Tag Archives: lucasarts time machine

LucasArts Time Machine: The Dig

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So, I’m about to say something that might sound surprising coming from somebody who has been going around with the box art from The Dig as his avatar for the last 15 years. There’s good reason for that; not only is it an extremely striking piece of artwork, but there’s a lot about The Dig that I absolutely adore. I love the theme. I love the music. I love the artwork and the animation, and above all I love the sheer sense of atmosphere that The Dig conveys at all times. It’s the first one of these games where, for once, I don’t resent having to watch my character walk from one side of a screen to the other because that gives me a bit of time to soak in the sounds and visuals of its mysterious alien world.  The Dig gets a hell of a lot right, for all that it makes some weird choices in terms of its interface; it would work extremely well as a visual novel, or perhaps as the 1995 equivalent of a walking simulator.

But as a classically-styled point-and-click adventure game with puzzles? I’m not so sure about that.

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LucasArts Time Machine: Full Throttle

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Prior to playing it for this series, I would have sworn that Full Throttle belonged firmly in my “unplayed” category of LucasArts classics. “Unplayed” isn’t an exact description, as I did have access to most of them at the time and the ones that I didn’t I’ve since picked up on GOG, but anything in this column I’ve not played for much more than twenty minutes — the amount of time it takes to boot it up, think “That’s neat!” (or not1), and then immediately forget about it for the next decade or three. In Full Throttle’s case I had very distinct memories of playing through the opening biker bar segment three or four times and absolutely nothing after that, since I hadn’t played past that point.

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  1. Hello, Star Wars Rebellion.
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LucasArts Time Machine: Day Of The Tentacle

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This one is going to be tricky. Everything I am about to write is, in a way, largely redundant, because I already wrote an In Praise Of post about Day Of The Tentacle back when I still wrote In Praise Of posts, and I also reviewed the Remastered version when it came out in 20161. I think it is a strong contender for the best adventure game ever made, it’s probably also the smartest adventure game ever made, and Day Of The Tentacle is the one game in this series that I actively go out of my way to replay every few years. Because of this, it’s also the one game in this series where I have the entire solution already memorised. I don’t need a walkthrough to beat Day Of The Tentacle. I’ll never need a walkthrough to beat Day Of The Tentacle.

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  1. Which is a pretty decent piece of work, and it would have been the one I played today if I weren’t specifically trying to play the version that was originally released in 1993.
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LucasArts Time Machine: Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis

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Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis is second on the list of games I was most looking forward to playing for the first time as part of this series. Unlike most of the other games on that list it’s only ever referred to as a stone-cold classic — both at the time and by anyone you ask about it today — and I also quite liked Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade despite that game being comparatively clunky and obtuse by modern standards. The concept of an Indiana Jones adventure game clearly has legs, and I was excited to play something wholly original that wasn’t shackled to a movie script, and which had been developed during LucasArts’ true golden age.

Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that, contrary to everything I’d heard about it over the last quarter-century, Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis fucking sucks.

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LucasArts Time Machine: Monkey Island 2

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Did you know that the original Secret Of Monkey Island didn’t do that well commercially? It’s true; it sold strongly in Europe but these were offset by poor sales in the larger US market, and so it was only a moderate success. If LucasArts had known that ahead of time it’s likely that Monkey Island 2 never would have been made, but fortunately publishing and distributing a game on a global scale took much longer back in the 90s and so Ron Gilbert and co. jumped straight into the development of Monkey Island 2 after they finished Monkey Island 1, with no idea of how well the first game had sold because it hadn’t even made it to stores yet. This approach had its good and bad points; on the one hand we got a Monkey Island 2, but on the other the developers going head-first into a sequel meant they didn’t have time to critically assess why the first one worked and why people liked it.

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LucasArts Time Machine: The Secret Of Monkey Island

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So I guess I got what I wanted out of this project. Despite having played through The Secret Of Monkey Island six or seven times over the past three decades, and despite already thinking of it as a stone cold classic, experiencing the trials and travails of LucasArts prior to its release gave me a whole new appreciation of why it’s a classic. It’s an adjunct to my Bad Game Theory, where you need to play the occasional bad game to give you the right context for what a good one looks like; here I needed a better appreciation of the games that had come before it to fully understand why Monkey Island was such a groundbreaking tour de force of art, humour and puzzle design.

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