Scumm, All Ye Faithful

By Alec Meer on March 7th, 2009 at 3:58 pm.

Have we written about the august ScummVM before? I rather believe we haven’t. What cads we are- it’s the lash for us tonight, lads. As the tireless folk behind it have just released version 0.13.0, now seems as good a time as any to mention this wonderful application. It’s more than likely you’re already familiar with this indispensable (and free) tool of retro PC gaming, but just in case not I’ll bang out a quick summary before talking about the new version.

ScummVM, y’see, is a freeware project designed predominantly to make the classic LucasArts adventure games run all slick’n'nice on modern PCs’ new-fangled hardware and operating systems. That’s Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Full Throttle et al. Woo!

That initial goal was pretty much achieved some time ago, so since then the project’s expanded to encompass other games of the time and genre from other studios, such as Beneath A Steel Sky, Broken Sword, Gobliiins and Simon The Sorcerer. It also has some fancy-doodle rendering to run the games at high resolutions, and add some interface gubbins we’ve grown accustomed to most games having in the last few years. It’s not an emulator for DOS games – it’s an engine designed to run specific games as flawlessly as possible. You’ll need to provide those games’ files yourself, of course.

V0.13.0 includes some GUI rethinks, the much-needed option to pop back to ScummVM’s main menu from a running game, and also support for, er, Blue’s 123 Time Activities and Blue’s ABC Time Activities. Rather more notably, ancient horror adventure (and CD-ROM gaming landmark) The Seventh Guest. It’ll certainly be fascinating to see how that old frightener stands up after all these years.

Grab ScummVM from here, and if you like it bung the good chaps behind it a donation. There are also various lovely ports for PDAs, phones and, if you’ve no stranger to the world of jailbreaking closed systems, the PSP, DS and iPhone. I’m especially fond of the latter version. Also, thanks to kindly developers/publishers, a few of the supported games are available for free, legal download – notably Beneath A Steel Sky (illustrated by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, donchaknow) and Flight of the Amazon Queen. INTERNET, YOU ARE SO KIND.

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52 Comments »

  1. The Hammer says:

    Long time fan of ScummVM here. It’s got a lovely interface and is very stress-free. It’s a shame they haven’t been able to get support for Discworld up there yet, though.

  2. dadioflex says:

    7th Guest was great at the time but nowadays… The video still works but the “Puzzles” are rudimentary.

    Interesting to see RPS advocating wholesale piracy of games which are no longer for sale. I approve to the extent that many games are no longer sold, so they are fair game, but a lot of those SCUMM games are still for sale.

    Mainly just curious about the irony.

  3. Alec Meer says:

    Um. No we didn’t, you weirdo.

  4. bananaphone says:

    @dadioflex
    Where exactly in that article do they advocate piracy?

  5. cowthief skank says:

    Oh dear.

  6. Nick says:

    ScummVM is like DosBox in that it simply enables older games to work without hassle – it doesn’t have anything to do with piracy.

  7. Tworak says:

    At least they didn’t advocate RENTING games which is worse than piracy.

  8. skizelo says:

    I distinctly remeber Rossignol waking me up last night at around 4 A.M. and calling me a sap for buying Burnout Paradise. “It’s basically free, you chump. Now EA just using that money to kill children”.
    DENY IT IF YOU CAN.

  9. Dolphan says:

    So me using this to run my old budget-deal copy of Sam and Max would be piracy? That’s a new one. Sigh.

    Beneath a Steel Sky is utterly fantastic – if you haven’t played it and don’t have an overwhelming aversion to point and clicks, there’s no reason not to download it.

  10. Shadrach says:

    I love ScummVM – even have it for my mobile but wish I had a touchscreen or pen. Imagine, you can play Sam & Max on your mobile :)

    I currently have Sam & Max, Monkey Island 1 + 2 and Beneath A Steel Sky installed. And yes I own them all (even if I got the backup from the net).

  11. Ravenger says:

    Sam & Max and The Dig are currently on sale at my local Morrison’s for around £6, so it’s not true to say that the Lucas Arts adventure games are no longer on sale.

  12. Hoernchen says:

    Beneath A Steel Sky… just awesome.

  13. Shadrach says:

    Oh damn…
    “Sorry, ScummVM does not accept donations. Please encourage the project admins to opt in to the donation feature.”

  14. A-Scale says:

    Superb title, but I won’t be bunging anyone.

    Also, when is this damn thing coming to the (unjailbroken) iPhone? I want my Sam and Max!

