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Grim Fandango

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Tim Schaefer

GAME DEVELOPER:LucasArts

GAME PUBLISHER:LucasArts

Copyright 1998, LucasArts

Something is rotten in the Land of the Dead. Manny Calavera, salesman for the Department of Death, hasn’t been able to get a client in months that is eligible for a ticket on the Number Nine, the train that takes souls across The Land of the Dead, through Rubacava into the Afterlife. Manny can’t seem to sell any better package than a walking stick to help souls in their journey. Fellow salesman Domino seems to be getting these premium clients at an ungodly rate. Meche Colemar, a sweet harmless woman, walks into Manny’s office. She has a flawless record and is guaranteed a ticket on the Number Nine. Unfortunately, she only qualifies for the lowest package available. Manny has a suspicion that something is desperately wrong in the department and when he starts asking questions he is promptly fired from his job. Meche leaves the Land of the Dead to go on her trip and Manny and his pal (and comic relief of the game) Glottis go on a four year journey of heartache, hope, and self- discovery.

Grim Fandango is a trademark LucasArts adventure and simply one of the top five adventures ever created. Behind the game is a beautifully told story with witty and downright funny dialogues that you’ll be quoting for days on end. Dare I say that some lines are as memorable as the classic lines from the classic films of the Film Noir genre.

Grim is essentially a computer game tribute to Film Noir. Pop culture references abound paying tribute to everything from Casablanca to Hitchcock to Bogart. You’ll be snapping your fingers for days after you hear the phenomenal swing-jazz soundtrack that echoes the influences of Count Basie, Glen Miller, and Duke Ellington.

But any LucasArts game wouldn’t be a LucasArts game without well designed characters and an easy to use interface. Manny, Meche, Glottis and their cohorts in the 3D gameworld are convincingly acted and realized. There is a depth and breadth to the characters seen in few games before or since. Tony Plana (the voice of Manny) and his fellow voice over actors present us with great voice acting without sounding forced or over-the-top.

For Grim, the designers chose to reprogram and tweak the SCUMM interface (used in all previous titles from the company). Instead of a traditional point and click interface, the designers opted for a keyboard-controlled system. While some complained, the controls are very intuitive and don’t take away from some very challenging and devilishly designed puzzles.

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into the creation of this masterpiece. Many of the buildings and game’s set pieces are based on a combination of traditional Aztec art flavored with Art Deco design ideals capturing the mood of the game and of the period perfectly. The casino set is a page out of Monte Carlo history. The game’s artists have stretched the 3D engine to it’s limit to render some of the best Direct 3D graphics ever created, period. It’s easy to see that each and every piece of this game was lovingly created.

Grim Fandango vies for an award for being the most flawless adventure ever produced. You’ll laugh and cry as you follow Manny in his quest to find a lost love and, in many ways, find himself with the help of some of the greatest NPC’s ever to be laid out on a story board. Due to unknown reasons, Grim never did well on the shelves but over the past few years, it has slowly crept into most critics’ favorites list and has reaped some highly deserved (albeit late) attention. Grim Fandango is a game for all times and a proud entrant into our Hall of Belated Fame.



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