Mod Removes Grim Fandango Tank Controls, World Cheers

By Nathan Grayson on February 25th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

While incredible, Grim Fandango‘s relationship with the modern era is a complicated one. Foremost, there is no easy way to purchase it digitally, which sadly signals its death knell in the eyes of many more convenience-minded folks. But even if you opt to acquire it and get it up and running, there’s still the issue of, you know, playing your videogame. Rose-tinted glasses might see only Grim Fandango’s sterling personality and solid puzzles, but there is a third suspect in the room: terribly awkward tank controls, you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney, and no just kidding we’re tossing you in a furnace.

All credit goes to modder Tobias Pfaff, who replaced Grim’s grimy control scheme with a more classic point-and-click interface. He explained:

“I got annoyed by the Grim Fandango’s tank controls, so I made a classical point&click interface. The game is now 100% playable with mouse only (bugs to be expected, though).”

“As the game was never intended to be used with mouse control, and contains a lot of puzzles with non-standard controls, this required massive modifications of both ResidualVM and the game source. Some of the RVM edits may have unintended consequences for other games and platforms, so I think it’s better to keep the codebase separate.”

You can download the mod here, though it might require a fairly significant amount of fiddling to get up and running. But still: Grim Fandango without controls that make it irritating as all get-out to interact with basic objects. Hurrah!

Has anyone tried this yet? Does it work well? Also, where is a Steam or GOG version of Grim Fandango? I’m guessing the rights belong to Disney now, so that doesn’t bode well. Perhaps I’ll do some snooping, but I’m less than optimistic.

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77 Comments »

  1. Lars Westergren says:

    > I’m guessing the rights belong to Disney now

    They do.
    https://twitter.com/TimOfLegend/status/263394826425339905

    I expect Disney squatting on the IP like a big fat toad for eternity is more likely than a re-release on GoG. But who knows.

    Edit: Oh and by the way, Grim is tied with Torment for my best game ever, but I don’t want a sequel. I want the same teams to do new exciting stories in new worlds. I personally think I got it with Broken Age, and I hope I’m getting it with Pillars of Eternity.

    • pullthewires says:

      Isn’t Tide of Numnums the Torment ‘sequel’? Pillars of Eternity seems to be much more an Icewind Dale follow-up.

      • Zekiel says:

        Yes. But Pillars is by Obsidian (sort of successor company to Black Isle who made PST), it’ll be written by some of the same people as PST, and if you look at their original Kickstarter pitch (made before Tides of Numenara was a thing) they reference PST as much as Baldurs Gate/Icewind Dale.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        As Zekiel said, the Eternity Kickstarter pitch mentioned a rich story like Torment, exciting and varied combat like in Icewind Dale, and a big and detailed world to explore like Baldur’s Gate.

        Obsidian in my mind are the custodians of the legacy of Black Isle and Troika, and from what I’ve seen of the updates they seem to be on the right path to create something extraordinary. Josh Sawyer who I only knew vaguely by name before has really impressed me with the quantity and quality of his updates, containing long discussions of design choices. inXile I don’t know as well, but Wasteland 2 seems on the way to become a solid title, though I haven’t seen anything mindblowing so far.

        I really like the worldbuilding of PoE too. Despite being deliberate trad-fantasy, a lot of work seems to be going into creating a complex, believable and internally consistent cosmology and magic system, tied into the gods and souls. Numenera, while certainly imaginative, feels a bit flimsy to me sometimes. Too much “hey storyteller, just drop a Deus Ex Machina in whenever you feel like it, you can just say it is magic forgotten technology”. It’s a deliberate choice though, they are aiming more for people who like storytelling than those who are excited by stats and rule-mastery. Ideally I would like to see both those though.

        Not to be negative against Torment: Numenera or inXile here, I backed them with a significant sum, I’m just saying that to me they feel more like an unknown quantity than Obsidian.

        • XhomeB says:

          “Obsidian in my mind are the custodians of the legacy of Black Isle and Troika”

          They do seem to be influenced by BI’s & Troika’s work, but I’d say they’re simply not on the same level, some of the games they have created are hardly masterpieces to say the least. Dungeon Siege 3, Alpha Protocol, NWN2, New Vegas were, um,… so-so at best. Mask of the Betrayer is the only one that stood out, but you need to own the super bland NWN2 to play it.
          It’s kind of funny, because the team behind Age of Decadence – Iron Tower – is THE only one that bravely carries on Troika’s torch in my book. No other company comes close.

