The game was released on October 30, 1998 for Windows. The game is modeled after the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, and features characters modeled after calaveras (Spanish for skeleton) in the festival. In fact, the main character, Manny Calavera is named after the calaveras themselves.
The game was designed and led by Tim Schafer, who was the co-writer on the first two Monkey Island games, the co-leader on Day of the Tentacle, and the project leader on Full Throttle. In the game, a grim reaper named Manny Calavera is just trying to pay his dues to the Department of Death so that he can finally get to the land of eternal rest. However, the best clients seem to be taken by other grim reapers, meaning Manny will never meet his quota, and thus will be stuck working off his debt to the Department of Death forever. He decides to take matters into his own hands, and get himself a client who has led a good life, and in the process discovers a trail of death and corruption, and a conspiracy within the department.
The game is set over four years, which is the traditional amount of time it takes in Mexican culture to travel to your eternal resting place. The original release was released on two compact discs, and has a soundtrack composed by LucasArts veteran Peter McConnell.
The original version of Grim Fandango is now out of print, but since it was sold at retail it can still be purchased on the used games market. There is good news for people looking to purchase this game at a reasonable price, however, as Double Fine created a remastered version with improved textures, less compressed videos, improved controls, and re-recorded music. Grim Fandango Remastered was released for PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita on January 27, 2015.
The original version of the game is compatible with ResidualVM, a project to run 3D adventure games on multiple platforms. With ResidualVM, Grim Fandango can be run on modern versions of Windows, as well as Linux, MacOS X, AmigaOS 4, and IRIX.
Go inside Grim Fandango, courtesy of Cafe Calavera: