games altogether. Only now is the genre starting to get something of a resurgence, with Monkey Island being spruced up and released on consoles, along with the Monkey Island Episodes.
But if it was a flop, when why is it a good game? And even worth a mention? Well, like all good games that flop, they usually end up with a cult following. Grim Fandango was something very different on the gaming landscape, following a grim reaper called Manny Calavera as he works off his debts in the Land of the Dead. To do so, he sells travel packages to the recently deceased, as they make their way to eternal rest.
Of course, nothing is what it turns out to be, and our good guy Manny discovers that something is rotten in the Department of the Dead. What eventuates is a noir style, epic tale of greed, betrayal and murder befitting any 1940s type film!
And epic it was. Covering 4 years in game (in 4 parts) it came on more than a few CDs. The style was almost cartoony, and 3D in a genre that was for the most part 2D up to that point. I had heard about this game a long time before I actually bought it, and when I did, it was for about 20 bucks. It’s well worth hunting out if you can. I found the puzzles challenging, but not so hard that I got stuck for any length of time.
Great voice acting, a very cool setting and idea, stylistically, the game just rocks. There is still a pretty large following for the game, and general hope is that with the rerelease of Monkey Island for the consoles, Lucas Arts might try again with this unique little gem.