Grim Fandango is finally being re-released tomorrow after being stuck on CDs since its October 1998 launch. Never available for console or digital download, many thought the cult classic would remain a rare collector's item for adventure game enthusiasts. When a special edition of LucasArts' arguably best-known adventure, The Secret of Monkey Island, came out in the summer of 2009, it led many to believe that Grim Fandango would follow. Yet years went by without so much as a whisper of a re-release. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm on Grim Fandango's 14th anniversary in 2012, many thought it was a lost cause. Disney is notorious for its family-friendly fare, so a tale of crime and corruption with liberal use of drinking, smoking and sexual innuendo didn't exactly fit the house of mouse's modus operandi.
It's only fitting that Grim Fandango takes place in the Land of the Dead, because in hindsight it represents something of a eulogy for the declining adventure genre. LucasArts' penultimate adventure game (its swansong was the anticlimactic Escape From Monkey Island) may well be its best. It helped cement director Tim Schafer as something of a superstar, prone to appear on late-night talk shows and host awards ceremonies despite Grim Fandango and his biggest games (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend) being commercial failures. Before we were all swayed by open worlds, 3D combat, and an influx of shooters, Grim Fandango proved that there's still some life left in those dusty bones.
Tomorrow, Double Fine Productions CEO Tim Schafer will deliver a keynote presentation to the Develop Conference in Brighton. He's set to discuss the studio's ten year anniversary, presumably with reference to hit titles Psychonauts and Brutal Legends.