Top 10 Game Publishers of All Time - #3 Lucasarts

Coming in at #3 for top publisher is Lucasarts.

Lucasarts started off as Lucasfilm Games back in 1982 and it’s no surprise that it was founded by George Lucas of Star Wars fame. It wasn’t until 1990 that the name of the company was changed officially to Lucasarts. The earliest game by Lucasfilm/Lucasarts that I played would have to be Maniac Mansion (1987) although that’s actually cheating as I actually played Maniac Mansion whilst playing its sequel, Day of the Tentacle (1993). If you used a Commodore 64 in Day of the Tentacle you were actually able to boot up the original game! So to be fair, my first actual Lucasarts game would have been Loom (1990), a brilliant, musical, fantasy adventure by Brian Moriarty.

Being owned by George Lucas, Lucasarts has obviously published every Star Wars game created after 1982 and there were many good ones over the years. The first Star Wars game I ever played would’ve been the 1993 space sim classic, Star Wars: X-Wing. Developed by Lawrence Holland, who developed the excellent flight sim Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, a couple of years earlier, X-Wing had you flying X-Wings, Y-Wings and A-Wings for the Rebel Alliance. The single-player campaign was quite immersive too as you were able to receive medals and ribbons depending on how well you performed during missions. One of the most memorable moments in the game for me was when I was the only survivor in an escort mission because most of my squad was crazy enough to take on an enemy frigate. Somehow, I was awarded a medal for my bravery after the mission. I had a bit of a laugh about that as you could imagine! The same year, Lucasarts published its first CD-ROM game, the rail-shooter Star Wars: Rebel Assault. While there wasn’t too much freedom gameplay-wise, the video and audio in the game were amazing for the time.

In 1995, Lucasarts released the Doom-clone, Star Wars: Dark Forces. While Doom-clones were starting to become a bit dated, Dark Forces still turned out to be a fun game to play, mainly thanks to its choice protagonist, Kyle Katarn and a great story set in an already well-developed universe (i.e. Star Wars). In 1997, another Star Wars space sim was released known as X-Wing vs TIE Fighter which allowed you to fight as both the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, however it just didn’t have the character of the Star Wars space sims before it.

It wasn’t until 2003 that we finally saw another astounding Star Wars game thanks to critically-acclaimed RPG developer, Bioware. Knights of the Old Republic (2003) is an RPG set thousands of years before the time period in the Star Wars movies. You play the role of a Jedi knight in the game and depending on your actions you can either become a Light or Dark Jedi. The game gave a lot of insight into being a Jedi and offered you many ethical dilemmas to work your way through. Obsidian Entertainment (OE) further blurred the lines between good and evil in the 2004 sequel, Knights of the Old Republic 2. Unfortunately the ending was rather poor thanks to Lucasarts rushing OE to finish the game in less than a year which is a ridiculously short development cycle for a big budget RPG.

The most recent Star Wars game I’ve played was actually released 5-6 years ago and the only reason I really played it was that I was a big fan of Westwood Studios (famous for the Command & Conquer series). Petroglyph, a company formed by many ex-Westwood Studios employees, developed a Star Wars RTS that was released in 2006 known as Star Wars: Empire at War. While the ground combat sequences were so-so, there’s no better game to play if you want to fight epic space battles with ships from the Star Wars universe.

Besides Star Wars, I’ll always remember Lucasarts as the company that released awesome point ‘n’ click adventure games, along with its competitor, Sierra On-Line. Since this article is already becoming too long, I’ll just summarise the memorable Lucasarts adventure games I played:

  • The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) – classic comedy adventure where you play Guybrush Threepwood, wannabe pirate
  • Monkey Island 2 (1991) – Sequel to Monkey Island with a cliffhanger ending
  • Day of the Tentacle (1993) – Sequel to the wacky Maniac Mansion and one of my favourite games of all time
  • Full Throttle (1995) – A bikie gang adventure game set in the near-future
  • Monkey Island 3 (1997) – Probably the best animated Monkey Island game
  • Grim Fandango (1998) – An adventure game where you get to play a grim reaper
  • Monkey Island 4 (2000) – The first Monkey Island game in 3D
  • Tales of Monkey Island (2009) – After a long hiatus, Telltale Games developed 5 episodes of what is basically Monkey Island 5.

Other games that I’ve played which were published by Lucasarts include:

  • Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (1991) – awesome WWII flight sim that allowed you to fly several American and German planes, even the B-17 Flying Fortress!
  • Afterlife (1996) – A very interesting take on SimCity where you zone rewards or punishments for souls in the afterlife

Since Tales of Monkey Island ended with a cliffhanger, it would seem likely that a Monkey Island 6 will be released sometime in the future. Also, even though there are no more Star Wars films, the universe is a rich enough one to continue making games about so I’m not surprised if there will be more Star Wars games being released in the future. George Lucas has to make his money somehow, right?