Saturday, June 16, 2018

Gaming Ads: Lucasfilm/LucasArts

Lucasfilm and LucasArts are the same company so I decided to combine them into the same ads group despite the company name change in 1990. The Lucasfilm Games division was created through a deal between the Lucasfilm movie company and Atari in 1982. Its first games released in 1985 and none of them were Star Wars games if you can believe that. Star Wars games had been developed before 1985 by other companies, such as Atari's Star Wars arcade game and Parker Brothers' Empire Strikes Back for the 2600. Most of its early games were original properties aside from a game based on Jim Henson's Labyrinth. In 1987 Lucasfilm released Maniac Mansion which was the first in a line of adventure games that used SCUMM (Script Utility Creation for Maniac Mansion), created by Ron Gilbert and Aric Wilmunder.

SCUMM did receive upgrades and redesigns over the following years for the other point-and-click adventure games, such as Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Secret of Monkey Island. In the early '90s all of the original Star Wars trilogy movies had console action games based on them but again, Lucasfilm's games division, which was now LucasArts, was not involved as JVC Musical Industries published most of those games. However, LucasArts did begin making Star Wars games at the same time for home computers and CD-based consoles. The first was Rebel Assault, a movie-like adventure with flight and on-foot action sequences. In the late '80s/early '90s Lucasfilm had developed a few World War II flight simulations and in the '90s took that experience into space.

Two of LucasArts' best and most well-known Star Wars games are Star Wars: X-Wing (1993) and Star Wars: TIE Fighter (1994). Both are space combat simulations that allow players to fly either the X-Wing or TIE Fighter, plus a few other signature Star Wars spaceships. Another Star Wars series was born in the '90s as well, the Jedi Knight games that began with Dark Forces in 1995. It's a first-person shooter series starring a new hero named Kyle Katarn, a mercenary who happens to later discover he is powerful in the Force. Aside from Star Wars, in the '90s LucasArts did develop a couple other Indiana Jones games and more adventures games like Sam & Max, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, and of course sequels to Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island.

However, after the movie division brought Star Wars back to theaters in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, the game group made Star Wars its primary focus with just the occasional non-Star Wars game (Armed and Dangerous, Thrillville, Mercenaries, etc.) popping up every once in a while. The company had significant layoffs in 2008, four years before being acquired by Disney. Unfortunately, Disney shut down the game studios in 2013 which resulted in the cancellation of the in-development Star Wars 1313, and from then on the Lucas name was only used as a publishing brand, mostly on mobile games.

Flickr album: Lucasfilm/LucasArts

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