Legendary game Grim Fandango gets a glorious makeover

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Now we can all play this classic adventure game on our Macs. Photo: DoubleFine Productions
Now we can all play this classic adventure game on our Macs. Photo: DoubleFine Productions

Classic adventure game Grim Fandango is getting a brand new coat of paint, with a newly restored version of the noir/Day of the Dead mashup coming to Mac and other gaming platforms in January.

The game will have all-new advanced lighting effects, high-resolution textures, and remastered audio for today’s high-end gaming devices. It wall also have all the charm and cleverness of Tim Schafer, the designer who created many other classics of the genre first at LucasArts, and later at his own company, DoubleFine Productions.

Grim Fandango is one of the more influential games of the late 1990s, with 3D environments and a high quality level of writing and plotting that is rarely seen in video games. This new version will bring the legendary title to a whole new generation of gamers, letting them experience the genius alongside those who just want to re-live the joy of the original game on a machine that they currently own.

Grim Fandango originally came out in 1998 on Windows PCs, with Schafer running as project lead for LucasArts. It’s the first adventure game from the company to use 3D computer graphics, and a refined interface in which the main character is, in fact, the main interface between the player and the game (something we take for granted today).

It’s a black comedy with a noir feel, complete with a dame in distress and hard-boiled dialogue like a Raymond Chandler novel, that takes place in an afterworld populated by Day of the Dead skeletons. You’ll spend most of your time chatting with the other characters to learn their secrets, and interacting with objects to solve environmental puzzles and progress through the story.

The main story follows Land of the Dead travel agent Manuel Calavera in his journey to save Mercedes Colomar from her recent death to her final resting place. As is the way of many a noir story, Manny finds a trail of corruption that leads him to an underground revolutionary group called the Lost Souls Alliance, who fight the powers that be to help lost souls attain their just rewards in the afterlife, itself modeled on the Aztec belief system.

The original Fandango was a watershed of new technology and changed the way these types of games were made. With the new 3D technology, LucasArts was able to create cinematic scenes and compositions that just couldn’t be done in the previous 2D worlds.

The tech is impressive, for sure, but it’s the clarity of vision that really helps Grim Fandango maintain its status as a classic in the genre. Everything is thematically consistent with artistic influences that range from art deco, Aztec imagery, and some Picasso to boot. The level design and puzzles combine to provide an incredibly engaging world in which to play, something very few games of the time (or since) have truly captured.

Grim Fandango won many awards at the time of release, including unapologetically mainstream site GameSpot’s Game of the Year award for 1998. Designer Tim Schafer eventually headed off with others of the Fandango team to form his own company, DoubleFine Productions, which went on to produce yet another genre classic, the dream-based Psychonauts, an idea that had originally been slated as part of Grim Fandango.

We’re excited about being able to replay this classic game on our current hardware, like a PlayStation 4 and Macbook Pro. This is one fantastic adventure that no one should miss out on.