The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of LucasArts’ Adventure Classics
The Secret of Monkey Island. Star Wars: X-Wing. Full Throttle. Grim Fandango. The history of LucasArts (originally Lucasfilm Games) is a list of legends and fond memories that can’t take full credit for the 1990s’ reputation as the golden age of gaming but certainly deserves its share. In its prime, the company’s iconic logo on a box was a mark of quality in a way the likes of Nintendo’s gold seal of licensing could only dream of. Even now, after what may as well have been a concentrated effort to piss all that good will down the drain, it’s the good times people remember.
Lucasfilm Games was started in 1982, midway through the first Star Wars trilogy. It was an odd project, set up partly to explore the possibilities of computer gaming—but mostly to soak up the profits of Star Wars and Indiana Jones instead of paying mountains of taxes. At this point, George Lucas largely stepped away, with former studio head Peter Langston describing the studio’s official mandate as “Stay small, be the best, and don’t lose any money.”