Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

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Retro STrife
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Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby Retro STrife » May 7th, 2017, 10:29 pm

I've never been much of a PC gamer, but I've had a short list of PC games over the years that I've wanted to play. A few of those were classic Tim Schafer adventure games--I played Secret of Monkey Island when it was released on the Xbox 360, and I bought an old copy of Day of the Tentacle and downloaded a special interface to play it on modern PCs. I enjoyed the stories and characters in those games, but the point-and-click puzzles and action just didn't hold up to my modern gaming sensibilities.

But, more than any other PC game, the one I've been wanting to try most over the years is Grim Fandango, another Schafer adventure game that finally ditched the point-and-click functions. I didn't even hear of it when it was released in 1998. But around 2002, Gamespot was doing a "Best Games Ever" series and they did a write-up on Grim Fandango...humor was rare in games back then, and I have a strong preference for games with good stories..so the promise of both those features, with great gameplay to boot, was too much to resist. I finally bought the game a few years later in 2006. However, it only works on old versions of Windows...there were some fan-made interfaces to run it on newer computers, but it was too complicated for me to get running and I finally gave up on trying.

So, I was pretty psyched for the Remastered version on PS4 when it was announced in 2014 and released in 2015. Now that I finally got a PS4, I picked it up on PSN recently. (It normally sells for $15, but they had it on sale for only $3 at the time.) I'm about 2/3 of the way through. Despite the anticipation, I'm feeling the same about it as I did about Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. I love the characters and the settings and the humorous dialogue, but I find the gameplay and puzzles tedious. I end up having to resort to walkthroughs too frequently...sometimes because the next thing to do is way too cryptic, and sometimes because I'm just too impatient nowadays where we expect instant gratification in games. I'm still glad I'm playing it, though, even if it'll only be a good game rather than a classic in my mind.

Anyone else play this or other classic Tim Schafer games?

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Retro STrife
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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby Retro STrife » May 22nd, 2017, 3:58 pm

Perhaps I'm alone in trying out these old PC adventure games. Still, I beat Grim Fandango Remastered last night and figured I'd post an update now. Overall, I enjoyed the game and I'm glad I played it. The world and characters are great, the dialogue is a lot of fun, and the story is fairly interesting too. It has a very good sense of humor, and tries to capture the vibe of old film noir movies. I especially enjoyed the Second Year of the game (it is spread across 4 Years), because it takes heavy influences from Casablanca, which is one of my favorite movies. In fact, I was inspired to watch a few old movies just by playing this game, including Casablanca again and Maltese Falcon for the first time.

The gameplay, on the other hand, might not be for everyone. Although it is played in a fully 3D world, it still feels like a point-and-click adventure game at heart. Things move slowly. You find objects and solve puzzles. There's no action, no fighting, no way to die. That doesn't mean it's easy though...it's often tough to figure out how to solve a puzzle or decide what to do next, and you'll almost certainly reach for a walkthrough at a couple points.

Grim Fandango is considered a classic among PC gamers. I can understand why... back in the late '90s, very few games had great characters and stories and really made you laugh. So Grim stood above the crowd. In fact, when talking about how games have progressed in the 20 years since then, I'd argue that the improvements to writing/stories/etc. has been even bigger and more critical than the progress to graphics/sound/etc. Games have good stories now and they can make you laugh as much as movies. So Grim Fandango isn't as profound as it was 20 years ago, but it's still worth a look, especially for the retro-minded gamers who want to catch up on games with "classic" status. The Remastered version is on PS4, Vita, and PC.

I give it a B+ if you have the patience for old adventure games, and a C+ if you don't. Day of the Tentacle is another classic by Tim Schafer, which I'd also recommend, with the same grades. An updated version of that game is also on PS4 and other systems, though I haven't played the new version.

