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Snipe Hunt: Grim Fandango on Mac OS X - On Matters of Great Import
(there is no subtitle)
Snipe Hunt: Grim Fandango on Mac OS X
I sometimes get a little obsessed with tasks... missions... quests? I see a goal, and will do whatever it takes to reach some sort of resolution. The hunt is often all consuming and generally pretty ridiculous when framed against larger goals like working, eating, etc, and compared to the level of energy I put into those endeavors (which is not to say that "working" or "eating" haven't themselves been targets of er quests).

Grim Fandango is a PC game released in 1998 for Windows only (target OS was Windows 95/98). It's a game I always meant to play. Rave reviews and all that. But I really wanted to get it working on my Macbook. Not sure why, exactly. I have a perfectly fine desktop PC I use for most gaming, and I know it works on that. But, what if I wanted to play Grim Fandango anywhere. Well, then I'd be right out of luck, or so I thought. I honestly can't remember the impulse that shoved me along on this particular quest, but the goal was laid out.

I thought at first ScummVM would lead me to success. This program emulates many of the '90s LucasArts adventure games (the golden era of adventure gaming, arr) which used the framework called Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion (SCUMM). Maniac Mansion was the first of many games to use it. Turns out Grim Fandango, while borrowing many elements from SCUMM, wasn't actually built on it, so no dice.

There was an emulation project from the same guys who built ScummVM just for Grim Fandango. And someone actually ported it to Mac OS X. It's called Grim X. It sorta does the trick but it's unfortunately half-baked, too unfinished to play the game fully.

I have a copy of Parallels, which allows me to run any number of OSes on Mac OS X, and thus have Windows XP running on the Macbook. I installed the game and applied the patch. The game launcher worked just fine (sort of the majordomo of the game, you go through it first). This could be the paydirt! But no. While the game launcher worked, the actual game bombed out every time.

Hunting around the interweb, folks who had had problems running Grim Fandango under Windows XP said you had to go to turn on the Windows 95 or Windows 98 compatibility mode for that app (howto: right click app icon -> Properties -> Compatibility). But this did nothing. No matter how I twiddled with the various compatibility settings, this lead to no working results. I strongly suspect since the game wants to run under 640x480 that the Parallels video driver just can't cope with whatever Windows voodoo the game is trying to pull.

While looking around, I came across a custom Grim Fandango game launcher that among other things allowed the game to play in windowed mode (didn't attempt to take control of the screen).

And... voila:

It works. Although 640x480 is pretty wee at native resolution on this Macbook. I can scale the Macbook resolution down to 800x600 and then play that way, but it's not as optimal as being able to play fullscreen. Success: 95%.

Next steps (if I can work up the effort to care about needing fullscreen) is to try it under Bootcamp or install Windows 98 (UGH) under Parallels.

If you've read this far, you're a big nerd. Hi.

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4 comments or Leave a comment
chorus From: chorus Date: April 13th, 2007 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, duh I'm a big nerd.

I don't have the problem with having to find a way to run Windows-native stuff on a Mac, but I sympathize with the problems you had running an older game under XP. I've got this absolutely terrific game called Sanitarium, which I'd love to show to my sweetie, and we canNOT get it to run past a very early scene without crashing, no matter how many different ways of trying we've, well, tried.
zeade From: zeade Date: April 24th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
All software sucks!
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 9th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)

hi back

hi back,

love nerd
Jeremy Brown From: Jeremy Brown Date: January 30th, 2012 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi yourself, and thank you kindly for this post.
4 comments or Leave a comment