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Opinion: There Needs To Be An iOS Version Of Grim Fandango

Listen here, see. What we need to do about this situation is to rectify it. The only way I see’s that happening is if we can reach some kinda mutual agreement. You know what the people want, you know what I want. So’s how about we take a few steps toward making a Fandango happen – of the Grim variety. Capisce?

I apologize for the mobster talk. But I can’t help it. When I think about my desire to see an iOS version of the landmark adventure game Grim Fandango, I just get a little carried away. Can you blame me?  After it was released in 1998, Grim Fandango blew everyone away and set the bar ridiculously high for adventure games. In fact, you could make the argument that it has yet to be topped.

This is something everyone wants. If polling expert Nate Silver were to analyze what title gamers would most like to see ported over to iOS, I bet that Grim Fandango would be near the top of that list. As well it should be! Not only is the game itself great on its own, but the excellent iOS ports of the old Monkey Island titles have had adventure game fans everywhere clamoring for ports of other classics from Lucasarts.

Think about it – how great would it be to have a folder on your iOS homepage titled, “Lucasarts,” and filled with games like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, and Full Throttle? Not to mention a certain, revolutionary adventure game that features stylish, tough-talking skeletons in an epic tale of crime and corruption. So what’s the hangup?

I asked Grim Fandango creator Tim Schafer this very question earlier in the year on Twitter. His response was a simple one: gotta ask George Lucas. This was an interesting reply. I read it as an indication that the desire was there on Schafer’s part to create a new version of Grim Fandango, but that one big thing holding it back was licensing issues with Lucasarts. Another could be just the task itself. Grim Fandango is a much more involved game than the Monkey Island titles. I’m no programmer, but I’m guessing that overhauling it for a totally new platform would require more work, given its size.

One of the things that set Grim Fandango apart from other adventure games when it came out was its shedding of any sort of menu systems on-screen. Instead of selecting actions from the SCUMM system in past Lucasarts adventure games, players would guide main character Manny Calavera seamlessly through the world by just moving him around. Interactions with objects and other characters were cued by his reactions to the environment.

If Manny craned his neck at something on the wall, you better walk over there to see what caught his attention. This spare, minimalist approach is not only in line with the overall Apple aesthetic, but it seems like it would be perfectly suited to the kind of touchscreen controls that you would find on a tablet version of the game. Which makes the recent Disney/Lucasarts news even more interesting.

With the resources of a giant company like Disney, mustering up the manpower to make a project like a Grim Fandango iOS port happen would be much more feasible. And if this tweet from Schafer is any indication, it would seem that he’s also excited. Seriously, this is Disney we’re talking about. They have billions of dollars! Why even stop at an iOS port? Can you imagine how awesome a Pixar movie would be set in the Grim Fandango universe? But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Right now, there’s no word on this. Not to mention that Schafer and Double Fine are busy working on their new adventure game. Which, by the way, will be making its way onto iOS.

Speaking of that new game, ever since Double Fine pushed the lever on the TNT box they had wired ACME style into Kickstarter and blew apart the website with their record-setting fundraising drive, adventure games have been on the rise. Really though, it’s likely that they never went anywhere.

The massive amount of fan support indicates that the core audience is still there and strong enough to support the kind of games they feel passionate about. Double Fine hit their funding goal of $400,000 in just eight hours. Since Schafer’s Kickstarter coup, there have been other notable adventure game creators that have taken advantage, from Al Lowe and Leisure Suit Larry to Jane Jensen and Gabriel Knight.

All of this makes me pretty confident that eventually we’ll see something with Grim Fandango. It’s just a matter of time. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), this game is set in the Land of the Dead, a place that has all the time in the world.

Next: Disney Acquires Lucasfilm and LucasArts for $4 Billion

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