Back when Grim Fandango was first released in 1998, I was just nine years old and all I wanted to do was eat crisps and play Banjo Kazooie. As a result of this, I missed out on Tim Schafer’s much-loved adventure game, and fell in love with Walkers Square Crisps instead.
We currently live, however, in a world full of remasters, where even games from just a few years ago are brought back and remade for another lump of cash. Of course, companies sometimes add in some DLC and make their games look more shiny, but I just can’t see how some remasters are worth the repeated payout. Grim Fandango, however, was different, partly because I’d never got a chance to play it first time around and partly because playing it made me realise just how damn fine a game it is – even if isn’t perfect.
Playing as Manny, the part-time Grim Reaper and full-time smoking skeleton, I learned a few things, some bad, some good:
Modern games can still freeze
It’s not often that I experience games just stopping on me these days, but Grim Fandango Remastered did this on a fair few occasions. One minute I’d be making some sarcastic comment to another fleshless body and the next, Manny would be left frozen on my screen. If the save function on the game were automatic, this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but Grim Fandango Remastered keeps some of the old-school authenticity by making you physically save your game. Perhaps it was my fault for not doing so, but these days you don’t expect games to stop working altogether, especially not PS4 ones. We’ve come to begrudgingly expect glitches, of course – especially from something like Assassin’s Creed Unity – and while those are annoying, nothing beats forgetting to hit the save button, only for your hard work to be lost in one fell swoop. Goodbye progress, hello frustration.
Puzzles can sometimes be too vague
I’m all for working out things for myself in videogames. In fact, I think we’re often spoiled these days by the amount of information we’re given, not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it is fun sometimes to whack on a game that makes you use your noggin. Grim Fandango takes this idea of thinking for yourself to a whole new level – a level that often resulted in me wandering around with no idea what to do next. A prime example of this was in Year Two, when I had to use my ticket printer and forge a betting slip in order to progress.
There were quite a few numerical, race and week options on the ticket printer and I could find no clue as to what I was supposed to enter. This kind of thing happened a few times while I was in the Land of the Dead, with walk-throughs being, I’m somewhat ashamed to say, a tool I had to use many times. I also had to rage quit once, after this and the above problem merged together. I ended up playing Hotline Miami instead, which I used to kill my annoyance away.
We need more games with humour like this
I love videogames that inject some humour into their stories, especially when characters make light of the perils in front of them. It’s why I love Nathan Drake, and it’s why I fell in love with Daxter when I was younger, because they are sarcastic characters who remind me of myself.
Most games, however, don’t have humour running all the way through them, but rather confine it to one or two quirky supporting characters. But Grim Fandango has a whole different approach to humour than most video games – one that incorporates it into the title as a whole.
From cut-scenes to conversations, innuendo and sarcasm is prevalent throughout, and the game refuses to take itself too seriously. As much as I love games that have both a solemn tone and subject matter, Grim Fandango Remastered is a welcome break from all the seriousness that surrounds most current games, and I for one would love to see more games like this on offer – ones that use humour as a major part of the plot theme and not just an afterthought.
You need a good in-game camera
This was a lesson I knew anyway, but Grim Fandango Remastered just reiterated it to me: you need a decent in-game camera, otherwise the angles just aggravate you on a constant basis, sometimes even affecting the gameplay. Thankfully, the camera angle here didn’t affect how I felt about the game too much, but it was questionable at times. This problem mainly occurred when going into another area of a level; the angle suddenly shifts and your direction changes as a result. I often ended up running back where I’d come from because of this, which was at first very annoying.
Thankfully, I usually got used to the different angles when I’d been in a level for a certain amount of time, but once the story progressed and I was in a different year, the whole saga continued again. At least it isn’t like the one in Super Mario 64. Damn, I hate that camera.
Love knows no bounds
When I say love, I don’t mean in the game – I mean the love I developed for Glottis. I know it’s wrong to love a demon, not to mention the fact that he’s a videogame character, but when he started drinking and yelling at cats, I knew then and there that I would forever hold a special place for him in my heart. I’m joking, of course, but Double Fine did manage to make me feel something for the majority of the characters that I met in the game, something that I think is rare these days. Still, if I could marry a videogame character, Glottis would be the one I’d walk down the virtual aisle with. And since people marry dolls, dolphins and roller coasters nowadays, well hell, I might just do it.
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