I still have the PC version of this game sadly gathering dust somewhere in my room back at my grandparents house. It was purchased in a local GAME shop, along with 2 Broken Sword games. Part of a 3 for £10 offer. I remember the excitement of finally owning a copy of a game I had only heard of in hushed circles in video game shops. One GAME worker told me it was the most frustrating game he had ever played. Another told me he had never finished it due to the complex puzzles. “Whatever. I thought. I beat Secret of Monkey Island! How hard can it be?” Oh boy …
I got stuck in the Petrified Forest…
DON’T MOCK! This was before our home had decent Internet, it was the dark times of dial up. Wiki or Google it if you’re too young to remember! I had to try and print off walkthroughs via my colleges computers without getting caught. Saying it was for a project only worked a couple of times.
Anyway, flash forward to E3 2014. Lots of nods towards some decent looking games. Screaming at the odd one I REALLY liked the look of. The part I screamed loudest at was the announcement of Grim Fandango Remastered! My poor fiancé had to cover his ears. It was like the time Tom Cruise was on Oprah’s show declaring his love for Katie Holmes. Loudly.
So as soon as end of January came around, I quickly downloaded Grim Fandango for my PlayStation Vita and got a copy for my future PlayStation 4. Seeing it load for the first time was incredible. I had not played this game in over 10 years, it was very emotional. Hearing Manny’s smooth as silk voice again for the first time in so long gave me goosebumps.
“Intimidating? Me? But I’m your friend. My name is Manny Calavera.
I’m your new travel agent.”
If you have never played Grim Fandango before, Manny Calavera is the game’s protagonist. He works as a travel agent (Grim Reaper) for the Department of Death. Manny goes out to the Land of the Living to reap souls and looks for travel packages for them to get to the Ninth Underworld. Unfortunately, poor old Manny is not the top salesman he once was. Getting “deadbeat” clients because his coworker, Domino Hurley, seems to suspiciously get all the good leads and gets bullied daily by his boss, Don Copal. No premium clients for poor Manny.
This time on the Day of the Dead (a holiday where family and friends pray for and remember those who have died), Manny decides he has had enough and steals a top premium client from Domino. And that client is Mercedes “Meche” Colomar. A saint in her human life, she is the ticket Manny needs! But oh dear, no one told Manny that stealing is wrong. Even in the afterlife!
Grim Fandango is basically a point and click adventure like the Monkey Island and Broken Sword series. You cant die, even though Manny is already dead, so there is no need to worry. The game takes place over 4 years but you cant advance until you have completed all the puzzles for the year. So sorry, no skipping ahead! Some of the puzzles do make you want to pull your hair out. But the charm of the game makes up for it.
Control is easy to handle via the PSVita and PlayStation 4. Tank controls, like the ones used in games such as zombie horror Resident Evil, have been thrown into the remastered game. I myself haven’t tried them, but I have heard they can be challenging and also you can unlock a trophy if you manage to complete the game using them. Tim Schafer, you mad man!
The inventory screen is Manny’s jacket and he pulls each item out in turn, but you cant combine any items together in the screen. Remember, bread crumbs and cat balloons are a good combo against skull pigeons …
The soundtrack is just beautiful. It has a nice mixture of jazz, swing and orchestra. You cant help but tap your feet and bop along. In Year One outside the DOD there is a Day of the Dead parade and it has lovely, upbeat Spanish music playing, but sadly you cant go and investigate. I just sat and hummed along to it for about 10 minutes while Manny smoked his cigarettes.
What I love about Manny is not only does he speak in English, but also Spanish. Hearing him come out with “Que trae!”, “Whatever you say, jefe”, ” No thanks to dead-end, no commission, low life cases like yours, menso”, etc gives the game more depth and something different. Also Manny means “skull” in Spanish! Who said video games never taught you anything?
The games certainly has Schafer’s quick wit and amazing sense of humour. Getting abuse off a big butted pink demon with a Russian accent is something you wont experience anywhere else! Probably in the darkest, deepest parts of the Internet maybe? I don’t wanna know.
If you love your point and click adventures but sadly missed playing Grim Fandango the first time round, then you have no excuse now. Play it at home or on the move with your Vita, it certainly is worth the money for a remastered classic like this one.