What is it?
year on GameBoomers, there's a list of game recommendations garnered
from user's votes, and every year from 2000 to 2009, Tim Schafer and
LucasArts' Grim Fandango featured in the top ten games; more than
once finishing as high as number 3! In 2010, a 'hall of fame' was
created of the games that polled the best across that first ten years of
polling, and so Grim Fandango became ineligible for further
Lists. This means there's no specific data on whether it has continued
to be as popular, but I'm pretty sure it is still considered to be 'up
there' with the best.
Fandango has also long been a popular request
on gog.com's forums for a game people wanted to see revived to work on
modern PCs. So, is it any wonder that Sony's announcement that Grim
Fandango was to be re-mastered by Tim Schafer's current studio,
Double Fine Productions, received considerable attention from the
adventure gaming community as a whole.
Grim Fandango Remastered is here, what do we make of it?
Here we go again?
question to examine is what do they mean by 'remastered'?
with a remastered CD of music, the engineer goes back to the original
tapes of the recording sessions and makes a new master from which
subsequent CDs are pressed. This process allows for repairs to be made
to the sound, including things like digital noise reduction, or
re-balancing the tracks within the music. However, the essential music
is still there - the same recordings, indeed.
game, the same sort of process requires the developers to take the
original source material, and build a new product fit for modern PCs.
This is what Double Fine Productions have done: they've taken as much of
the original models, background graphics, voice recordings, sound
effects, game mechanics and puzzles as possible and put them altogether
in a new engine with some new ingredients. That was an awful lot of
material, much of it recovered by 'digital archaeologists' from obsolete
backup tapes and even the personal archives of former LucasArts
employees. The updates they've been able to make include adding modern
lighting to how the characters in the game are rendered on screen,
they've added point and click controls (whilst leaving the original
controls as an option), they've added a commentary track (just like a
movie DVD), and recorded a full orchestral score to replace some of the
sound-track that hasn't survived the recovery process in good condition.
Can you drive a tank?
going to attempt to review Grim Fandango as I might have done
when it was originally released in 1998; it was a game of its time, and
a great one at that. To do so would just be an excuse to wax lyrically
down memory lane, and for that, you might as well read a 1998 review. I
have to review the game in a modern, 2015, context.
really good news is that, in that context, Grim Fandango Remastered
does a really good job as a point and click adventure game. Yes the
graphics are a little dated, but a lot less than you might expect! They
were pre-rendered to a pretty high quality in the original game anyway,
it was just that 1998 PCs didn't quite have the grunt to show that off.
As for Manuel Calavera (the principle protagonist) and his co-stars,
well they have had a modern lick of paint, and the addition of advanced
lighting techniques available with our 2015 graphics cards (or even
2008, in the case of my Radeon HD 4670!). The differences are visible in
the remastered version when you switch to the old rendering mode - it's
just a click of the back-space key away, unless you re-mapped the key of
Calavera is a travel agent in the Land of the Dead; it's his job to help
the recently deceased to cross the Land in the manner most suited to how
well they lived their lives. The most worthy get a ticket on 'the Number
Nine', a train that crosses the Land in just four minutes, whereas the
scum of the Earth end up having to walk, and the journey will take some
four years. However, there's something rotten in the travel
business, and the wrong people are getting the tickets, and the good are
consigned to old Shank's Pony! Manny ends up tangled up in one
particular case, when one Mercedes Colomar ends up on the long road,
despite a life of charity work and good deeds that should have made her
a shoo-in for the Number Nine. And Manny spends the rest of the game
trying to sort out the world, and put it to rights.
an underground revolutionary army, a terrible forest, populated by fire
beavers (don't ask!), a run-down American diner-cum-casino, cat racing,
beat-poets, lawyers, unionised labour, corrupt policemen, a femme
fatale, a demon of a driver, hearses, hot rods, skeletal messenger
pigeons, the edge of the World, and an Aztec gate-keeper at the gates of
the next World... wherever that may be. All in the style of a 1950's
film noir, like the Maltese Falcon, or a Dick Tracy movie,
crossed with the Central American culture of the Day of the Dead. Quite
an eclectic mix, with a sound-track to match.
Has the gloss worn off?
some problems with Grim Fandango Remastered, and that's a
tremendous shame. There are spots in the game where it would repeatedly
hang, or crash to the desktop. Here, the parallel nature of most of the
game was a particular boon, the crashes never meant I couldn't avoid the
crash (having re-launched the game), I could always tackle a different
puzzle, and come back and try again later. From reading around the
forums, it seems the crashes aren't very predictable, but they are
reproducible once you find one. Irritating and frustrating, but not a
show stopper in a story as good as this one.
Fandango Remastered is still a wonderful
story. It's chock full of culture, character, colour and class. You
would expect a game from 1998 to look dated on a modern PC, but the
enduring quality of Grim Fandango shines through the remastering
process. The puzzles are still challenging; the a-ha moments undimmed by
Obviously, I really wanted to be able to grade this as an AAA+++ game,
but I can't. It is a terrific story, and it still belongs in the
GameBoomers Hall of Fame, but I think they needed to spend a bit more
time in QA to really nail it.
What do you need to play it?
OS: Windows Vista or later, OS X Mavericks (10.9.x) or
later, or Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, fully updated
Processor: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo 2.4 GHz, AMD Athlon™ X2 2.8
GHz, or higher
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4650 / NVIDIA GeForce GT 220 /
Intel HD 4000 Graphics, or equivalent
Hard drive: 6000 MB available space
Soundcard: Windows Compatible Card
Windows additional notes: GPU that supports OpenGL 3.3 or
Fandango Remastered is also available on
PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
(I used a
home-built 64-bit Windows 8.1
PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual
5200+ processor, with 6 GB RAM,
and a Sapphire Radeon HD4670 512MB video card, with on-mother-board,
built-in sound card)
GameBoomers Review Guidelines