Turns out I didn't have quite as far to go on Grim Fandango as I thought. I finished it off today and watched Manny and Meche steam away to the 9th underworld (wherever that may be). I ended up playing through the remastered version (it was on sale a few days after I started the original, so I grabbed it), and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. The graphics are slightly touched up, though it's nothing to really write home about, there's also an audio commentary, which was quite fun, but the biggest change by far was that they got rid of the tank controls and replaced them with a more normal point-and-click set up. That made the whole thing a lot easier to play through. Back to the game, though - even though I have played through the game before, there were a lot of parts I didn't remember, and some I remembered completely wrongly (for example, I was convinced that at the end there was a semi-action sequence where you have to shoot the bad guy, but it wasn't like that at all...I must have been thinking of a completely different game). The one thing that really struck me, though, was how hard it was. I was expecting to be able to breeze through the puzzles, but I found myself completely stumped a number of times. There are a lot of things that, by today's standards, seem criminally under-signposted or leaps of logic that seem impossible for your average brain - some of that may just be a result of the modern gamer mindset, but I thought parts were a little unfair. Let's face it, though, Grim Fandango isn't remembered for its puzzles, it's hailed as a classic because every other part of it is polished to perfection. The concept is just wonderful, and totally unique. The story draws you in and keeps you interested in the characters throughout their 4-year journey.The art is a thing of beauty. The voice overs are the best I've ever known in a game - flawless throughout. I can't think of a single voice that doesn't fit the character perfectly. The soundtrack captures the feel of the time and the place to a 'T'. I wouldn't say that there are particularly any stand out tracks that you'd whistle in the shower (well...perhaps one), but the soundscape adds so much to the ambience that it would be a completely different game without it. It's the work of a studio on top of their game, and it's absolutely criminal that it was also one of the last adventure games that studio produced. I'm pleased to say that I did my bit to try and keep them alive by purchasing the game when it first came out, but it just wasn't to be, and adventure games rapidly fell out of fashion as FPS games rose to the fore. I'll be very interested to play Broken Age one day and see how that turned out (it didn't review well, but it was never going to live up to the weight on its shoulders). It's still a fine game, though, and one that I recommend anyone - gamer and non-gamer alike - wander through the first few screens of, just to get a sense of the kinds of worlds of imagination that computer games can produce. The overall ambience (or sekaikan, to use a term I recently discovered!) is just stunning.
Next up on the randometer is...Constructor! Interesting. It's a city-building game with a dose of humour. Quite timely, as I think they're in the process of building a remake, but it's not really the kind of game I wanted to play right now. Ah well, a lot of people have fond memories of it, so I'll see how it goes.