Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Lucas Arts truly managed to set themselves apart from other adventure game companies like Sierra Online and Infocom.
Thanks to the work Ron Gilbert and the team put into their SCUMM engine, they were able to go from linear text-based adventure game input to a more robust pointer-based system with keywords for interacting with the environment, objects, and actors.
On top of their parent companies association with movie blockbusters, their expertise in art direction, animation, music, writing, and witty humor took the simpler format of adventure gameplay to the next level.
Here are 5 of my favorite Lucas Arts adventure games from the early 90s pixel art era that I can still appreciate and play to this day.
Download your favorite platforms version of SCUMMVM and lets hop on down this classic PC gaming rabbit hole.
5. Maniac Mansion (1987)
While Maniac Mansion is the earliest example of Lucas Arts’ adventure game catalog, it is definitely the most pivotal.
The SCUMM acronym actually stands for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion and the foundation of this single engine would ripple through the rest of the games they’d make over the next decade.
Maniac Mansion sets the tone with it’s whacky humor and elaborate non-linear puzzle sequences as you select a team of people to explore a mansion to rescue your kidnapped girlfriend.
While I originally played this on the Apple II and NES versions, I have provided the enhanced DOS version for a higher quality experience.
4. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
After the success of their Last Crusade point and click adventure game the Lucas Arts team was allowed to take more creative liberties with an original story and most importantly, with no movie deadline looming over their backs.
Fate of Atlantis features a fantastic storyline addition to the Indiana Jones lore, with memorable characters and some great voice acting that still holds up to this day.
3. Day of the Tentacle (1993)
After Ron Gilbert’s departure from Lucas Arts in 1992, Tim Schaffer picked up the mantle for Maniac Mansion’s sequel and brought us Day of the Tentacle.
This highly regarded point and click was lauded for it’s cartoonish visuals and well acted voice overs through out the game.
It continues on Maniac Mansion’s concept of swapping the active player at any given moment, but with a time travel twist that further spices up the gameplay.
2. Sam & Max: Hit The Road (1993)
After a string of hits in the early 90’s, Lucas Arts artist Steve Purcell was allowed to take his comic book brain child Sam & Max and turn it into a full blown adventure game.
This comedy infused cartoon classic has you playing as the titular vigilante duo, solving crimes and puzzles while driving across the continental US as freelance police.
The game would later be made into a Saturday morning cartoon show and then rebooted by Telltale Games as part of an episodic game storyline.
1. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
After the positive reviews and decent sales they received from The Secret of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert and team were given the green light for a sequel.
Monkey Island 2 was in my opinion more polished in every aspect. With a more hand drawn pixel art style for backgrounds, better animation and an innovative music system that subtly adjusted layers and tones were used as you moved through various areas.
The entire soundtrack is a masterful use of the Roland MT32 instruments capabilities and still shines to this day as a chiptune classic.