LucasArts says old adventure games “impossible” on DS, SCUMM says “lolwut?”

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According to associate producer Jeffrey Gullett, porting any of LucasArts’ old genre-defining adventure games to the Nintendo DS is impossible. “The cart size of the DS makes it impossible to put out ports of any of our old graphic adventures,” claims Gullett. “There’s literally not enough room on those carts to put the games out.” The message is clear: LucasArts games on the DS would require both the pixie dust of mystical fairies and the compression technology of a 29th century quantum matrix to squeeze on a DS, and only a fool would say otherwise.

Cue the Internet, a vast legion of scowling Bugg Boys confrontationally holding their SCUMM capable DSes up to their web cams, calling Gullett a butthead. And for good reason: DS cartridge sizes go up to 256MB, and SCUMM has made playing almost all of LucasArts’ adventure games on the DS possible for years. That a console capable of squeezing Super Mario 64 onto a 16MB cartridge wouldn’t be able to match the storage capacity of 4 Amiga floppies is ridiculous. It’s not even that hard to believe that some of LucasArts’ later, beefier adventures, like Grim Fandango, could be compressed down to 256MB.

A lie? The bizarre corporate parsing of some legal problem? Or perhaps an excuse by an exasperated developer to explain the decisions of the brain dead morons in the board room. Probably the latter, if LucasArts’ PR Manager Chris Norris is to be believed: “The decision is taken at a pay grade higher than ours.” The same pay grade responsible for the introduction of an anthropomorphic minstrel horse-thing with Down Syndrome to the Star Wars franchise, no doubt.

Either way, it’s stupid. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is three times the Indiana Jones adventure than was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull… and a perfect opportunity for LucasArts’ to squeeze some more money out of an old game.

Lucasarts could revive graphic adventures [Eurogamer]

Image: Derek Smart

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29 Responses to LucasArts says old adventure games “impossible” on DS, SCUMM says “lolwut?”

  1. Bugs says:

    Perhaps they don’t want to admit that homebrew is rife, but know full well that almost everyone with an interest in these old games is already playing them for free?

    We can already play the early lucasarts games for free on a computer, handheld (definately GP2X, evidently DS and presumably PSP) and any phone based on the Symbian OS. If they released a paid-for version of an old game with dodgy downscaled graphics, how many people would buy it?

    Shooting a hole in my own argument, if a cheapish legal copy became available for a platform I own I probably would buy it. Even if I don’t need it, I’m the honest (read: gullible) type and wouldn’t mind paying retroactively for the hours of fun the ROMs have given me in the past.

  2. yer_maw says:

    nonono, weve had scummvm for ages. Why not throw a bit of money at a NEW game. Surely with the dev costs and the size of the DS market a point and clik game is a no-brainer. But what we will get is the same old games we have all played in SCummVM, and they wont get the sales to greenlight a new project.

    If you build it, they will play.

  3. thegonzalez says:

    I would buy me a DS if it meant I could play Grim Fandango.

  4. Silva says:

    I really don’t understand the space limitation excuse. Big companies are usually moronic when it comes to excuses to rehash games from their past (unless it’s on a zazzy new genre with a whole new bad-ass atitude), but they’ve outdone themselves in this one. Even a GBA cartridge would be enough, I think.

    Oh, and that first ScummVM link needs fixing. And it’s Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis :p

  5. dofnup says:

    That does it, I’m dusting off my copy of Grim Fandango and playing it again. That game was brilliant!!

    Manny Calavera FTW!

  6. Psymiley says:

    I think I get what the fuss is about.

    We who play the ScummVM stuff, all have ‘dev’ (hehe) carts, with 1GB+ storage, costs roughly £30 all in.
    Plays great.
    Personally, I have Sam & Max and DOTT on the same cart, along with all my DS games. 2GB, all games, room to spare.

    A real nintendo dev team is tied to certified stuff, of set constraints – possibly set rules of what is allowed so far as exploiting the hardware.
    Also, whereas the ScummVM system works perfectly fine, LucasArts would still have to write (most likely scratch written in the most) their own DS port.

    So the ‘impossibility’ here is L’Arts restrictions on many levels.

    Or, it was a totally ‘out-there’ statement, to get people talking – which in turn would lead them to people mentioning ScummVM!

    Infact, to jump back a few paragraphs, it was the other week Nintendo or 3rd party affiliate, that announced a ‘download cart’. Practically the same as our carts with a flash card slot, to download DS games from Nintendo! So even Nintendo don’t pretend there’s a fixed limitation on what the DS is able to do.

  7. Peaceflag2007 says:

    I would love to play these games on Wii, searching around the screen.

    “Curse of Monkey Island” is a classic and could be a big hit on that system!

  8. Rajio says:

    Silva is right on every count.

  9. bardfinn says:

    I laughed quite heartily at the “Pay Grade” phrase.

  10. akbar56 says:

    Grim Fandango (IIRC) had lots of pre-rendered movies taking up multiple CDs so I can see some major cuts needed to the game to fit on the DS…however, throw that sucker on the Wii. In fact EVERY oldschool Lucasarts adventure game SHOULD be on the Wii.

  11. John Brownlee says:

    Akbar, Grim Fandango’s a stretch, but compression’s come a long way… Square Enix is putting absolutely huge pre-rendered movies on their DS games, for example. It MIGHT be possible.

