While George Lucas was mainly known as the creator of Star Wars, that was by no means the only avenue of his business acumen. In the early 1980’s he also ramrodded a highly successful gaming empire. Founded in May of 1982, Lucas initially called it Lucasfilm Games. It was essentially the video game development group of his film company, Lucasfilm. In the beginning, Lucas served as the company’s chairman. But during a 1990 reorganization of the Lucas companies, the Lucasfilm Games division was renamed as LucasArts.
Adventure is Out There
The type of games that put LucasArts on the map was their adventure games. Their very first adventure game developed by Lucasfilm Games was Labyrinth in 1986, based on the Lucasfilm movie that starred a young Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. But their ground breaking effort was the 1987 title Maniac Mansion. It was their first game that introduced SCUMM (the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion). This would become the scripting language behind the most popular of the company’s adventure offerings.
SCUMM is the Way
Adventure games like Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders in 1988, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure in 1989, and the 1990 titles Loom and one of my favorites: The Secret of Monkey Island set the standard for such games. Using a combination of objects found along with actions and character, it allowed the player to solve puzzles and advance in the game. Essentially, it was a natural extension of the old text style games like InfoCom’s Zork. Their games usually came with a touch of humor that became the norm for LucasArts adventure games.
These games helped Lucasfilm Games build a reputation as one of the leading developers in the genre. The original five adventure games that were created with SCUMM were released in a compilation titled LucasArts Classic Adventures in 1992.
As time passed, there were additions to the SCUMM technology that advanced their games and gameplay. This brought us games like Day of the Tentacle (Maniac Mansion 2), Sam and Max hit the Road, a couple of Monkey Island follow ups with Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, and The Curse of Monkey Island. In addition, titles like The Dig, Loom and Full Throttle pushed the SCUMM engine even more.
1985’s Full Throttle had significance for me because it was my first realization that Mark Hamill did voiceover work. He was the main antagonist Adrian Ripburger…and at the time I had no idea Mark did the voice. Of course, he would go on to become a voiceover God with the Joker.
Over time, the SCUMM engine was ported over to many type of computer platforms. In fact, using SCUMMVR, these games can be played on more modern systems. Myself, whenever I feel the need for nostalgia, I break out my ancient Windows PC and revisit those innocent days. Back when it was OK to play in SCUMM.
What older games do you remember playing? Share your gaming memories with us at GeekVibesNation and maybe we’ll look at one of your favorites in the future. Until then: “Game over, Man. Game OVER!”
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 15 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.