          • Crimsoneer says:

            Eurgh, so offensive. Alpha Protocol and New Vegas are practically Troika games – wonderful, broken, so full of potential. God, I love AP.

          • Artea says:

            They’re not ‘influenced’ by Black Isle, they are the closest thing to Black Isle. Obsidian employs dozens of former Black Isle staff, and all its co-founders are Black Isle veterans.
            Lumping New Vegas and Alpha Protocol in with Dungeon Siege III is very odd. The latter was just a competent-but-simple hack-and-slash done for a paycheck and had no pretensions of being a complex RPG.

          • XhomeB says:

            @Artea
            I am aware of the fact Obsidian’s home to some former BI employees, but that doesn’t mean anything, because thus far they’ve always been short on resources or relegated to doing some spin-offs or sequels of existing mediocre franchises (example: New Vegas would have been good if it wasn’t for shoddy gameplay mechanics and engine made by Bethesda, it should have been a game in the vein of originals instead). I’m hoping Pillars of Eternity will be their best game yet, it’s a chance for Obsidian to finally prove what they’re capable of.

          • SavageTech says:

            Say what you will about New Vegas, but it beats the pants off of Fallout 3. Given Obsidian’s constraints on the project (“Make another Falloutblivion”) I’d say they did a good job. I can’t think of any flaws that weren’t a result of what they were forced to work with.

            Likewise for a lot of their games, actually. I know Alpha Protocol was a solo effort that got heavily panned, but I still think they’ve got the potential to make something great when they aren’t being forced to make sequels to established franchises. I guess we’ll find out this year.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Pillars is looking like it’s using BGII as its guiding star. Two big cities, optional mega-dungeon, stronghold, etc.

    • Snids says:

      Well on the bright side, at least now Disney own the IP it makes it slightly more likely that Pixar could make a movie of it. They’re already doing something that sounds like Psychonauts.
      I’d put the figure somewhere between 0.00001% and 0.000001%.

      But then again, a creative team of digital entertainment creators to be aware of the works of another team of highly regarded digital entertainment creators isn’t that crazy rite?

      crosses fingers under desk

      • SurprisedMan says:

        They’re also making a Day of the Dead themed film, after that, so I doubt it – but perhaps some Grim Fandango in fan in Pixar might think to give Manny a background cameo or something.

        • Snids says:

          Oh god, yes I’d forgotten about that!

        • TheTingler says:

          Don’t forget – Steve Purcell (creator of Sam & Max and artist on many LucasArts games including Grim) works at Pixar now and is quite high up with them. He produced and co-directed Brave. It wouldn’t take much for him to say “you know guys, Disney own the rights to a great Day of the Dead-themed story I worked on previously, it’d be a hell of a lot easier to adapt that”.

    • DrollRemark says:

      I don’t want a sequel

      Yes, this. It’s a fabulous game, and entirely self-contained.

  2. CelticPixel says:

    Despite having not bought a physical boxed copy of a game in over 5 years I have a box in my parents loft with physical copies of all my favourite past games I still can’t get digitally, and there sits Grim Fandango next to NOLF 1 & 2, Myst IV and…Chessmaster 10. Next time I visit my parents I will ceremoniously remove Resident Evil 4 from the box at least.

    • Bostec says:

      Its a sad day when you can not get NOLF anywhere digitally. Its a poor poor world we live in.

      • phuzz says:

        You can’t get it anywhere legally. Historians of the future will have much to thank pirates for.

      • TheTingler says:

        Why not, though? Who owns it? I’m prepared to bet in the next year both NOLF games will appear on GOG.

        Tron 2.0 and Aliens Vs Predator 2 however are lost to the ages.

        • Urthman says:

          Maybe not in the UK? But Amazon USA at least will hook you up with boxed new copies for NOLF 1&2, Tron 2.0, and AVP2 for ~$20-30

        • jorygriffis says:

          I hope you’re right about NOLF finally going digital, Tingler, but I seem to remember reading about long-standing rights issues with the games, along with the fact that the source code has apparently been completely lost! (I do not have any facts to back this up, though.)

          • Sucram says:

            Nobody seems to know who owns the rights to NOLF. It was Fox Interactive which was bought by Vivendi which merged with Activision. But Activision say the don’t have the rights. Monolith was bought by WB, but they don’t seem to own the rights either.

