Manual and box already catch the eye of the mystery fan, as – using a lot of dark colours – they summon up a story of magicians in parallel worlds, about magical portals and about a hub called Nietoom. The aura of the phantastic genre is there. The manual also helps understanding the game's starting screen. You find yourself in the bedroom of your late grandfather who, until his death, researched the location of this portal of worlds. The room is shown with a crooked horizon line and the player's avatar is actually nowhere to be seen. Maybe the now missing grandfather is supposed to be symbolic for a world in turmoil. In order to leave the room and to really start your task, you have to – as described in the manual – search the side of the screen until you find a door in the back of the viewpoint. It is only in the next room – the upper staircase of the mansion – that you can actually take a look at the protagonist: a youthful figure neatly dressed in a kind of dressing gown, sporting full, perfectly groomed hair. Though is this prissy grandson the character a Lucas Arts afficionado would like to identify with?
For a long time I thought of Grim Fandango as the ‘LucasArts game with the skeletons’, whose appeal was a total mystery to me. Maybe it was because back then, when the game was released, I had been somewhat over-saturated (like many others) by countless adventure games. Also they started copying each other more and more and most of the time provided some awfully boring ideas. Still a game, in which you slip into the role of a bony man, seemed just too silly. In the meantime adventure games are returning again and LucasArts finally closed its gates. So after fifteen years I decided to fill a gap in my knowledge.
In the Early Days™, computer games were still very much influenced by arcade games. Half of that is true for Lode Runner. The gameplay concerns a small figure running across platforms which are connected through ladders. It is collecting treasures while avoiding contact with the bad guys (the Bungelings). This sort of thing would work very well in an arcade environment.
What distinguishes this game from most others at the time is its size: There are so many levels, it just goes on and on and on and on. This is something which was commonly achieved at the time by looping the game around, i.e. simply repeating the already finished levels on a higher speed setting, for example. This game is different: The levels are all hand-made and very few people will ever have seen them all!