Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Game modes:||Single player|
|System requirements:||Intel Pentium 133 CPU, 32MB RAM, 20MB hard disk, 2MB PCI graphic card|
|Input:||Keyboard or joystick|
Grim Fandango is a graphical adventure computer game released by LucasArts in 1998. It was the first game to use the three-dimensional GrimE engine. It was widely lauded by critics and adventure game fans as one of the best games ever in the genre.
Grim Fandango was released on CD-ROM only and featured a full voiceover soundtrack. The game was designed by Tim Schafer, who also created Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle. The game's title derives from a line of a mournful poem read by one of the characters. Grim Fandango was hailed after its release as the final nail in the coffin of adventure games. The pessimism was attributed to the fact that despite its high quality, it failed to sell well, thus tarnishing the image of the demand for adventure games for years to come. However, many of those who played it —including the critics who reviewed it— consider it among the best computer games of all time.
Grim Fandango was a bold attempt by LucasArts to rejuvenate the graphical adventure genre, which by 1998 was in a terminal decline, compounded by the rise in fashionability of the first-person shooter and real-time strategy genres. It was the first LucasArts adventure since Labyrinth not to use the SCUMM engine. The new 3D characters and control system that the GrimE engine used gave the game a completely different feel and appearance to the SCUMM games, even though it preserved many LucasArts conventions in terms of puzzle and dialogue style (and the trademark inability to be killed or become entirely stuck).
Grim Fandango did not sell as well as many earlier adventures, but among those who did play it, it was generally considered one of the best LucasArts adventures in terms of plot and characterisation, if not in terms of control system. The plot is often cited as the most successful attempt in the LucasArts canon to combine humour with emotional involvement.
The game is set in the Aztec underworld and charts the four-year progression of its protagonist, the skeletal Manny Calavera, through the land of the dead. Each of the four episodes begins on the Day of the Dead, and it is from this festival that much of the game's imagery is drawn - most of the game's characters are skeletal calacas figures, and marigolds are used (to beautiful but horrific effect) as tools of murder. Unusually, the game combines this traditional underworld with 1930s Art Deco design motifs and a dark, noirish plot reminiscent of Raymond Chandler. Most of the characters are Hispanic and the occasional Spanish word is interspersed into the English dialog. Most of the characters smoke (largely for cinematic effect)—but as the game points out "well, they are already dead."
Calavera, a genial character whose job combines being Grim Reaper with travel agent, turns detective when he discovers the righteous deceased are being denied their deserved post-mortem rewards. His investigations take him through a tangled web of corruption, deceit, and murder.
The story of Grim Fandango is one of the definitive highlights of the game. The game starts out in the Bustling city of El Marrow, where Manny Calavera works as a travel agent (A.K.A Grim Reaper). There you soon uncover a part of the corruption that is growing in the city of the dead. From there on you get to join forces with an underground resistance, collect newly deceased, scare birds and much, much, more.
The writing is spectacular, drawing inspiration not from other games, but from classic movies like Citizen Kane and Casablanca. Grim Fandango is enormously touching, and it is hard not to sprout a tear at some of the critical moments of the plot, and when you are not crying, you will be laughing. That's because the script is not only touching, it is also often absolutely hillarious. But the game doesn't throw punch-lines at you, there are hardly any real jokes in the game, instead, the comedy erupts in the characters and situations, much similar to, for example, Monty Python.
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