A few weeks ago I was contacted by Laserschwert (Jan) who, for a number of years, has done high-quality posters and restoration work from the artwork of many of our favorite games. You can visit his newest poster-thread and see his awesome work on The International House of Mojo website here.
Jan asked if I could scan the cover of my FM-Towns version of Monkey Island 2 LeChuck’s Revenge. I used the occasion to pull out my other Lucas FM Towns titles and did this small article.
The Japanese Fujitsu Micro personal computer, or FM Towns, Towns (Townes) being the development codename, was one of the very first multimedia computers and one of the first to come equipped with a CD-ROM drive. While being Japan-only, the FM Towns received, from 1990 to 1994, six of Lucasfilm/Arts’ adventure titles.
James Leiterman, a senior software engineer at Lucas went on to do the majority of conversion work on all six games. Some received new sound and music, one completely new graphics, and some Japanese language.
While Lucasfilm/Arts’ adventure titles are highly praised today most of them never became commercially successful in their time, it could seem baffling why anybody would choose to spend time and energi porting them to a fairly unknown market that was, at least from a cultural standpoint, vastly different but Fujitsu, to showcase its FM Towns computers capabilities, financed western developers for them to bring their games to the Japanese market.
Mighty Sierra had in the eighties tried to tap into the Japanese market but the big cultural differences had made the venture a failure. What worked in the western part of the world did not necessarily work in Japan.
While FM-Towns was superior to other computers at the time with better media capabilities, it only became moderately successful with around 500.000 units sold, resulting in a relatively small customer base.
The “western” product alongside the small customer base resulted in none of the Lucas’ FM-Towns titles becoming commercially successful, rendering most of them considerably rare today.
Loom, originally released in 1990 (IBM floppy EGA). The FM Towns CD-ROM version with enhanced 256-color VGA graphics and a new digital soundtrack was released in 1991. The dialogue and story elements remained unchanged from the original version. Unlike the Software Toolworks CD-ROM release that featured CD Audio speech, which required an entire CD-track and resulted in no closeups and cutscenes and dialogue to be shortened, the FM Towns had no speech and kept the full dialogue. The FM Towns version had graphics at places that were subpar to that of the Software Toolworks release (when the FM Towns version was being converted the graphics for the VGA CD-ROM release wasn’t completely done)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, originally released in May of 1989 (IBM floppy EGA) concurrently with the movie of the same name. The FM Towns CD-ROM version with 256-color graphics and a CD Audio soundtrack was released in 1990. The CD-quality soundtrack was specially recorded for the version (music-wise the best version of the game). The FM Towns release differs a bit at places from the IBM/PC VGA counterpart.
The FM Towns release is playable in both English and Japanese languages
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, originally released in the summer of 1992 (IBM/PC floppy VGA). In 1993 a “Talkie” version (full speech) was released. The FM Towns CD-ROM version, essentially the same as the “talkie” version, was released in 1994. The music is not CD audio and is subpar to that of the Roland MT-32.
The FM Towns release is playable in both English and Japanese languages (only text)
The Secret of Monkey Island, originally released in October of 1990 (IBM/PC floppy EGA). The FM Towns CD-ROM version with 256-color graphics and a CD Audio soundtrack was released in September of 1992, published by Victor Entertainment Inc. The FM Towns release, besides having the inventory icons in EGA, only had a few minor differences to that of the IBM/PC VGA version
Monkey Island 2 LeChuck’s Revenge, originally released in 1991 (IBM/PC floppy VGA). The FM Towns CD-ROM version with 256-color graphics and a CD Audio soundtrack was released in 1994, published by Victor Entertainment Inc. The FM Towns release was, besides a few very minor differences, identical to that of the IBM/PC VGA release but had better sound effects. Monkey Island 2 became the last Lucas title to be published for the FM Towns computers
Zak McKracken (and the Alien Mindbenders), originally released in late Autumn of 1988 (IBM/PC floppy EGA). The FM Towns CD-ROM version with 256-color graphics and a CD Audio soundtrack was released in 1990. Zak McKracken was the only title in the Lucas FM Towns lineup that received a major overhaul, not only to the graphics (which originally was 16 colors) but also to the cover art, which was redone for the Japanese market (like Loom).
The FM Towns release was playable in both English and Japanese languages, in the English version, the main characters resembled their EGA counterparts, while they in the Japanese version were given anime eyes.
The FM Towns version of Zak McKracken is, by most, considered the definite version