Following the success of Maniac Mansion, Lucasfilm had found itself in a rather uncertain position. While their gaming endeavors had started to gain more attention did they did during their inception, the question of where they were to take them next still lingered. However, it wasn’t long until a conclusion was reached; in addition to making games based off of their properties, they would also continue to make point-and-click adventure games, their next one being 1988’s Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders.
The game’s story revolved around the titular character, a writer who must stop a diabolical alien invasion with the help of a scientist and two University students. Having originated as an idea by David Fox, another employee of Lucasfilm at the time, the game was initially set to be more serious and less comedic than what MM was. However, Ron Gilbert, who was helping to design the game, managed to persuade Fox into amping up the comedic aspects, resulting in the wacky sci-fi adventure we all know and love today. The game was also originally developed and released for the Commodore 64, and was later ported to MS-DOS, the Amiga, the Atari ST, and the FM Towns. A release for the Apple II was planned, but ultimately never saw the light of day. When the game was released, it was met with a fair amount of acclaim, with many of the praise going to the clever writing and design. However, it didn’t quite manage to reach the heights set by MM. Although it never got a sequel, the game still has a sizable cult following, and some fans have even gone out of their way to create follow-ups of their own!
Following the release of McKracken, work on their next adventure game quickly began, and soon, Loom would eventually see release in May of 1990.
Originating as an idea by Brian Moriarty, the game’s story revolved around Bobbin Threadbare, a young member of the Guild of Weavers, who embarks on a journey of epic proportions and self-discovery. Moriarty, who was a former member of the now-defunct Infocom, had previously worked on fantasy text adventure games such as Beyond Zork and Wishbringer, which can be seen through the game’s significantly more serious tone. When the game was released, it was meant with an abundance of praise, with many critics noting the engaging story, beautiful visuals, and challenging puzzles. Originally, the game was meant to be the first in what was meant to be a trilogy; the second and third games were to be called Forge and The Fold. However, due to the fact that the team behind the game was busy on other projects, as well as the fact that Lucasfilm Games was still a small studio at the time, they were sent packing on a one-way trip to the same shelf where Silent Hills and Mega Man Legends 3 reside. However, like McKracken, the game has a huge cult following, and fans have even gone as far as attempting to make Forge themselves.
After finishing McKracken in 1988, an idea for a game revolving around pirates sparked in Gilbert’s head. After presenting a group of short stories to Lucasfilm, they approved of the idea; however, Gilbert was also informed that he would not be able to work on it until he was done with designing an Indiana Jones game that he, along with other employees, were assigned to. After that was finished, production on the game had finally begun. Upon realizing that it would be far too difficult to design and write the game by himself, Gilbert brought Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, two other former Lucasfilm employees, on board. During production, Gilbert drew inspiration from various works such as Stranger Tides as well as his favorite childhood amusement park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean. After a lengthy production period, the game was soon released in October of 1990 across several computer platforms as The Secret of Monkey Island.
The game’s story revolved around Guybrush Threepwood, a fellow who travels to the town of Melee Island in the hopes of becoming a master pirate. However, when he comes across the local governor of the island, Elaine Marley, as well as the ghost of a long-dead pirate named LeChuck his dreams quickly turn into something much bigger. When the game was released in 1990, it was met with major critical acclaim, with much of the praise going to the amount of detail in the visuals, the characters, and the witty humor. Following the game’s success, a total of four sequels were released in 1991, 1997, 2000, and 2009 respectively. A feature film adaptation was also planned, though it never managed to see the light of day.
To be continued…