        • Turkey says:

          It says on Wikipedia that Fox Interactive got bought by Vivendi before they went out of business. The Nolf games got made before the merger, though. I think Vivendi owns the rights, but I’m not sure.

  3. XhomeB says:

    Best mod ever, I always thought it would be impossible to create. Not that I hate GF controls, they’re functional, but I’ve always found the keyboard-based movement… “unnecessary”.
    Can’t wait until it reaches the “ready for official release” status.

  4. amateurviking says:

    This is why you should never throw out your disks! I shall have to dig this out and give the mod a whirl.

    ‘I’M AT THE JUNKYARD. WOOOO!’

  5. LionsPhil says:

    Oh, cool. This must also mean that ResidualVM (the sister project of ScummVM coping with adventures like this that don’t fit Scumm’s 2D world) is nearing very good support for Grim. Which means Grim on new hardware and operating systems with less grief, tank controls or no.

    Finishable with a few minor glitches“, apparently.

  6. N'Al says:

    Anyone know whether this works with MI4 as well?

    Yes, yes, nowhere near as good as Grim (or the other MIs for that matter), but that game would certainly benefit from a mouse-driven interface just as much as Grim does.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Probably not, since ResidualVM’s support for it is apparently pretty incomplete (see: my link above, click the game name).

      I guess it suffers from lack of popular or obsessive fan interest to make it work.

    • Botje says:

      ResidualVM dev here.
      Support for MI4 is better than the website shows.
      I think it’s completable or nearly so.
      Try it out, if you get stuck or ResidualVM crashes, let us know so we can take a look.

  7. DrMcCoy says:

    Credits also go to the ResidualVM team for, you know, reverse-engineering and reimplementing Grim Fandango in the first place.

  8. DrScuttles says:

    Absolutely spiffing news. Every time I play Grim, some blind spot in my brain confuses the ‘look at’ and ‘use’ keys almost every single time when rooting through Manny’s inventory. Unlike the tank controls, this can only be a result of my own personal incompetence. But it still irks me somewhat chronic.

  9. gschmidl says:

    I tried it. Took 5 minutes to set up (download Residual build, copy CDs into directory), works beautifully.

  10. tomimt says:

    It’s been ages when I last time played Grim. God, how I hated those controls.

  11. Viscera says:

    Should I ever get the opportunity to Play GF, I think I’ll pass on this. Mods, unsurprisingly, tend to include more bugs, especially such big ones. Also, the game isn’t actually designed for such a control scheme, which might have bad effects on some parts. It’s even acknowledged that there are issues.

    Besides, whe I play a game for the first time, I rather play it as intended.

    • misterT0AST says:

      Well, installing a mod without trying the game first is usually silly. You’re right to try the game as is first.

      Keep in mind, though, that games aren’t always 100% a product of the will of the developer (which you seem to imply, considering the game “as it came out” like “as intended”, which aren’t always the same thing). Sometimes it’s nice to overcome the limitations of the time/budget constraints of the developers, technical backwardness of the era when the game was made, temporary fads (like considering tank controls a comfortable way to move in a 3d space), and I feel like adding a Lucasarts style movement option to a Lucasarts game would be something completely compatible with the developers’ vision of what the game should be.

      • SurprisedMan says:

        In fact, I recall a recent interview with Tim Schafer where he remarked something about wishing GF was controllable with a mouse. I can’t remember where.

  12. Shadowcat says:

    Funnily enough I installed* Grim Fandango on my hand-held recently, and concluded that the original controls are pretty much ideal in that environment. When you have D-pad etc, but only a (small!) touch-screen to use in place of a mouse, point-and-click isn’t as good an interface as usual.

    * Also via Residual, of course — a huge THANK YOU to the RVM devs. You’re awesome!!

    • Snids says:

      What kind of handheld? I’m trying to guess, but coming up with nothing.

      • thaquoth says:

        Sounds like she’s using a Nintendo DS.

        Never thought about putting RVM on there, but ScummVM works like a charm.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        Unofficially for Android. I hope it’s ok to paste this link, other reputable sites seem to be discussing it openly. Personally I think that if you bought the original, replaying it on another device, especially one where you can’t get a official copy, is morally ok.

        http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/Android/Grim+Fandango/news.asp?c=47329

      • Botje says:

        Android support is in the works, you can download daily APK builds from here.
        In the far future maybe we’ll add iOS support, but you will need to jailbreak.

