Dork Shelf Presents
An Ode to LucasArts

Many speculated that LucasArts’ days were numbered when Disney had acquired Lucasfilm last fall to the tune of some $4 billion. When the news broke that the game publishing arm would be dissolved and shift to a licensing model, game lovers around the world waxed nostalgic about their favourite LucasArts titles of the past.

We’ve decided to do the same. Here are some of the best memories from a few of Dork Shelf’s game contributors. Share yours in the comments below!

Star-Wars-Dark-Forces-II-Jedi-Knight

It would be almost impossible to sum up a game so integral to my gaming adolescence (and my meatspace teen years to boot) in just a few paragraphs. But, damn it, in light of the recent LucasArts news I’ve got to try.

Star Wars Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight — the 1997 sequel to the oft-forgotten Star Wars-set Doom clone Dark Forces — was essentially the video game dream of any kid who’d been weaned on that famous trilogy from a galaxy far, far away. It was the first 3D game that let you wield a lightsaber and become a Jedi Knight. The PC first-person/third-person shooter (you could switch perspectives) put players in the role Kyle Katarn, a morally grey mercenary with rebel leanings and a sensitivity to the Force. He was basically Han Solo with a lightsaber.

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Jedi Knight’s frantic lightsaber battles, wide array of Force powers, exotic levels and baddies, the charmingly hokey live-action cutscenes, and the branching story with multiple endings made it more than just a run-of-the-mill shooter (something gamers were definitely not lacking in the late 1990s). If you were sporting the latest video card — or 3D card, as they were called back then — the game also looked extremely nice. With a 4 megabyte 3D card (!) in your PC, the Star Wars universe absolutely came alive in Jedi Knight – the dark corners of Nar Shaddaa had never looked so good!

While the single-player story initially attracted me, my friends and I ended up sticking with Jedi Knight’s multiplayer for years after the game’s release. I played JK competitively on Microsoft’s dearly departed Internet Gaming Zone from 1997 until 2002 — when the Raven Software-developed sequel Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast was released. As good as the Raven game was, nothing could top the game that I’d spent most of my high school years playing. – Will Perkins

Yoda-Stories

 

Despite the fact that both Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures and Star Wars: Yoda Stories came out before I’d even reached double-digits, I remember playing these Windows 3.x adventure games endlessly on my very first laptop.

In fact, it was while playing these old-school LucasArts titles that I first realized the true joy in games: their ability to transport you to another world and let you become a different person. Suddenly, I was Indy, and I could whip-kill a snake better than anybody else I knew.

Yoda Stories was also the first game to teach me the value of frequent saving; I had just graduated to a green lightsaber, when my old Acer crashed hard and I was all the way back to using blue again (devastating). And for the sake of total honesty, I should tell you – I totally still own Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures. Now, if only I could find a floppy drive… – Sam Maggs

Star-Wars-Rebel-Assault

With apologies to Shadows of the Empire, my favorite LucasArts game has to be Star Wars: Rebel Assault, if only because it was largely responsible for the Star Wars obsession that would define much of my adolescence.

There was something strangely empathetic about playing through an entire video game as someone other than the hero – Luke & co. were usually present as intergalactic celebrities rather than characters – and witnessing events as a random grunt swept up in a larger struggle helped transform the original movie trilogy into a living, breathing work of fiction.

Thanks to Rebel Assault, the Star Wars universe was no longer the exclusive playground of Lando and Chewie and Han. It was a world with everyday people doing everyday jobs, provided that those jobs involved acts of domestic terrorism against the dominant political body. – Eric Weiss

When I was around 7, my dad installed Day of the Tentacle on our family PC without telling me or my brother.

To this day, I’m not sure why or when he bought it — he wasn’t much of a gamer — all I know is that I found the game box sitting on the computer chair and was immediately enthralled by its strange artwork. I sat down, booted DOS, launched the game and was hooked immediately.

From that day forth, I was as rabid a LucasArts fan as the titular Purple Tentacle was at enslaving the human race. I even remember doodling the iconic company logo in my school notebooks. It was only a matter of time and pocket savings before my collection was full of classics like Sam & Max Hit The Road, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Dig, Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series.

But it all started with three goofy teenagers, a mentally unstable family and a pair of coloured monsters – and of course, a time-travelling toilet. — Alex Hayter

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was easily the highlight of the Nintendo GameCube launch lineup in 2001 (sorry, Batman: Vengeance. You were terrible). The first time I loaded up the Battle of Endor mission and found myself facing a cloud of literally hundreds of TIE Fighters racing towards you, was the first time that console generation’s power really blew me away. I spent hours playing and re-playing every mission to get the coveted Gold Medal ratings and never got bored.

Every ship felt different. Bombing a hidden Empire base with the Y-wing handled nothing like a light A-wing on a mindless suicide run towards a Star Destroyer. Your ship’s functions were a perfect introduction to the somewhat unusual GameCube controller.

The score, sound effects and voice-overs replicated the classic Star Wars feel. TIE Fighters blew apart into a ball of fire, shattering into tiny shards with a *crunch* not unlike that of a Tostitos multigrain scoop. In other words, everything just felt right.

The impressive depth of the main missions was bolstered by secret missions that allowed you to man the Millennium Falcon’s laser turret, or even turn the tides and lay waste to the rebels with cluster bombs in Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced. It was a dream for a Star Wars game before the prequels finished their near-complete destruction to the mythos. – Jonathan Ore

I was obscenely late to The Secret of Monkey Island party. But I’d like to think my love of slinging bovine insults, Guybrush Threepwood’s endearingly hapless pursuits and Stan’s flailing arms is just as strong as someone’s who grew up with the game.

I had the misfortune of never having played LucasArts games as a little kid. I wanted to rectify this wrong as a big kid. When the Special Edition was released in 2009, and after hearing my friend Ryan go on about his unabashed love for Monkey Island, I knew what I had to do.

When at last I delved into the absurd humour and imaginative world of Monkey Island, I quickly learned what I’d been missing all these years. I’ll never forget the moment when Guybrush was caught underwater, weighed down by the Idol of Many Hands, an abundant array of sharp objects teasingly out of reach, and it took five seconds for me to decide, “Why don’t I just… pick up the Idol?”

Yes, The Secret of Monkey Island did, and still does, drive home the principle of Occam’s razor.

It’s a testament to the long-lasting power of a 20-year-old LucasArts game and the creative genius of Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman. Hell, the mere mention of Monkey Island stirs in me an unknown, deep-seeded desire to be a mighty pirate.

To that, LucasArts, I raise this slowly disintegrating stein of Grog. Grog!!! – Emily Claire Afan

What was your favourite LucasArts game or memory? Sound off in the comments below or send a tweet to @DorkShelf.

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