  15. Nero says:

    Oh how I love this application. Thanks to this I’ve played my favorites quite a few more times. There’s also a Wii port which works pretty well indeed.

  16. Theoban says:

    Without ScummVM I would never have played the original Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle or Beneath a Steel Sky. Brilliant program.

  17. Xercies says:

    I hate it that some Lucasarts games are not considered Abandonware but you can’t buy them either which means that you have to be lucky and have these games in your closet. Either make them abandonware or place them in a shop or something.

  18. N says:

    Looking at that screenshot I am reminded how much I loathe the new telltale series… bleh.

    Yeah, scummvm is awesomes…

  19. karthik says:

    Beneath a Steel Sky on Scumm is the only decent adventure game playable on most Linux distributions without Wine. For that reason alone, Scumm is wonderful.

    As for the above comments, the Beneath A Steel Sky game file is available from the default repositories in Ubuntu, so I reckon it’s about as free as software can get.

  20. Markoff Chaney says:

    I’ve been following SCUMMVM for a long time and it is pure 1000% awesome. When SCI was integrated it turned into an even better place for old school adventure game lovers with most all the Sierra stuff in one place too. I still have quite a few 3.5 inchers laying around. DOXBox is wonderful for getting those older games up and running too, but anything that works on a native environment using just data files I already bought once is greatly appreciated.

    Adding the 7th Guest was wonderful too, since she’s always been finicky in non 9X boxes. I’m sure I still have that jewel case around. My first CD-ROM based game IIRC (that or one of the Tex Murphy’s, I just can’t remember). We wouldn’t have had MYST without the 7th Guest. Phenomenal game, for it’s time…

  21. Flint says:

    Nick
    “ScummVM is like DosBox in that it simply enables older games to work without hassle”

    DosBox? Without hassle? What is this weird alternative universe.

    But yeah, ScummVM is wonderful and other emulators should take notice of its interface. By other emulators, I mean DosBox.

  22. LionsPhil says:

    Woot. Good to see RPS showing ScummVM some love. :)

  23. C says:

    I’ve never had a problem running games in Dosbox as long as you use a good GUI, like D-Fend or DBGL.

  24. Nick says:

    I was hoping I wouldn’t have to qualify that statement as I was merely comparing it to DosBox in the emulation of older games sense and the without hassle part was in reference to ScummVM rather than DosBox. They just serve a similar purpose.

  25. Nick says:

    Also I have never had any issues with the more recent builds of DosBox since they added dynamic cycles, beyond adding a few lines to a config file. Then again I grew up using Dos.

  26. Blather Blob says:

    Also, when is this damn thing coming to the (unjailbroken) iPhone?

    As I recall, Apple specifically forbids apps which use interperted code, including virtual machines. And guess what the VM in ScummVM stands for? So the best you can hope for is Beneath a Steel Sky or Flight of The Amazon Queen getting added to the app store with a neutered ScummVM behind the scenes, unable to run anything except the game you downloaded it with.

    but a lot of those SCUMM games are still for sale

    And many of them even ship with ScummVM! I bought the first two Broken Swords on a budget release, specifically for loading the data files into ScummVM, and was pleasantly surprised to find ScummVM was being used on the DVD anyway. The versions of the Simon The Sorcerer games, the Broken Sword games, Waxworks, and The Feeble Files from gog.com all use ScummVM too.

  27. mashakos says:

    when I played Full Throttle on my iphone last year, I didn’t realise that the iPhone was the PERFECT platform for point and click adventures.

    I hope the scummVM devs incorporate the 3D engine used for Grim Fandango and that 3D Monkey Island game. Then port it to the iPhone :D

  28. Lim-Dul says:

    dadioflex – you’ll be happy to know that ScummVM is even endorsed by some companies that made the original games… AFAIK ScummVM is also packaged with certain re-releases in classic adventure games collections…

    ScummVM just enables you to play old games – if you have the original game on a disc somewhere then it would be otherwise unplayable on modern systems.

    It’s in NO WAY connected to piracy just like having an internet connection at home that COULD be used to download illegal content doesn’t make you a software pirate.

    I don’t know what you logic is, sir, but it’s clearly flawed. It’s like accusing Microsoft of producing the MS Virtual PC because you can run illegal OSes on it; or suing the manufacturer of cutlery because you can stab someone with the knives they produce…

  29. Lim-Dul says:

    Ah – I just noticed that GoodOldGames.com, who are of course selling games completely legally since they have contracts with the original publishers, are providing people who bought old adventure games with the ScummVM application to run them.

