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
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.
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.
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.
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.