RIP LucasArts: Master of the Golden Age

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Last week the lights went out at LucasArts HQ for the last time, and it was Disney pulling the plug. Geeks everywhere are eyeing Disney with trepidation, since it bought LucasFilm and the rights to Star Wars, but we never thought LucasArts would be heading to the chopping block so soon. Okay, so what has George Lucas’s game developer done for us lately? Not much, is the short answer. The real loss is what it may have done for us, but now never will.

Call it nostalgia, if you will, because that’s probably what it is. But the loss of LucasArts has touched gamers everywhere, even ones who haven’t played anything since Monkey Island first graced our screens. The pedigree of this developer’s back catalogue is something to behold. It’s a list any game studio would be proud to own. And although, these games will still exist without LucasArts, what we’ve lost is the hope that those golden days of gaming would return.

With Sam and Max Hit the Road, it was love at first game. In fact I still call things I don’t need ‘a completely unusable thingemy bob.’ It makes me laugh every time.

Then there was the quirky, film noir Grim Fandango and of course The Secret of Monkey Island. For some reason, everything LucasArts touched in the 1990s turned to gaming gold and players have never forgotten those halcyon days. This is why the demise of LucasArts is big news.

Here in the UK some people are partying in the streets to celebrate the passing of Margaret Thatcher, but meanwhile gamers are brushing a tear away and dusting off or downloading a copy of Day of the Tentacle, just to relive some LucasArts glory.

The thing to remember is, there was more to LucasArts than Star Wars and then more Star Wars. Of course we had the likes of Star Wars: TIE Fighter, back when the force was strong with that IP, but then we got the obligatory partner for the crime that was Phantom Menace. And you could argue that it all pretty much ended with Star Wars Kinect.

LucasArts’s track record this side of the 90s has been less than glowing, as the fashion for its style of adventure games seemed to fade, to be replaced by sandbox gaming and the all-conquering FPS. It seems a shame to lose LucasArts just as the adventure game seems to be having a renaissance, with the likes of The Walking Dead making great strides. In addition, 1313 looked like the most promising Star Wars game to head our way in a while ‘ its darker, edgier tone appealing to modern gamers. Things were looking up, maybe.

You probably don’t have to scratch very far to find that LucasArts was failing to attract the calibre of talent that could create a modern day Monkey Island. It was trading on former glory and that ticket had just worn out. Disney will no doubt continue to flog the cash cow that is Star Wars and I dare not wonder what will come of that endeavour.

Despite recent missteps from LucasArts, it’s sad to see the name that once was the mark of quality, take its last bow. All hopes of a stellar return to form in the shape of 1313 have been dashed, but we can always return to our favourite characters, such as Sam and his partner Max, and Guy Threepwood to smile and remember just how good we had it in the 90s.

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