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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby ESauce » May 23rd, 2017, 1:34 am

Yeah I picked up Secret of Monkey Island on 360 as well and feel about the same as you. I was excited for it because I loved Psychonauts and like you I never was a PC gamer so I didn't have the opportunity to play it, plus it's regarded as a classic in the adventure genre, and my wife and I really enjoy playing the recent Telltale adventure games. But some of the puzzles seemed very arbitrary and it is hard to figure out where to even go half the time. We kept resorting to walkthroughs and eventually just gave up on it. I liked the writing but I just don't have the time or patience for the gameplay.

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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby ActRaiser » May 23rd, 2017, 8:10 am

It's funny but I did and had the same experience as you. I believe I've bought all of the Tim Schafer games as they come out to ensure we get more. I try to play for them for a bit, get stuck, go to a walk through, feel bad for having to cheat, and then at some point mid way through I give up.

My most recent purchase was Full Throtle although I haven't tried it yet but am expecting a similar attempt.

Did you see that there's now a Syberia III game out? When I had more time sans kid I used to love these types of games. Now, I need something that gives some quick fun or progress in a short amount of time without me feeling like a dolt scratching my head.

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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby Retro STrife » May 23rd, 2017, 9:40 am

In retrospect, I probably should have titled this topic "& other LucasArts adventure games", since there were so many other classics by the company than just the ones Schafer worked on. Sam & Max, Maniac Mansion, and Indiana Jones come to mind. But oh well. I've only played Monkey Island (360 remake), Day of the Tentacle (PC original), and Grim Fandango (PS4 remake), each to completion.

ESauce wrote:Yeah I picked up Secret of Monkey Island on 360 as well and feel about the same as you. I was excited for it because I loved Psychonauts and like you I never was a PC gamer so I didn't have the opportunity to play it, plus it's regarded as a classic in the adventure genre, and my wife and I really enjoy playing the recent Telltale adventure games. But some of the puzzles seemed very arbitrary and it is hard to figure out where to even go half the time. We kept resorting to walkthroughs and eventually just gave up on it. I liked the writing but I just don't have the time or patience for the gameplay.


I will say, of those three '90s adventure games that I've played, Secret of Monkey Island was the worst. Tentacle and Grim are both funnier and more fun to play. I was really pushing myself through Monkey Island to finish it. Since I care about the history of gaming and it's one of the most famous adventure games ever (if not the most), I felt like I had to play the whole thing. But I remember it being very tedious and really wanting it to be over. The gameplay of Tentacle is still slow point-and-click action, but the story and characters are better than Monkey Island, and that pushes you forward a little more. Grim transitioned to a 3D world (rather than point and click), so it might be a little more enjoyable for modern gamers, although it is still slow and tedious at times. I own Psychonauts in my collection but have never played it...still need to do that someday.

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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby Retro STrife » May 23rd, 2017, 9:55 am

ActRaiser wrote:It's funny but I did and had the same experience as you. I believe I've bought all of the Tim Schafer games as they come out to ensure we get more. I try to play for them for a bit, get stuck, go to a walk through, feel bad for having to cheat, and then at some point mid way through I give up.

My most recent purchase was Full Throtle although I haven't tried it yet but am expecting a similar attempt.

Did you see that there's now a Syberia III game out? When I had more time sans kid I used to love these types of games. Now, I need something that gives some quick fun or progress in a short amount of time without me feeling like a dolt scratching my head.


Yeah, it makes you wonder how people played through these games back in the '90s when walkthroughs were much harder (or impossible) to come by. Maybe gamers had more patience with Monkey Island back in 1990 than they do today. But there's some puzzles in these games that I feel like I would have NEVER solved in a million years without a walkthrough, so I don't know how they did it.

As for the Syberia games, I haven't played any of them and they've definitely flown under my radar. I just looked it up and it looks similar to the Longest Journey games (I have the original Longest Journey on PC and the sequel Dreamfall on Xbox, but have never played either). The Wikipedia article says it's similar to the Broken Sword games, which I did buy the original on PS1, but never played. You guys are making me realize that I have so many other classic adventure games sitting in my collection that I haven't tried yet... Hopefully I can survive through them. But with games like Syberia III, I do think it's great that developers are keeping the adventure genre alive.

