The lights are on
In one of E3’s more left field announcements, the classic Lucas Arts adventure game, Grim Fandango, is coming to PlayStation 4, Vita, and PC. During PAX director Tim Schafer, artist Peter Chan, and composer Peter McConnell were joined by executive producer Matt Hanson and director of third-party production for Sony Gio Corsi to take part in a panel to reminiscence about the game, and talk about its remaster.
It’s important to note that the upcoming Grim Fandango for PlayStation 4, Vita, and PC is not a remake. Schafer says that to remake the game today would result in an entirely different game. Double Fine is calling it a remaster, and for good reason. The team is digging through the game’s original assets (which they were thankfully able to recover basically in full) and upscaling them. When the game released originally, every asset had to be compressed to fit and run on PCs. What Double Fine is doing is finding all the assets created before the compression and using those instead.
Double Fine relates this re-release to a Criterion Collection version of a DVD, and to further the comparison, Schafer says there will be lots of extras included with the game. When asked if that meant the game would receive commentary, Schafer couldn’t confirm, but said he did like to talk.
Undoubtedly, one of the extras that will be included with the game is the short eight-minute, 2 Player Productions produced video documentary shown before the panel began. In the video, we saw members of the team digging through the game’s original, uncompressed assets and talking about some of the changes the game will include. The team is working with a talented modder who added point and click controls to the game so it can be implemented for the re-release. The video also showed the game is already running, in an early state, on the PlayStation 4.
One perhaps odd aspect of the remaster is the game will not be modified to display in widescreen. Though there are technical limitations for this, Schafer said the game’s cinematography was originally designed to be viewed in a full-screen format, so to change it would compromise the original vision.
Schafer also was insistent that the game’s awkward-by-modern-standards tank controls return. “They were very popular at the time,” Schafer said, and followed up saying that the tank controls are for the elite players. “That’s how it is meant to be played.”
Both Schafer and McConnell expressed disbelief at the existence of a Grim Fandango panel, though Schafer did joke he was surprised they weren’t holding it at the inevitable Grim Fandango theme park that should have existed following the success of the game. They never thought they would be talking to a huge audience about Grim Fandango 15 years later. Developing the game was apparently such an exhausting process that almost the moment the game was released, Schafer took three months off and tried not to think about the game. It was a pre-internet age, so he wasn’t able to get instant feedback on the game from players. McConnell recalled a similar catharsis following the game’s release where he layed on a picnic table staring at the sky for a few hours once his work was complete.
For Peter Chan's thoughts on the game, as well as Schafer's uncertainty about why Double Fine chose to remaster it, head to page two.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
No one has commented on this article.