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Not much is known about the life of Manuel "Manny" Calavera. It is, however, known what happened to him after he died. The Land of the Dead is where all people are reincarnated after death, turning into skeletal figures. The Land of the Dead is also very similar to the world of the living: people work, have careers, fall in love, and can even die again, turning into flowers. And they all await their final destiny - a trip to the underworld. Depending on their deeds in life, they might get a good journey or be destined to walk there without any means.

Manny works in a travel agency that takes care of such trips. But recently, something has been going wrong. Manny is unable to get good clients, and he suspects that there is a scheme to falsify the dossiers of dead people, offering the best trips to scoundrels for bribes. Manny's grand adventure begins as he steps into the world of corruption and intrigues.

Grim Fandango is a puzzle-solving adventure game that describes several years of Manny Calavera's afterlife. Influenced by Mexican mythology, film noir and Art Deco, the game combines 3D characters with pre-rendered backgrounds. The traditional mouse interaction was abandoned in favor of keyboard control for movements and actions. Manny is navigated with arrow keys, and tilts his head whenever something attracts his interest; the object or character in question can then be examined or interacted with.

As usually in LucasArts' adventure games, conversations offer plenty of different responses that can be chosen by the player. Despite the lack of the option to combine items with each other within the inventory, the game still contains many challenging puzzles that require manipulating inventory items and the environment.


Grim Fandango Windows Manny changes occupations every year
Grim Fandango Windows The title screen appears in the beginning of the stylish introductory video
Grim Fandango Windows Helping Glottis build self confidence
Grim Fandango Windows Main menu

Promo Images

Grim Fandango Concept Art
Grim Fandango Concept Art
Grim Fandango Concept Art
Grim Fandango Concept Art


Alternate Titles

  • "神通鬼大" -- Traditional Chinese spelling
  • "冥界狂想曲" -- Simplified Chinese spelling
  • "Deeds of the Dead" -- Working title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Swan song in the afterlife Unicorn Lynx (181490) 4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars
A gem so flawless, you need an electron microscope to see its flaws. Zack Green (1186) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
If video games really are art, this is the greatest game ever made. kyuzo (21) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
A great game with some minor flaws Marty Bonus (41) unrated
Excellent modern adventure Ashley Pomeroy (233) 4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars
The greatest game ever James Isaac (284) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
Extraordinary game! Fakey McFake (4) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
Ultra stylish epic, and the beauty is more than skin-deep. Shazbut (167) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
"I Am More Than Dead" MasterMegid (902) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
Wow, I didn't think that the dead could talk Katakis | カタキス (41895) unrated

Critic Reviews

Cincinnati Enquirer 1999 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 100
GameBoomers 2004 A+ 100
GameSpot Oct 30, 1998 9.3 out of 10 93
PC Gamer Jan, 1999 91 out of 100 91
Oldies Rising Aug 06, 2008 18 out of 20 90
Power Play Dec, 1998 89 out of 100 89 Jul 30, 1999 8.5 out of 10 85
The Good Old Days (Staff Reviews only) May 25, 2013 5 out of 6 83
Vgames Jul 22, 1999 81 out of 100 81
Score Nov, 1998 8 out of 10 80


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1001 Video Games

Grim Fandango appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Cut dialogue

Originally, Manny could find out the entire conspiracy in a conversation with Domino in Year Three. The audio files shipped with the game, but the dialogue tree was cut.


  • In the hallway of the DOD there is a picture of a boat. If you look at in Manny says "Not that I have a choice, but I wonder if I would be happier working on a ship. Then again I'm so competitive I wouldn't be able to rest until I was Captain." At the end of year two on the ship he is just the cleaner, and then a year later he is the captain.
  • The main character in this game is a skeleton, take a look at the side of the box and you'll see a different LucasArts logo. The usual golden figure who raises his arms (towards the sun?) is replaced by a skeleton.


  • The game's hero is Manny Calavera. Calaveras are actually those skeleton-dolls, which the majority of the characters in this game are.
  • One of the characters is called Olivia Ofrenda. "Ofrenda" is a Mexican celebration of the dead.
  • As in many others LucasArts games, you can find Max, from Sam & Max. Go to the tattoo parlor (in Rubacava, you must walk all the way to the right). Take a look to the poster and you will find him in the tattoo designs.
  • In year 2, there is a part of the game where you see a Blimp/Zeppelin hovering in the air above the Cat Tracks... As you cross the bridge under it, a short melody plays which is part of the opening theme to Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe... and older World War 2 flightsim from Lucasarts (or Lucasfilm Games as it was known back then)
  • Including the references mentioned below, the game's characters have many similarities to actual Day of the Dead objects. There is, for example, Don Copal - Copal is a festive resin from tropical trees often burned in special bowls on graves during the Day of the Dead in Mexico.
  • You soon end up working for an underground organisation called the L.S.A., or the Lost Souls Alliance. As stated in the manual Grim Fandango is steeped in references to Aztec and Mayan culture and art (as well as Mexican folklore and film noir of the 1930's, 40's and 50's). LSA (for short) is the psychoactive ingredient of 'Ololiuqui' - the Aztec name for the seeds of certain plants that have been used and held sacred by the Aztecs for many years. This may or may not be intentional but trivia nonetheless!
  • The game contains a reference to Frank Herbert's sci-fi cult novel Dune. At the end of the 4th year, when Salvador bites down on a fake tooth, releasing a cloud of poison that kills both him and his victim, he alludes to an almost identical event in Dune.

Budget & Sales

The budget was a whopping 3 million dollars but the sales didn't live up to that investment. As of 2004, Grim Fandango is the only game that didn't make LucasArts a profit.

Saving screen

As you progress through the game, more of the design over the save screen will show.


The game was originally going to be named Deeds of the Dead but the management at LucasArts didn't want a reference to death in the title.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • April 1999 (Issue #177) – Best Adventure Game of the Year (together with Sanitarium)
    • January 2001 (Issue #199) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • March 2001 (Issue #200) - #7 Best Game Of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #87 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #41 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2000 - Best Adventure in 1999
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 11/2005 - #2 Game Which Absolutely Needs A Sequel
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1999 – Best Adventure in 1998
Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Emepol, James Isaac. PCGamer77, Roedie, Scott Monster, SDfish, Tom Murphy, WildKard, Unicorn Lynx and Zack Green

Related Web Sites

Ryan Lucas (15) added Grim Fandango (Windows) on Aug 10, 1999