Finding the 10 Best LucasArts Games wasn't hard. In its day, LucasArts was one of the best and most innovative game makers ever, producing some of the most memorable titles of all time. In addition to defining and perfecting the adventure game genre, LucasArts also produced some amazing titles that utilized their famous movie franchises -- not just good for movie games, but flat out better than a lot of the competition. So the news that Disney would be closing the doors of the legendary studio landed heavy on the hearts of gamers everywhere. But rather than getting all mopey about it, let's take a look back at some of the good times! Here's our list of the 10 Best LucasArts Games.
The adventure games that LucasArts is known for are primarily original creations. Which is why this great title often gets overlooked when talking about some of the best. But Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is not just a great usage of the Indy license, it's a fantastic adventure game in its own right. The voice acting, while primitive by today's standards, is pretty darn impressive and way better than you remember. And what better way to kick off this list of the 10 Best LucasArts Games than with America's greatest archaeologist/adventurer -- Indiana Jones!
Over the years, LucasArts games developed their own distinctive brand of humor, thanks in large part to the comedic efforts of guys like Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert and Steve Purcell, creator of Sam & Max Hit the Road -- one of the flat-out funniest titles you can play. The game's story is based on a comic that Purcell drew in 1987, so it was already coming from a solid foundation. If you have yet to experience the hilarity that comes from following around a psychotic bunny and a fedora-wearing dog as they try to hunt down a missing Bigfoot, well, you need to do something about that!
LucasArts wasn't just about adventure games. Right when people least expected it, LucasArts dropped TIE Fighter on everyone's heads and proved they could go toe-to-toe with the big cockpit action franchises like Wing Commander. Released in 1994, TIE Fighter put you behind the flightstick of one of the Empire's most notorious vehicles. The game was a big leap forward from the previously-released X-Wing, with vastly improved graphics and AI. In 1997, PC Gamer surprised everyone by ranking it #1 in their 50 Best Games of All Time. Of course, this was just before 1998, a year that many consider to be the greatest ever in the history of gaming. But still! TIE Fighter was awesome.
Speaking of funny games, it's hard to find one funnier or more iconic than The Secret of Monkey Island. Really, all the Monkey Island games should be on this list, since they're the best and most consistent adventure games out there. And Guybrush Threepwood is, without a doubt, the greatest original creation to come out of LucasArts. But since there's only 10 spots to work with, picking the game that started it all is a pretty safe bet. From the hilarious dialogue, to the hypnotic island rhythms, to Murray the talking skull, there's so much packed into these titles that sometimes it just doesn't seem fair to measure other adventure games up to the standard they set.
In the same way that TIE Fighter proved that LucasArts could hold their own with action-oriented cockpit flying games, Star Wars: Dark Forces proved that the studio could own first-person shooters as well. In his first adventure around the galaxy, Kyle Katarn just absolutely owned the competition. Doom and Wolfenstein didn't have anything on Dark Forces, especially since it came packed with iconic Star Wars sound effects and characters. It also gave you more of a world to inhabit and manipulate, innovating in many ways that would influence games to come. Remember putting a sensor mine on the conveyor belt and sending it off down the corridor so it would detonate when it passed by the patrolling Storm Troopers? We do. And it was freaking awesome.
If there's any evidence that video games are just as good a medium as any to have a fully-realized creative vision, you could do a lost worse than starting with Full Throttle. This hugely-influential game marked the arrival of Tim Schafer, who took the opportunity to go wild with his creativity and managed to take adventure games to a different place along the way. Playing Full Throttle was like playing a movie. The characters were big, cinematic and full of cool. The streamlined interface was also new, marking one of the first adventure games to do away with the SCUMM interface that was pioneered for Maniac Mansion (the acronym stands for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion). If you haven't played it, find a way to do so. Now!
Perhaps seeing a sign of what was to come from the Canadian RPG powerhouse, LucasArts teamed up with BioWare for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the result just blew everyone away. Never before in a Star Wars game had this much detail and information been packed in. They went deep with this title. You played as your own created Jedi! Your actions decided the path you took! Light side or Dark side! And man, the twist at the end is one of the best twists in all of gaming. No M. Night Shamalama-ding-dongin' it here ... BioWare earned that twist! To add to its legacy, the formula for KotOR basically laid the foundation for a different space opera you might have heard of. Mass Effect owes quite a bit to this game, which is saying something, as that series is one of the most impressive achievements in all of gaming. These accolades are just some ofthe reasons why this title deserves to be on our list of the 10 Best LucasArts Games.
First thing's first -- it's wrong not to have Maniac Mansion on this list. We only have so much space and it's tough to fit everything. But there is a way around this problem. Since Day of the Tentacle is actually the sequel to Maniac Mansion and since you can technically play Maniac Mansion from within your game of Day of the Tentacle, it's kind of like having both of them on this list. And what list of LucasArts games would be complete without these games, which essentially serve as the blueprints for all other adventure games to follow.
So everything that was said about Full Throttle can be multiplied several times when talking about Grim Fandango. In addition to being a fantastic piece of art, Grim Fandango is widely considered to be the best adventure game of all time. This dark, funny, noir-inspired mystery set in the Land of the Dead was a huge achievement in adventure games, setting a standard that will likely never be achieved again. While critically-acclaimed, Grim Fandango never sold as well as it should have. But it has aged very well and really, really, really needs to be re-released on new platforms. For those of you counting, that's three "really"s.
How could there be any other game topping this list? Jedi Knight, the amazing sequel to Dark Forces, once again put you in the space boots of galactic soldier Kyle Katarn, this time on a quest to master the Force and become a freakin' Jedi. Sure, the graphics have not aged all that well. Sure, the video cutscenes now seem pretty dated and cheesy. But dagnabbit, this is the first Star Wars game that put a lightsaber in your hands! Yeah, yeah ... there were lightsabers in Super Star Wars. But that was a platform game. Jedi Knight was a FPS that made it feel like you were actually powering up your own lightsaber. That alone is enough to give it top billing. It only helps that, just like its predecessor, Jedi Knight was solid from top to bottom, with intricate level designs that put to shame many of the straight-ahead, military-themed FPS games that are out there today. Don't let the poor modeling fool you, this game is one of the all time greats, which is why it's number one in our list of the 10 Best LucasArts Games.