Apr 04

Lucasarts Memories

Lucasarts LogoDisney is closing Lucasarts studios.  While I still can’t suppress a little smile when I see the Lucasarts logo at the start of a game, it’s been a long time since the glory days of the game makers.  The first Lucasarts game I played was actually a Lucasfilm Games division effort called The Eidolon.  It was different and imaginative.  It could be fun in spurts.  I believe I played it first on our old Atari 800XL.  I later had a 130XE so it could have been that.  What I really liked about the game was the sense that they were trying to create a world.

Of course, my fondest memories are from Monkey Island and X-Wing.  I started gaming with Infocom text adventures.  I was lucky to computers around most of my life.  From the old Timex-Sinclair to the TRS-Model III to our Atari’s to eventually PC’s, there was always a computer around.  It was amazing what we put up with back in those days, but the games made it worth it.  Infocom was one of my first loves.  I was so bad that I worried that graphical adventures might ruin the genre.  King’s quest and Leisure Suit Larry started to turn me around.  My Dad loved Police Quest so I got to try those. I think my brother got me The Secret of Monkey Island as a Christmas gift.

There had been plenty of funny moments in games I had enjoyed.  Some had even been labeled as comedies. Monkey Island brought a whole new level of zany to my computer.  It was like a Monty Python pirate skit had exploded out of control.  Yes, some of the puzzles were obscure, and I wasn’t always sure where to go or what to do, but I was having fun the whole time and laughing along the way.  I even finished the game on my own which was pretty good in the days of paid hint books and hint lines.  It was a dark time before the internet and gamefaqs.  I enjoyed other Lucasarts adventures, especially the Indiana Jones games and Grim Fandango, but Monkey Island holds a special place in my heart.

Similarly, X-Wing is so near and dear to me that I can’t imagine what my gaming life would have been without it.  I grew up in a small town.  I didn’t know anyone my age who didn’t love Star Wars.  Not everyone was able to afford the big play sets or ships (I personally always wanted a sandcrawler and an AT-AT), but we all had some action figures.  We all wanted to try the Death Star trench run.  So you can imagine my excitement when I first heard that Lucasarts was going to make an X-Wing game.  My mind instantly locked my S-foils in attack position.  I can’t remember if we even had preorders back then.  I might have just kept calling and pestering my local store.

Ah, the bliss of the first play.  Now it would seem clunky and primitive, but back then.  The sound, they nailed the sound.  I was flying an X-Wing. Ok, I think the first mission actually had us liberating some X-Wings.  Actually, I’m sure there was some flight control tutorial.  No, I seem to recall blowing up some inactive TIE fighters.  So many memories, dogfights, base raids, A-Wings, Y-Wings with ion cannons, stupid escort missions, blowing up star destroyers.  It was so much fun.  Then it culminated in the attack on the Death Star.  All the Death Star missions were tricky, but the trench run was unforgettable.  I recall jumping up and whooping out loud the first time I hit the exhaust port just right.  Then they released the Imperial Pursuit expansion with interdictor cruisers.  Losing the advantage in a hit and run raid because the interdictors had arrived just proved the level of immersion I had for that game.  I know not everyone loved the B-Wing in its self titled expansion, but I was thrilled with the raw firepower.

Yes, I know that TIE fighter was a better game.  The missions were better and the plot had that whole secret society angle. The whole thing seemed more refined.  Add to that the raw fear of flying a generic TIE fighter without shields, it was quantifiably better.  It was such a relief to get in the more advanced fighters.  However, it didn’t have the magic of being the first time.  Perhaps I’ll jump in the cockpit again if I can get my TIE fight collector’s edition to run on Windows 7.  I’d play X-Wing, but someone, long, long ago in a lifetime far, far way borrowed it and never returned it.  I think I have the original floppies but no drive to play them.

I know many people have said it recently, but I’ll miss Lucasarts even though they’ve been gone a long, long time.

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