ActRaiser
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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby ActRaiser » May 23rd, 2017, 1:24 pm

Yeah, both Syberia and Broken Sword are awesome. I played Syberia on the original Xbox all the way through. I'm sure I used a guide at some points but really enjoyed my experience with it. Frankly, the same can be said for Broken Sword. I played that one all the way through on a Gameboy Advance. It's that good of a game and I don't think you'll miss anything from playing it on such a tiny form factor.

There's an update/remake of Broken Sword for the Wii that adds a few extra puzzles as well. And there is also the Vita/PS3 Broken Sword 5 games. I got stuck on that one not too long after playing it and never went to the trouble of finding a walk through.

I did manage to make it through the first half of Broken Age but haven't tried the second half yet. (It was released in two parts). Ahh, to have tons of time to play vids. One day when I'm retired...

Luigi & Peach
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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby Luigi & Peach » May 26th, 2017, 5:07 pm

Retro STrife wrote:
ActRaiser wrote:It's funny but I did and had the same experience as you. I believe I've bought all of the Tim Schafer games as they come out to ensure we get more. I try to play for them for a bit, get stuck, go to a walk through, feel bad for having to cheat, and then at some point mid way through I give up.

My most recent purchase was Full Throtle although I haven't tried it yet but am expecting a similar attempt.

Did you see that there's now a Syberia III game out? When I had more time sans kid I used to love these types of games. Now, I need something that gives some quick fun or progress in a short amount of time without me feeling like a dolt scratching my head.


Yeah, it makes you wonder how people played through these games back in the '90s when walkthroughs were much harder (or impossible) to come by. Maybe gamers had more patience with Monkey Island back in 1990 than they do today. But there's some puzzles in these games that I feel like I would have NEVER solved in a million years without a walkthrough, so I don't know how they did it.


I remember devoting many hours to the Secret of Monkey Island back in the 90's. Typical gameplay consisted of messing around with it for an hour or so and then quitting it for a day or two while you pondered ways to get around where you had gotten stuck. Needless to say progress was always slow and methodical and sadly, I was never able to beat the game. I will say that there was a real sense of accomplishment though anytime I figured out one of the game's puzzles before getting stuck on the next one.

I remember that my uncle had Maniac Mansion in the 80's on his computer (yay monochrome screens!). It was one of the earlier computer games that I got to see. I recall getting stuck very quickly. I recently tried revisiting this game through the DOS video game archive and I have to say that 30 years later I didn't make it much farther. As bad as you may think Monkey Island is with puzzles that make no sense, Maniac Mansion takes it to a whole new level.

I would highly recommend taking the time to play Full Throttle. I got it on a demo disk from a gaming magazine (along with the first 3 levels of Dark Forces) and found that the game was fun along with containing puzzles that made more logical sense. It's also a fairly short game too.

Sut
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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby Sut » May 27th, 2017, 7:05 am

The Broken Sword games are great entry points for adventure games. Their puzzles are generally solvable, the protagonist is likeable and the humour very good especially when out in the Middle East. The only issue I had with the original was that damn goat, my friend lent me the game back in the day and refused to help me with that puzzle - yes I am still his friend.

I revisited Monkey Island on iOS and enjoyed it, but wouldn't have got anywhere without hints and google.
I have Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango on PS4 when they were on PS+ free games but haven't got around to playing them.

Other adventure games I remember getting favourable reviews were Curse of Enchantia and Cruise for a Corpse.

ActRaiser
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Re: Grim Fandango (PC/PS4/Vita) & other Tim Schafer adventure games

Postby ActRaiser » May 27th, 2017, 10:22 am

Another fun one is Beneath a Steel Sky. I got it for free from Good Old Games.

Of course, you'll need a walk through for some of the trickier parts but it told a really great story. I did this one a few years ago.

https://www.gog.com/game/beneath_a_steel_sky

I believe it's still free if anyone wants to give it a go. I love Good Old Games!

And I'll definitely have to check out Full Throttle. I'm still slowly making my way through Breath of the Wild (Wii U).


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