  13. Snids says:

    But how will I leave, then accidentally re-enter a room because the camera changed now?

  14. MeestaNob says:

    Throw in widescreen support and better inventory management and this will have everything I wanted from a remake.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      Well, that point-and-click mod does provide a more traditional inventory system, as can be seen in the demo video.

      Widescreen support would be more difficult, because the backdrops are pre-rendered images.

      • Urthman says:

        Also, Manny rifling through his coat pocket trying to find inventory objects is hilarious and should not be replaced by an inventory window.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      What I’d most want from a remake is a re-rendering of the cut-scenes to get them looking as good as the rest of the game. And possibly a re-modelling of Glottis, who was the only character that suffered from the technical limitations. (As far as I remember. It’s been many years since I played the game. A replay might be in order.)

  15. tomimt says:

    I gave it a quick spin. It does make the navigation a lot easier and the new inventory is fantastic. The hotspots seem to be scattered all around though, so at times you need to play a bit of a guessing game in order to find the right ones, but overall it is a huge, huge improvement from the old control system and inventory.

  16. Lanfranc says:

    “Tank controls”? Does… does that refer to how you control the character? Why “tank controls”? Or are you literally controlling a tank in the game? I must admit I haven’t played GF, but it doesn’t seem very tank-y.

    I’m confuse. :(

    • Lemming says:

      It’s the former.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It would probably be more accurate to say “car controls” or something, since “tank controls” does kind of imply skid-steering (like, say, Katamari Damacy).

      • sd4f says:

        Tank because skids can turn on the spot, cars can not. GF, you press the left key, character rotates left. Press forward, character steps forward. Press both, and the character will move forward while turning at the same time, so you don’t go diagonally, but in a circular path.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      You control your character [Manny] by using left-right to rotate and up-down to go forwards and backwards. Like you would a tank (in a game).

  17. Ergates_Antius says:

    Intimidating? Me?

  18. Hodge says:

    The best thing about this is that I can now start recommending the game to people who missed it first time around, instead of saying “don’t bother, you’ll never get past the controls.”

  19. sfury says:

    Blasphemy! I for one will continue playing it with the tank controls!

    All kidding aside – I’ve replayed this game many times and the controls are ingrained in me, so point-and-click feels a bit unnatural. I much prefer moving my Manny manually – even if his controls are a bit annoying, this way I feel more “in the game” than just clicking.

  20. Contrafibularity says:

    As awesome as this really is, I think I’ve played it too many times now to even just be annoyed by the “tank” controls. It’s just a superb game, flaws and all (well I say flaws but I can’t think of any other flaw atm).

  21. Amazon_warrior says:

    De-lurking briefly to say this is quite relevant to me. After seeing/reading a number of Broken Age reviews, I rushed out to buy…..

    …..Grim Fandango from ebay. Though in fairness I have been meaning to get and play it for ages; it somehow passed me by the first time around. Haven’t got around to installing it yet, but looking forward to giving it a try.

  22. Jahandar says:

    I am normally very picky about controls (I even use FXCV instead of WASD) but I didn’t realize the Grim Fandango controls were hated so much. Glad there’s a mod to resolve it!

  23. zarnywoop says:

    Grimfandango is the third best game ever; after Thief:Dark Project and Treasure Island Dizzy!

  24. Arglebargle says:

    Grim Fandango also had one of the coolest soundtracks ever! I have the extra bits soundtrack permanently in my archive, and still give it a run through every so often. Mostly recorded live. Just Top Notch!

    Lost Souls Alliance! The Enlightened Florist! Ah, so sweet.

    http://www.grimfandango.net/?page=soundtrack

  25. P.Funk says:

    I was never bothered by the Grim controls. Maybe its because I was a hyperactive early teenager when I first played it and my focus outdid the control issues. Maybe I liked Schafer’s idea of there being no abstraction of interface and that everything was contained in the game environment.

    I’d be happy if they had a traditional interface and a new “for picky people” interface. Too much beauty in the game to get hung up on controls in my opinion. Far too much.

    • sd4f says:

      Yea, I don’t get it either. It’s basically FPS controls, just that you don’t view from the first person perspective.