  12. Hal says:

    that’s a grievous insult to horses and people with down syndrome

  13. Freddy de la Cruz says:

    We need a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle inside every electronic appliance. And a “Buenos Dias” ringtone FTW!

  14. Anonymous says:

    They can’t port any of the old adventures to the DS because they are not Star Wars. Lucas Arts sales people have no clue how to sell anything other than Star Wars titles any more. BTW, this is the same excuse they gave for abandoning the Sam and Max game, as well as any other non-Star Wars title in the last five years. Lucas Arts needs to get a whole new sales force and executive structure.

  15. Hanglyman says:

    I would buy Fate of Atlantis (or any golden age LucasArts graphic adventure) on any portable system in a heartbeat, and I think there a lot of other people who would, too. I think the reason they won’t do it is the same reason they canceled the Sam and Max: Freelance Police game, and the same reason Square-Enix refuses to release Chrono Trigger for DS or GBA… unfortunately, that reason is completely unfathomable to me. Maybe they just don’t want to make money- after all, the Sam and Max episodes made by former LucasArts employees at Telltale Games seem to be selling very well.

  16. Enochrewt says:

    If GTA4 can be fit onto a dual layer DVD, they can put anything on anything. Even peaunt butter on fried eggs.

  17. TheFirstMan says:

    #17:

    The iPhone and the iPod Touch are also able to play these old games wonderfully. I’m about 1/2 way through Monkey Island.

    There’s no reason not to jailbreak your iPhone/Pod when Day of the Tentacle is waiting for you:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2ZVQ_5tolQ

  18. Bavi_H says:

    SCUMM was LucasArts’ internal utility for creating games (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion). ScummVM is the modern emulator allowing one to play these games.

    Please consider correcting this in the blog post.

  19. License Farm says:

    When are we going to see something along the lines of the Activision classics compilations for LucasArts, Sierra, EGA, Broderbund, etc.? Hell, I don’t care what system it’d be released for; just demonstrate the gumption to put it out! How much is it gonna cost you? The games are already written! Surely if they’re not available commercially they’ll be pirated sooner or later, if they aren’t already.

    Brownlee: an anthropomorphic minstrel horse-thing with Down Syndrome to the Star Wars franchise

    Exquisite. Come to think of it, why is Lucas wasting time with the Clone Wars animation? There’s already been one of those. I want to see a Shadows of the Empire movie! Hey, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher aren’t too busy…

  20. Silva says:

    It’s not only compression that has evolved: the Grim Fandango resources (mostly videos and background bitmaps) could be downsampled for the DS 256×192 screen(s), which would reduce the size even more. I doubt the console can output crystal-clear audio, too, so perhaps they could also be downsampled a bit without harming the experience. I’m not 100% sure if it would fit on 512MB, but it would surely be a lot smaller than 2 CDs

  21. artbot says:

    I can only guess that there are myriad restrictive platform license deals in place that prevent them from doing this. If there’s one thing LEC has always excelled at, it’s re-packaging old games into new releases. I’d love to see the Monkey Island games, and even more, Full Throttle (and not just because I worked on it!) on the DS.

    And the “pay grade” comment is gold. People always ask me what it was like working there in the early/mid 90s, and now I can just say, “It really went downhill when employees started using phrases like “pay grade” to deflect blame.

  22. Seg says:

    @AKBAR56

    Yes, it’s not the original Hit the Road, but Sam & Max Season One will be hitting the Wii in August. Don’t believe me? Here’s me playing it as proof!

  23. akbar56 says:

    Oh Seg, I am aware of that one. I already have all the PC versions of that and have planned on getting the Wii version as well.

  24. stratosfyr says:

    It’s Lucas. He says, “No, no, it’ll never come out.” Then a year later it comes out with fancy-pants new graphics. He says, “This is the definitive, final version.” Then a year after that, it comes out without new graphics. Then it comes out in a platinum box set.

  25. subtlesquid says:

    Very large or otherwise extra featured DS carts are prohibitively expensive for third party developers. If Nintendo lowered their per cart/per feature fees this would be a much more feasible commercial venture. There would still be the matter of needing to repixel all the artwork to fit the DS screen. Simply down-sampling the images would not match any company’s standards for quality.

  26. mdhatter says:

    “Simply down-sampling the images would not match any company’s standards for quality.”

    Game quality? Or customer blow-off quality?

    B/c that is a pretty low-quality blow-off of their most devoted customers.

  27. subtlesquid says:

    Simply down sampling the images would result in fuzzy, artifact laden images. Employing artists to clean up the down sampled images or rework them to fit the smaller screen would be necessary polish.

    Paying Nintendo for their largest available cart is a much bigger roadblock I’m sure, as that would significantly reduce their profit margin on every cart sold. Meaning, they would have to be pretty sure of some very large sales numbers before considering the release. When they say “There’s literally not enough room on those carts,” what they mean is on those cart they are willing to pay for.

    just because it is feasible technically doesn’t make it a good move fiscally.

  28. Bloo says:

    1. When you consider the graphics capabilities of some of the much-older games, the DS won’t have any problems.

    2. Not to diminish the adventure games, but LucasArts had a game called “Ball Blazer” on Atari home computers that is a natural for the DS, because it split the screen horizontally to show you two different views; the first of its kind to do so in my experience anyway and a natural for the two-screen DS.

  29. Anonymous says:

    peanut butter on fried eggs! you got my pantsies in a fancy!

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