The adventure game genre has been around for decades. It was at one point the most popular genre in gaming, way back before action and FPS games crowded the scene. While it still remains strong, many consider the classic and golden era to be set firmly in the past.
Years later, we are now seeing these older adventure games come back. Enough time has passed for the developers to reassess their creations, consider improvements and bring their work to new platforms that weren’t around in their day.
These adventure games that have either been remastered or simply rereleased, ready to be enjoyed by gamers old and new.
These are a selection of adventures that have been significantly altered in some way for their modern release – whether it’s brand new sections added to the game, revamped art or the addition of voice acting.
The Monkey Island series is widely considered to contain some of the greatest adventure games of all time. The first, The Secret of Monkey Island, was launched back in 1990 and went on to spawn four sequels (the fifth installment coming nine years after its predecessor) developed and published by LucasArts.
Players took control of the weirdly named Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who traversed the Caribbean in his attempt to become a pirate. Of course, hijinks ensue along the way as Guybrush battles with an evil ghost, a lovely governor and a village of cannibals.
For years LucasArts was silent on the franchise, until 2009 when it surprised fans by announcing the Special Edition. This remake of the classic game introduced a completely revamped art style, voice acting and an orchestral soundtrack. Players can even switch back and forth between the original and the remake on-the-fly, offering the best of both worlds.
The Special Edition was so well received that the sequel, LeChuck’s Revenge, received the same treatment a year later. As an additional bonus, the original designers, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman, all got together and recorded audio commentary, accessible in particular locations during the game.
Back in 1987, middle-aged virgin Larry Laffer came onto the scene courtesy of Sierra. The game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, had the titular software seller travel to Lost Wages (see if you can figure out what famous American city that parodies) in order to seek a mate.
Sierra were a bit weary of how the game was going to be received due to the adult content, effectively releasing the game with no buzz at all. Although it’s considered tamer by today’s standards, some stores actually refused to stock it. Nevertheless, the game soon became a classic.
Fast forward to 2012 and Kickstarter is all the rage. Al Lowe, the original designer of the games, pitches his remaster of the game and manages to raise over $650,000 towards the cause. Of the initial stream of Kickstarted adventure games, Leisure Suit Larry was one of the first to release.
Not content with just updating the graphics and voicing the characters, the developers went back and added some new puzzles and altered ones which they thought didn’t stand up. There were six original Larry games that Al Lowe worked on, but it’s not known if any of the others will get their own remastering.
For Broken Sword fans, the line “Paris in the Fall” will bring back fond memories. The first four words uttered by protagonist George Stobbart, it introduces a calm that is very quickly broken with a literal bang. Having recently released a fifth installment thanks to Kickstarter, the Broken Sword series began originally back in 1996 with The Shadow of the Templars (also known as Circle of Blood).
Inspired by history and legend, Broken Sword manages a perfect blend of intrigue, suspense and humour. It offers an engrossing story wrapped in a globe-trotting adventure, dishing up wonderfully atmospheric environments, superb voice acting and memorable music.
Remastered versions of the first two Broken Sword games were released over a period of some years. These director’s cut versions offered up additional gameplay, new character artwork during conversations, and an adjusted interface and control scheme depending on the platform.
The original games sold around a million copies when they were first published in 1996 and 1997. The remastered versions also performed extremely well for developer Revolution Software, eventually leading to the aforementioned crowd funding campaign that raised nearly double the $400,000 pitch.
Writer and developer Jane Jensen is a big name in the adventure game world, but Gabriel Knight is probably her masterpiece. The titular character may be a struggling author, but that doesn’t stop him being capable of investigating the strange murders that have been taking place.
While the majority of classic adventure games tended to focus on comedy, Gabriel Knight was more interested in offering suspense, thrills and horror. Danger is around every corner, pulling you in deeper to this gripping detective thriller.
This year the game received a full makeover. Perhaps most obvious and striking is the overhaul from pixelated 2D art to modern 3D graphics. Nevertheless, the spirit of the original is still contained within the polygons. New puzzles, dialogue and a streamlined interface were also added for this anniversary edition.
While some hardcore fans retain that you should stick to the original, there’s no doubting that this remake opened Gabriel Knight up to a new group of gamers who might have never considered playing it before. After all, isn’t that what a good remake should do?
Platforms like iOS and Android didn’t exist back in the golden age of adventure games, which means that developers can return decades later and rerelease their titles in an attempt to find a new audience. These are adventures that might not have changed much, but still stand up to the test of time.
Simon is a relatively normal guy, but he finds himself transported to a fantastical world full of goblins, giants and swamp creatures. Simon is tasked with rescuing the wizard Calypso from the evil Sordid, which he begrudgingly uptakes if it means he can get home.
Chock full of fantasy references and British humour (Simon is probably the most sarcastic adventure game lead there is), this 1993 title is hilarious, beautiful and superbly voice acted. The second installment was released two years later and is equally as good, if not more so, as the first.
Both the first and second games were ported onto iOS and Android, featuring an interface adjusted especially for touch screens and the ability to select the format the music plays in (like MT-32 or Midi). Those who want the original experience can have that too, enabling the original pointer controls and disabling the upscaled visuals.
There are five games in the Simon the Sorcerer series, with a sixth currently in development by a small indie studio. The first two are considered the pinnacle of the set and rank up there with some of the best adventure games of all time.
Although strictly an action-adventure, this game (which was also known by Relentless: Twinsen’s Adventure in some territories) still holds firm to aspects of the genre in its name: an emphasis on narrative, exploration and puzzle solving. It requires more dexterity than some of the traditional point-and-click fare, but it’s well worth going outside your comfort zone to experience the wonders within.
Twinsen lives on Citadel Island and has been having weird dreams about his planet being destroyed. The dictator Dr. FunFrock refuses to stand for such dreams and locks our hero away. Not one to be taken capture lightly, Twinsen escapes and begins to discover who he truly is and his destiny. The game is full of funny characters and expansive locales and was well received back in 1994.
DotEmu have rereleased Little Big Adventure for mobile platforms, but not entirely without new features. In fact, there is now an automatic save system, dynamic hint system and improved controls suitable for touch interfaces.
A sequel followed in 1997 and is considered to be even better than its predecessor, which is a pretty grand feat. At the moment there is no mobile release for Little Big Adventure 2, but such a move isn’t unlikely for the future.
The Adventure Awaits
If you missed out on any of these adventure games when they first released, then you’re definitely in for a treat. Within these games are expansive worlds, full of intriguing characters and mind-bending puzzles to solve. Adventure games may be slower-paced than more modern choices, but they’ll reward you with a connection to the story that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
Those who played them originally can rediscover old friends, while a newer audience can have the joy of experiencing these treats for the first time. Now that a lot of them have had a facelift, they don’t look the 20-odd years old that they truly are!
Have you played any of the adventure games we’ve listed above? Do you have a favourite that has been remastered or rereleased for new platforms that we’ve missed out?