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Old-school adventure games that deserve the Monkey Island treatment

The adventure game is making a comeback.

We never dreamed we'd be able to write those words – the genre has been dead or stagnant for over a decade – but the evidence is too convincing to ignore. Heavy Rain is experimenting with the adventure formula to much publicity, and some acclaim, on the PlayStation 3. Mobile phones, especially the iPhone, have made "point-and-click" a control scheme worth pursuing again, and brand new adventures are cropping up to meet that demand.


Above: This is what we mean by "the Monkey Island treatment" 

And now LucasArts, one of the companies that made adventure games popular to begin with back in the '80s and early '90s, is showing the genre real love once more. Last year, it gave The Secret of Monkey Island a sparkling visual and aural makeover that not only encouraged younger players to give the format a shot, but also made older players wonder why they'd given up on the format in the first place. This year, the far superior and far more accessible sequel – Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge – is getting the same treatment.

So what's next? Why stop there? Here are 10 other old-school adventure games that deserve to be seen and solved by new generations.

Contributors: Charlie Barratt, Eric Bratcher

Maniac Mansion

If LucasArts can make Monkey Island attractive and playable for today's gamers, the publisher can definitely do the same for Maniac Mansion. The two adventures originally released only three years apart, feature about the same quality of graphics and even share a control scheme. "SCUMM," which was used for Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2, is actually an acronym for "Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion." Half the work is already done!

The game's story – which follows a group of college students as they search a mad scientist's house for their missing cheerleader pal – might not be as appealing now, but the ability to choose different protagonists and receive multiple endings would be.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

This story, on the other hand, would have no trouble interesting modern, mainstream gamers. Yes, the good Dr. Whip – one of the most iconic heroes in cinematic history – starred in his own point-and-click adventure game back in 1992. And you know what else? It was really, really good. Indy did everything you'd expect Indy to do. He hopped the globe, he researched artifacts, he fought Nazis, he romanced beautiful, intelligent women… he just happened to solve some inventory puzzles along the way, too.

If you're wondering how we've written this far and not mentioned LucasArts classics like Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max, Full Throttle or Grim Fandango, here's our reasoning. They don't need updating. They have either clean, cartoon visuals that will never age, or they're made of 3D polygons that couldn't be as easily redrawn. For this list, we're sticking to the games – like Monkey Island – that need a makeover in order to succeed.

King's Quest (series)

Why should only LucasArts adventures get a second chance at fame and adoration? Sierra was the other grandfather of the genre, and arguably the more prolific one. The King's Quest franchise alone produced eight entries… six of which are fantasy masterpieces, full of whimsical stories, magical characters, clever puns and devious puzzles. These are perfect games for parents to play together with their children. The fifth ("Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder") and sixth ("Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow") are our favorites, but remakes of any except the seventh and eighth would make us happy.

Space Quest (series)

Once you've updated King's Quest, you might as well get Sierra's second longest-running series as well. Space Quest had six entries and, unlike King's Quest, didn't experience a drop in quality at the end. Any and all are worthy of relaunches. Don't be fooled by the simple switch in title, either. Space Quest, which follows the comic adventures of a bumbling janitor turned intergalactic starship captain, isn't merely the sci-fi yin to King's Quest's fantasy yang. The games were downright raunchy, with very adult humor, including a robot femme fatale who shot bullets out of her… well, hopefully, you'll see for yourself someday.

31 comments

  • Thrust - June 17, 2011 6:58 p.m.

    I thought about making 3d rendered version of Sierra's game Laura Bow: Colonel's Bequest. I had three dimensional blueprints of the mansion and stuff like windows and stairs, etc.
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  • philipshaw - March 15, 2010 3:05 p.m.

    When I read the headline I knew it would be a Chuck Bearhart article that mentioned Gabriel Knight
  • Romination - March 15, 2010 6:01 a.m.

    i was actually hoping to see I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.
  • MattK - March 15, 2010 3:26 a.m.

    HD remakes or simple slap on a network and download, I would so snap up just about all of the adventure games listed here and even a few unmentioned (Leisure Suit Larry, Day of the Tentacle). Classics such as these deserve recognition, and kudos to those keeping it alive.
  • thephntm - March 15, 2010 1:46 a.m.

    At the top, you said, "8 classics that could, with a little help, resurrect the genre," but then you said, "Here are 10 other old-school adventure games that deserve to be seen and solved by new generations." Just something I noticed.
  • bonerachieved - March 14, 2010 9:21 p.m.

    YEAAAAA Beneath a Steel Sky!!!!
  • DagDabreemie - March 14, 2010 5:12 p.m.

    Hmmmmm. No shout out to the Fables 'n Fiends Legends of Kyrandia trilogy by Westwood Studios, huh? Blade Runner, much?
  • miasma - March 14, 2010 6:36 a.m.

    Sam and Max, and Full Throttle were good also. I miss these kind of adventure games.
  • slapdatass - March 14, 2010 12:27 a.m.

    Well, if you have a Windows Mobile phone, the good news is that SCUMM has been ported over to it so you can play Day of the Tentacle etc on the train or wherever. Awesome.
  • aion7 - March 13, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    I think LOOM could have a graphical update (and perhaps an ending as well).
  • JohnnyMaverik - March 13, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    While I agree with the sentiment, the original Monkey Islands are better than the remakes, they just have more visual character. If you can't play the classic adventure games because they don't look pretty enough, you don't diserve to play the classic adventure games, end of story.
  • Grendel Prim3 - March 13, 2010 9:30 p.m.

    Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, man, I'd be all over those.
  • mckillustrator - March 13, 2010 9:25 p.m.

    even if they didn't "remake" them i'd buy day of the tentacle and full throttle in a second if they were re released on xbox live. I loved those games
  • Cyberninja - March 13, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    as soon as i saw the name i knew gabriel Knight would be on here
  • Tomsta666 - March 13, 2010 7:07 p.m.

    This is a genre i've never really played. I'm old enough that I was there when all this was happening, but being a console gamer all my life I never got into PC games. Saying that though I had an absolute blast with Monkey Island SE last year. I will definately be downloading the second one too. I might have to track these games down. Thanks for the heads up. " Also, Mask of the Sun taught us that bat crap is called “guano”. And that is knowledge worth knowing. " Ace Ventura Pet Detective taught me that :)
  • Ravenbom - March 13, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    No Quest for Glory love? Why Bearhat, why? Especially with the Episodic treatment that point and clicks seem to favor these days (Strong Bad, Sam and Max, Monkey Island and Wallace and Gromit) Quest for Glory fits that mold really really well. Plus they could fix the shitty fighting system from Quest for Glory IV. (Or fix it for all the games...) Plus, they had mild RPG elements which could be enhanced and would help keep the point and click Renaissance from getting stale.
  • onewingedantista - March 13, 2010 4:46 p.m.

    Wow, Gabriel F**king Knight, how surprising.
  • Yaro - March 13, 2010 4 p.m.

    I'd love to see I have No mouth and I must scream and sanitarium, although sanitarium was pretty good by itself, there is always a room for improvement right?
  • zigs - March 13, 2010 1:25 p.m.

    Indy and the Fate of Atlantis is one of my favourite games of all time, would definitely 100% love playing an updated version of that! Hell, rerelease it exactly as it was on XBLA and I'd still buy it. Twice. such an amaaazing game

Showing 1-20 of 31 comments

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