The Eye-Popping Background Art Of Lucasarts Adventure Games

Like movies and comics, games almost force you to constantly look in the foreground, at the characters and moving parts whizzing past your face. Focus solely on what's in front of you, though, and you'll miss some of a game's best bits: namely, what's in the background.

And few developers' backgrounds were as memorable as those of Lucasarts, the premier adventure game developer of the 1990s. From Fate of Atlantis to Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max to Monkey Island, every screen of Lucasarts' adventure games wasn't simply a way to present puzzles, it was a way to capture the player's imagination.

The company's switch to 3D graphics in the late 90s, with games like Grim Fandango, marked the end of these "cartoony" 2D backgrounds, as textured landscapes took their place.

In the gallery above you'll find a selection of some of my favourite, from the games listed above as well as stuff like The Dig and older Lucasarts titles such as Loom and Maniac Mansion. To see more - we're talking 604 pieces in total - head here.

Oh, and the images are all displayed at their native resolution, which in those days was a lot smaller than 1920x1080. Which explains why they're so damn small. So you won't be able to make wallpapers out of them. Sorry!

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


    Man, I always loved arriving at the Corley Motors building in Full Throttle. Most iconic moment in the game by far. 3D or not, Rubacava in Grim Fandango lived up to the 2D standard of LucasArts beauty. :D

    That truck from Full Throttle!
    My god that truck! :D

    What's the good word little buddy?

      Fine, I'll fill in the next line myself then.

      Max: "Triumverate"

    I feel guilty I never finished Fate of Atlantis. Looking at that art makes me hope LEC will give it a Monkey Island-like Special Edition.

    THE DIG!

    Fate Of Atlantis, such a good game. I want a remake!!

    Absolutely beautiful. They really transported you to these fantastic locations. Even more remarkably, some of them do look like they're in their original res. Simply amazin what they could do with 320x200 and 256 colors!

    This is AWESOME. Thanks!

    So many gorgeous panoramas: pirate shanty towns, tropical islands, historical monuments, Sophia Hapgood's cleavage...

    Oh, I miss good Lucasarts so much...

    Damn it I have the Monkey Island theme stuck in my head.

    Those games were all so easy on the eyes, it's hard to believe that Lucasarts fell so far from those highest of heights. But I guess nobody really makes em like *that* anymore. I still look at some of those old games and think "Wow, that looks really amazing."

    2D graphics have that potential for timelessness as they age... unlike the more-modern 3D Polygon-based graphics.

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