Adventure Series: Part I
Travis offers a sentimental look back at some of adventure gaming's most memorable gems on the PC.
Article by Travis Fahs (Email)
September 30th 2005, 09:00AM
Around the time Leisure Suit Larry was release, LucasArts burst onto the scene with an Adventure called Maniac Mansion. Maniac Mansion revolutionized the genre by adding a point and click interface. This allowed for sentence-based input without the need for typing, and streamlined a lot of trial and error out of the equation. It was also, as far as I know, the first adventure game that allowed you to switch between 3 characters at will, could be used to solve some of the game's puzzles. It was a breakthrough title and it marked LucasArts' arrival as the giant that would rival Sierra in the adventure gaming world until the genres eventual decline. Maniac Mansion also spawned a brilliant sequel, headed by Tim Schaeffer, called Day of the Tentacle.
The Monkey Island series would become LucasArts flagship adventure gaming series. In classic comedic adventure form it told the story of a bumbling anti-hero by the name of Guybrush Threepwood, in search of adventure and riches, in a send up of Treasure Island. I don't know that the Monkey Island series ever pushed the genre into uncharted waters, but it remained one of its biggest success stories. The last title in the series was a moderate success, but apparently not enough to please LucasArts, and the series seems to be on indefinite hold for the time being.
Sam and Max Hit the Road
LucasArts may have peaked with the 1993 release of Sam and Max Hit the Road. Sam and Max was based on an underground comic book by Steve Purcell (who uncoincidentally was working at LucasArts' adventure division on such titles as the Monkey Island series). Sam and Max's universe was difficult to describe. It told the tale of an anthropomorphic rabbit and dog in what vaguely resembled a parody of a cop drama like Dragnet. Steve took the helm and his unique and twisted humor and vision clicked with audiences everywhere. It was also (along with Day of the Tentacle) among LucasArts first "talkie" adventures with a CD-ROM version featuring voice for all the game's dialogue, with some very funny voice acting. Sam and Max maintain a cult following to this day and spawned a Saturday morning cartoon series, as well as 2 sequels which were cancelled before their release. Telltale Games has recently announced their partnership with Purcell to revive the beloved rabbit and dog duo.
Under a Killing Moon
In 1994, dark horse Access Software made a major breakthrough with the 1994 release of Under a Killing Moon. Although it was the third game in the sci-fi film noir series featuring Tex Murphy, it was in many ways a rebirth. Under a Killing Moon pushed the technological envelope for sure. Released on a whopping 4 CDs, Moon came packed with voice, FMV, as well as stunning, high-resolution, texture-mapped, real-time 3D environments that could be freely explored. It also used these new tools to create an immersive storytelling experience that surpassed all other attempts at "interactive cinema." While still maintaining the series trademark sense of humor, Moon managed to be a gripping mystery story as well. Tex Murphy would find himself in 2 more adventures; 1996's masterpiece, "The Pandora Directive", and the problematic 1998 pseudo-remake "Overseer", which was the first game to be released on DVD-ROM. After Access software was bought by Microsoft, there has been little support for a sequel, but the series' creators remain devoted to their fan base, and there is still a desire to continue Tex's adventures.