Fun Tim Schafer-Related Things

18 Aug
Guybrush Threepwood

"My name is Guybrush Threepwood, and I want to be a pirate."

Game designer/writer Tim Schafer is enjoying a bit of a “That Hansel” moment these days – along with the re-release of his point and click adventure game classic “The Secret of Monkey Island” and the impending release of his seventh original IP, the Jack Black starring “Brutal Legend,” he’s already in the press quite a bit.

There’s more to it, however, but I know that a lot of y’all have no idea who the guy is, so let me explain him a little.  He’s, like, the Wes Anderson of games, or maybe the Robert Altman… he’s the closest thing that the world of gaming has to a true auteur.  Since he started making games for Lucasarts 20 years ago, he’s made only seven original games, but every single one of which is an incredibly polished gem of comedy, heart, and beautiful design.  From the Monkey Island pirates who swordfight with insults and witty retorts instead of their blades (“You Fight Like A Dairy Farmer!”  “How appropriate.  You fight like a cow.”) to a Dia de los Muertos- influenced tour through the afterlife, complete with beatnik accouterments and a killing jazz score (this would be the one and only Grim Fandango, possibly my favorite game ever made), Schafer’s games are far, FAR more than what people think of when they think of “video games.”

So, it was pretty dang cool when they re-released “Monkey Island,” on the iPhone!  It was actually released on a bunch of platforms, but the iPhone was the one that I have, so I got it there. From my trip to Minnesota until now, I’ve played it off and on, moving at a pretty rapid clip, since I already know how to solve the puzzles.  *Use* “chicken with a pulley in the middle” on “hanging cord.”

Guybrush and Elane Never Pay More Than 20 Bucks

"This experience has taught me something, Elaine."

After I negotiated the game to its classic conclusion (“Never pay more than 20 bucks on a computer game”), the credits rolled.  This re-released version was created by a new team and featured updated graphics and, even cooler, re-recorded audio.  The songs from the first one are, like, burned onto my eardrums (I know I’m supposed to be this jazz snob, but when I was 12, I would listen to the soundtrack to that game on my CD player over and over), so hearing new versions of the old MIDI tunes, performed by actual musicians, was really fun.

And the coolest thing of all was that, as I watched the credits roll, the contributing musicians rolled by, and I saw that Mike Olmos played all the trumpet parts!  Amazing!  Mike’s a player in the city that I know a little bit – he’s totally great, plays all over the place, runs the monday jam session at Grant and Green, plays with a bunch of Jazz Mafia bands, the CJO, etc.  I guess it shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise that, since they’re based here, Lucasarts would get San Francisco based musicians to play on their stuff, but all the same, I couldn’t get over how cool that was.  Mike got to play on the soundtrack to Monkey Island! My god, I might be the only musician in San Francisco who thinks it, but that just may be the Coolest. Gig. Ever.


Seriously. Put this on a t-shirt, and it will suffice.

I heard that they’re going to also re-release Tim’s other games, and if they do, and someone who works on the games is out there, I will SO play on the soundtracks.  Flute, clarinet, saxophone, just say the word.  I’ll kill it, and I’ll do it for cheap.  Just give me, like, a Grim Fandango T-Shirt and a couple hundred bucks.

So, onward and upward for Tim Schafer.  His new game is a heavy-metal-themed brawler starring Jack Black, and I think it’s going to be, well, just as amazing as all of Scafer’s other games.  It will, at the very least, be hilariously funny, and feature a truly epic soundtrack. The complete track list actually just got leaked, then confirmed, and it is amazing. Anvil, Mastodon, Dokken and even Deathklok… plus lots of Sabbath and Judas Priest, naturally.  Some way or another, I’m gonna have to find a way to check this one out.

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