LucasArts is poised to deliver a one-two ... err, three punch for classic gaming fans, beginning with tomorrow's PC release of the first chapter of Tales of Monkey Island, titled "Launch of the Screaming Narwhal." Today, LucasArts announced not only the release date for Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition – it's next week, on July 15th – but also the availability of ten LucasArts classics from the back-catalog, to be made available on Steam this Wednesday, July 8! We spoke with LucasArts CEO Darrell Rodriguez, who told us that this is "a passion project" for him as well as his team. "This is the first time these titles have ever been on digital distribution, and it's something we're all very excited about," he told us this morning. "And this is just the beginning."
That "beginning" includes ten titles from the LucasArts vaults, including adventure gaming classics like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, LOOM, and The Dig. Also included in this first batch of games are Armed and Dangerous, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventure, Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars Republic Commando, Star Wars Starfighter, and Thrillville: Off the Rails. The press release calls this the "first round of releases" and Rodriguez promises us they've got more in store, including "some bundles that offer some extra value." Those bundles are Steam-only for now, though; a retail package is "something to definitely consider" Rodriguez tells us, though LucasArts has "no plans for them right now."
"We have the plans in our back pocket and if things go extremely well, we'll roll out those plans and put them into action."
When asked about the possibility of portable ports, notably the iPhone or PSP Go, Rodriguez noted, "On iPhone, you know Apple's policy that we can't talk about a release until it's ready to release. But it would make sense that we would do something like that if we were to go in that direction ... wink wink, nod, nod." As for PSP Go, he told us, "We've seen it and we're definitely investigating PSP Go. We've got our Singapore office, which does the majority of our handheld titles, and they're playing with it right now, seeing what we can do."
For LucasArts, this represents a radical shift in tone from the company that (in)famously canceled development of Sam & Max: Freelance Police just five years ago, before laying off the entire adventure gaming development team. Many of those expats regrouped under the new banner of Telltale Games ... the very same Telltale Games that's currently kicking off the next ten days of LucasArts adventure gaming with Tales of Monkey Island. Rodriguez told us, "I'm a huge fan of Grim Fandango and Maniac Mansion and all the old adventure titles, and it's definitely something that's part of our heritage." By the looks of things, that's not just lip service.