Last week saw the demise of one of the greatest developers in video games history. On Thursday April the 3rd there was a great disturbance in the force, as if 150 people had just been laid off. LucasArts shut its doors for the final time as Disney, the new Emperors of the Star Wars universe, closed it down.
The official LucasFilm statement said: “After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games.
“As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
Reports are stating that Star Wars 1313, the next-gen game that was in production, has been cancelled and there has been no word on whether the superb looking game will ever see the light of day.
Most gamers aged twenty plus will have fond memories of at least one LucasArts’ games from the past. Whether it be taking down the Rebellion in Tie Fighter, beating up bikers in Full Throttle or turning yourself into a human cannonball in Monkey Island.
The studio released its first games, Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus!, in 1984 for the Atari 5200, Commodore 64 and other vintage games platforms. In 1990 the studio took control of the Star Wars franchise with the release of X-Wing, Star Wars games had previously been developed outside of the Lucas empire.
X-Wing was a game changer not only for LucasArts but for flight simulators in general. It spawned a long list of spin offs in the genre and help influence may other games in that style. After the release of iD’s classic Doom, they decided to jump into the first person shooter market with Dark Forces which soon gave birth to the classic Jedi Knight series.
Be it a flight sim, first person shooter or racing game every genre you can think of has a Star Wars game to its name. RTS, check. RPG, check. MMO, check. Kinect Title, check. Beat ‘em Up, check. I could go on and on and on and on about Star Wars, but, LucasArts created some very highly thought after titles outside of the force wielding universe.
Monkey Island and Grim Fandango are two of the most beloved point and click adventures available, packed with humour and unique stylistic graphics. Not to forget everyone’s favourite bunny and dog detective combo Sam and Max, who got a recent revival via Telltale Games.
With this loss we asked a few of the Loading friends and family to give their opinions and memories of the some of their favourite LucasArts games:
Toby Ellis, member of the Killer Bits video blog team:
For me, LucasArts epitomised exactly what the adventure game genre was meant to be. Their titles were, and remain to this day, the greatest games the style has ever seen. From the incredible humour of Day of the Tentacle to the grandiose sci-fi terror of The Dig, Lucasarts never failed to engage us on an emotional level, or to tell stories which will forever be etched in our memories.
AJ Lornie, head of Forte Sounds:
All I have to say is Mercenaries – Playground of Destruction, a game I loved every minute of, a game in its true sense, fun, over the top, fantastical and based around a simple premise, blow stuff up. It’s a great shame that Disney decided to shut the shop that brought us that and many over great (and not so great!) games; especially as they had some cool stuff in mid-development too. A real shame, but fond memories, none of which are related to some of the tat Star Wars games they made though!
Ryan Mackfall, CEO of Crashburn Media:
I remember being shown Jedi Knight 2 on the PC and it taking over my world. It went from just something I’d partake in between writing essays at university, to me hosting a full time running server overnight where people from all over the world would come to play. It was like nothing I’d ever played before, and the wish for a new Jedi knight game is with me to this day (and probably some of my friends). Discussions on red stance, blue stance, or yellow stance will never be the same again. The gaming world has lost something and I have a horrible feeling it will never be replaced.
Rhys Bonney, Internet Wrangler at Loading:
Monkey island was the game that marked my transition into being a ‘gamer’.
I remember buying Monkey Island via the phone in response to a magazine advert having only ever played the games that came with my second hand Amiga 1200. When it arrived in the box the size of a small fridge freezer I tentatively loaded it up and I sat down to play for the customary half an hour or so I had committed to other games in the past.
I didn’t move for 4 hours, at the time, this seemed like a marathon session but by the end of the week I had faked a flu to get out of school and increased my playtime for up to ten hours with bathroom breaks.
I had never played anything so witty and it was the first title I had ever seen that didn’t involve killing or being killed in any way, just excellent writing, character development and the trademark Lucasarts/Ron Gilbert humour.
The game to knock my ten hour sessions off the top spot was Monkey Island 2 which I played for almost 20 hours straight in one sitting without eating any meals (Bathroom breaks permitted, I am not an animal).
My mother would tell me I was spending too much time inside, my response?
‘How appropriate, you fight like a cow.’
AJ Salisbury, Part-time Loading Security:
Firing up Tie Fighter: Collector’s Edition, which I had liberated from my brothers room like a Bothan Spy with some Death Star plans, and shooting rebel scum into small pieces has to be my favourite LucasArts moments.
At only the tender age of ten and trying to get a grasp of shield, engine and weapon management whilst dog fighting with the Rebellion’s finest was a thrill ride from start to finish and is still something that is missing from current gen consoles.
As a die-hard Star Wars fan being able to buddy up with friends and take my squadron into the battle of Endor with improved graphics would be awesome. Alas, with the closure of LucasArts this might not be something that I will ever get to experience.
Even though the closure is a sad day for the games industry, we at Loading are going to celebrate the life of one of the most beloved studios this Saturday the 13th of April at Loading Soho. Let us know your memories of LucasArts in the comments box below and we’ll hopefully see you at the weekend for out R.I.Party.
This article was written by Sandpaper Jones.