    There’s not a single law that’s broken here, dadioflex – in fact everybody’s happy that they can sell their back catalog (which would be otherwise unplayable) SO many years after the initial release.

  30. Kua says:

    I’m alt+tabbed from SCUMMVM as I type :)

  31. Vykromod says:

    To confirm something said above, I bought some of the old Lucasarts adventures that I’d missed first time around a few years back. One of them – either Full Throttle or The Dig, I can’t remember which – worked surprisingly well.

    A coincidental alt-tab at one point revealed that ScummVM was running behind the scenes. As far as I can tell, it’s not only packaged with some of the re-releases, it runs automatically with the game.

  32. Kua says:

    Hehe I just came across an assassinated Grim Fandango in the Chicken Shop. There’s very little like this being made today (though I do highly recommendy Nelly Cootalot!). I’m not one to say all modern games are pap, that’s far from the truth, but they do have a tendency to take themselves far too seriously.

  33. Aftershock says:

    PIRACY !?!? WHERE?

  34. TheSombreroKid says:

    sorry to be pedantic scummvm isn’t an engine the clues in the name i’ll let you figure it out yourself ;)

  35. Skurmedel says:

    I’m sorry, but why did you remove my comment? :(

  36. beetleboy says:

    ScummVM is lovely.. been some years since I gave Sam n Max a spin in it. 5 years maybe? Anyway, I loved it – except the music was a bit off, as in, the midi/instruments/technical thingamajigs were somehow not quite properly emulated.. anyone know if that’s gotten better? might just dig out the old Sam n Max CD..

  37. pilouuuu says:

    Well, my comment was erased too, Skurmedel. It must have something to do about the edit of post about Sam and Max.

    We’ll forgive and forget about that, Alec and assume you never thought about that :-)

    Scumm VM is magnificent in the way it can handle many old engines so well and allow us to appreciate how good storytelling can be in games and what can happen if more developers like Telltale bring back our beloved adventure genre to the 21st century.

    Shame on you, Lucasarts!

  38. Little Green Man says:

    I think any developer who’s games have gone out of print should eventually either reprint a load of copies for cheap or just abandonware them. They’re gaining no money from just letting the ip sit there, might as well make the fans happy, or they’ll just pirate it.

  39. Charlie says:

    I’m guessing they are holding on to the ip for a sequel or to sell it. Maybe they just think they might make money from sueing pirates?

  40. Ginger Yellow says:

    Playing your LucasArts adventure games on your mobile phone is pretty much the coolest thing in the world. I love ScummVM.

  41. Skree says:

    Tru.dat Ginger Yellow. I checked out the ScummVM site, when I saw this article, for the first time in a while, and was pleased to find an S60 version. Now playing DOTT through again on my N95, just amazing memories and geek points :D

  42. Ginger Yellow says:

    It looks great on an N95′s screen, but it really drains the batteries.

  43. Alex says:

    You have brought joy to my Sunday, RPS types.
    You have also made me entirely waste it, sitting, as I am, in my pants. But my Wii makes a lovely platform for point-n-click games.

  44. mister k says:

    I had the bundle of trouble (or whatever it was called), and it was a joyful friend. And then it went missing, and I mourn it’s loss, as the only place to purchase the sodding thing is ebay for extortionate prices. One would think lucas arts could make a pretty penny by selling the damn games on steam/stardock… Sigh.

  45. DrMcCoy says:

    “Open Source”, not “Freeware”. :P
    /pedant

  46. salty-horse says:

    @The Hammer, discworld support is already in place, but will only be available in the next release. If you’re anxious, you can try a development build at:
    http://scummvm.sourceforge.net/downloads.php#SVN

    @Alec Meer, ScummVM isn’t a “freeware project”. Way better.. It’s Free Software (Open source). You can do whatever you want with the code as long as you keep it free.

  47. Ian says:

    Scumm is on my must-use-more list.

  48. Bobsy says:

    Since it allows me to play Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, it is Sex Leg.

  49. Weylund says:

    Get GOG on it – they could just bundle the data files at $9.95 a pop. Man, they’d sell a metric crapton of those. Can’t imagine why Lucas wouldn’t want to do that, GOG provides all the support.

    Anybody still forum surf there? I just go there occasionally to buy new (well, old) games.

  50. JonFitt says:

    I have put in a request along with many others for the Lucasarts games at GoG. I encourage others to do the same.

    ScummVM seems like an odd thing to suddenly mention, but I guess there are some vault dwellers who may not have used it.

    How is the iPhone as a platform? It seems like it’d be hard to pixel hunt with only squidgy fingers. It worked well on my old Windows device.