Maniac Mansion


Title           Maniac Mansion
Game Type       Adventure
Company         LucasFilm
Players         1
HD Installable  Yes
Compatibility   All Amigas
Submission      Alkis Polyrakis Profiled Reviewer

Review
Maniac Mansion was the very first adventure game the legendary LucasArts
(called LucasFilms those days) produced. It was also the first game in the
genre that featured both a point & click interface and animated
characters. If Star Wars was the film that gave the company the funds and
reputation they needed in order to build an empire, Maniac Mansion
convinced them they had a future in the game industry as well. One thing
is for sure: The gamers never regretted it.

Story
The story of the game is a wacky cartoon scenario; Dr Fred is your typical
mad scientist character, who lives in a mansion with his nurse Edna and
his son Ed. Twenty years ago, a meteor crashed near his mansion, and Dr
Fred has been conducting weird experiments ever since. You assume the role
of a teenager called Dave. One of the good doctor's latest experiments
involves Dave's girlfriend, Sandy, so naturally Dave decides to go and
rescue her. He takes two of his buddies with him and heads for the
mansion. Inside, Dave and his friends will face the strange inhabitants of
the house, along with some other interesting creatures. Will they succeed
in stopping Dr Fred's evil plans? Will they manage to rescue Sandy without
getting themselves killed in the process? Dave chooses between six of his
friends at the beginning of the game. His choice will affect the story, as
each one of them has some skills, based on their hobbies. There are
nine different endings! Although the ability to control three characters
instead of one may make you think of Role Playing Games, I can assure you
that's not the case. The strongest point of the game's story is the
humour. The characters of Maniac Mansion are full of surprises! They will
often find themselves involved in hilarious situations, and they'll have
to act accordingly in order to get out of them.

Interface
If Sierra set the standards for graphic animated adventures with King's
Quest, and ICOM put an end to all the typing with Deja Vu, LucasArts
taught the world that these two technologies could be combined. The game's
engine was called SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion), and
it was so successful that they used it for every adventure game they ever
made for the Amiga since then. Everything is controlled by the mouse. The
game's graphics occupy 2/3 of the screen. On the bottom third, you can see
a list of the 15 available commands and the inventory. Performing an
action on an item is done by clicking on the relevant command and then on
the item. Example: Click on "Open" then on the door. Choosing the "What
is" command and moving the pointer over an item you can interact with will
display the item's name. You can switch to any of the three characters
(provided that they're all alive) at anytime throughout the game. No
wait.. you CAN choose a dead player, in which case you will see his/her
grave, but you won't be able to control him. :) You can also save the
game, load a previous saved position, start a new game.. but you can't
quit! The saving system is not good; there are only 10 available save
positions, and no option to name them.

Graphics & sound
Well this is 1988 we're talking about.. I can characterize the graphics as
adequate. The 16-color backgrounds are nothing to write home about, but
they are well drawn and the items can be recognized for what they are..
which is rare even in many recent games! The sound effects are almost non
existent.

Puzzles
This is by far the best part.. Maniac Mansion has some of the more clever
and innovative puzzles ever found in an adventure game! It is extremely
non-linear, as you can solve many of them in any order you like. Since you
often have no clue as to what you are supposed to do next, the game is
extremely hard. There are dozens of objects and a million of ways to use
them! Although the game is not in real time, you will often need to
perform an action fast or combine two of your characters in order to solve
a puzzle. Reaching a dead end is a possibility, but it's not as frequent
as most people think, as some puzzles have multiple solutions. For
example, there is a way to escape prison if one of your players gets
caught. Of course, it would be a good idea not to push your luck by
destroying or consuming any objects you possess. Your actions depend on the
two friends you chose at the beginning. So don't worry if you have a radio
to fix and no electronics freak; there is always another way of solving
the problem! Your players can die in the game. Although I've been told
that it is possible for the game to be completed with only two players,
I'm kind of skeptical about it, so save often.

Summary
An absolute classic. Play it if you want to find out how it all began.. or
if you feel like challenging yourself with an adventure game that cannot
be completed within two days.



Category list.

Alphabetical list.