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Zak McKracken is a tabloid reporter (and not a very good one at that). After having a psychedelic dream one day, Zak realizes that something is wrong -- space aliens are dumbifying the general public through the telephone system. Zak must stop this, but he can't do it alone. After finding a strange crystal, Zak manages to get the help of the anthropologist Annie and her friends, Melissa and Leslie. The four unlikely heroes must now figure out a way to destroy the dumbifying devices and save the Earth.

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders is a third-person puzzle-solving adventure similar in gameplay to Maniac Mansion. The player chooses verb commands (Open, Pick Up, Give, etc.; there are no Look or Talk commands) to interact with the game world. The game features up to four controllable protagonists; it is possible to switch between them at any time after they have been introduced, and also exchange inventory items if the characters are in the same location. The game can be described as a "globe-trotting" adventure, since the heroes are required to travel to different exotic countries and even leave the Earth for a while in order to complete it. Some of the puzzles are optional or can be solved in different ways.

The FM Towns version has VGA graphics with 256 colors and higher-quality music and sound effects.

GOG release comes with two versions of the game that install simultaneously. One is FM Towns version with updated graphics, while the other is marked as Floppy version which is the old DOS version of a game.


Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders DOS Near Stonehenge
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Windows A look at the aliens (GOG release, FM Towns version)
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Commodore 64 Title screen
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Commodore 64 In the phone company building, home to evil aliens bent on taking over our planet...

Promo Images

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Other
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Other
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Screenshot
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders Magazine Advertisement

Alternate Titles

  • "Zak McKracken and the Alien Mind Benders" -- Alternate spelling
  • "Zak McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders" -- Commonly-misspelled title
  • "ザックマックラッケン" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Look behind you, a two-headed squirrel! DOS Katakis | カタキス (42933)
The mother of all point-n-click adventures to come. DOS András Gregorik (65)
Hard call... Zak is solid in many aspects, and lackluster in many others. DOS Zovni (10623)
Martian Time Slip Commodore 64 MasterMegid (902)
Excellent- in its day. DOS Joey Zamingo (83)
The first (and best) game I ever played. LOVE IT. DOS Chris Tolworthy (18)
One of the forgotten SCUMM games, but its still one of the best Commodore 64 Scott G (792)
A truly great game. Very well done. DOS Mirrorshades2k (282)

Critic Reviews

Jeuxvideo.com Commodore 64 Mar 12, 2010 18 out of 20 90
The Games Machine (UK) Commodore 64 Mar, 1989 81 out of 100 81
Commodore Computing International Commodore 64 Feb, 1989 80 out of 100 80
Adventure Advocate DOS Apr 20, 2007 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Adventure Gamers DOS Nov 24, 2006 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Retrogaming History DOS Jan 10, 2009 8 out of 10 80
ST/Amiga Format Atari ST Apr, 1989 71 out of 100 71
Atari ST User Atari ST May, 1989 7 out of 10 70
PC Games (Germany) DOS Jan, 1993 69 out of 100 69
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Commodore 64 Oct, 1988 Unscored Unscored


Topic # Posts Last Post
US version VS UK Version 4 Edwin Drost (4391)
Mar 10, 2017
A new Zak McKracken Remake Project 3 Игги Друге (46309)
Mar 03, 2008


1001 Video Games

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Copy protection

All versions of Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, except for the FM Towns release, require the player to enter copy protection codes when leaving the USA, but not when re-entering it or when at an airport in another country. After entering five incorrect entries in a row, Zak is put into Pirate Jail and the game is automatically over. The codes were printed on dark red paper in order to make it harder to copy them.

Concept and inspirations

David Fox wanted the game to have a "New Age" concepts like spirituality, Karma, alien history and he spent a few days brainstorming with a spiritual author - David Spangler. They came up with a list of every thing that might fit into the game and tried to get it all in, including the Face on Mars, Mt. Ranier, Mayan ruins. Names of the female characters came from designer's wives and girlfriends while Zak's name was taken from the Seattle's phone book. "No, there wasn't a Zak McKraken listed - we just pulled a first and last name that worked." - said David Fox in the interview for Retro Gamer 27.

The game took only nine months to complete from initial design to the final version.


The first fan project to enter development was "Zak McKracken 2", later renamed Zak McKracken and the Alien Rockstars, which was started in 1996. Because a lot of people joined and left the team over the course of its development, the game progressed slowly, to the point where it disappeared completely in 2001. In 2005 it was re-announced as a new project, being re-developed from scratch. The project was eventually cancelled in 2008, however, as the developers felt that Zak McKracken: Between Time and Space, a fangame that had been released in the meantime, was good enough to warrant abandoning their own project. One of the game's official websites has been archived, allowing players to download the project's original German tech-demo, however their other, zak2.de, was lost due to the use of a robots.txt file, which actively prevented its archival.

The New Adventures of Zak McKracken is an Adventure Game Studio remake developed by LucasFan Games.

Zak McKracken: Between Time and Space was started in 2001 by fans who thought that the Zak McKracken and the Alien Rockstars project detailed above was dead. It was ultimately released in 2008

Zak Mckracken and the Lonely Sea Monster, an Adventure Game Studio remake was first announced for a July 2007 release, however it was subsequently delayed until 2008. After several years the project was confirmed to be abandoned in 2010. As of December of 2012, however, the original developer has resumed development.

Platform differences

The game was made with three different styles of graphics: the Commodore 64 multicolor style (low resolution using 256 characters and 16 colors), the higher resolution 16 color version that uses bitmaps and finally the 256 color version (same style as Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure) which seems to have only been released in Japan on the Fujitsu FM Towns system.


A poster of one of LucasFilm's early games, Rescue on Fractalus!, can be seen in the machine room next to a map of Earth. Like Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, it was also designed by David Fox. In the FM Towns version the Rescue on Fractalus! poster was replaced by a poster for Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, another game David Fox was involved with alongside Ron Gilbert.

During the scene on Mars, the tune heard when playing the music cassette in the radio is by "Razor and the Scumettes". Razor is one of the original characters in Maniac Mansion, a LucasArts adventure game released the previous year.

There's a can of gasoline to be found on Mars. If the player tries to pick it up the character says it's for a different game. This is a nod to the red herring in Maniac Mansion, where there's a chainsaw in the kitchen but it's out of gas... and there is no gas in that game.

When reading the telephone inside the The Phone Company's office, it will show a four digit telephone number. This number can be called from Zak's house and a sales representative will pick up. He'll think that it is Edna again, a reference to the player calling Edna in Maniac Mansion.


  • Commodore Format
    • July 1991 (Issue 10) - listed in the A to Z of Classic Games article (Great)
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1989 - Best Graphics Adventure in 1988
    • Issue 04/1989 - Game of the Year 1988 (Readers' Vote)
  • ST Format
    • January 1990 (issue #06) - Included in the list 50 Games of the Year
    • January 1991 (issue #18) – #5 Best Adventure Game in 1990 (Atari ST)
Information also contributed by Daniel Albu, Kevin Carnes, MAT, Mirrorshades2k, Scott G, and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

Related Web Sites

  • HighLand Productions (Contains MIDI versions of themes from some LucasArts games, including Zak McCracken.)
  • LucasArts' Secret History (A multi-article feature about the game by the LucasArts news site, The International House of Mojo. The feature article includes an unscored review, short responses written by members of the site's community, trivia, and a transcription of the original hint book.)
  • ScummVM (Get "Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders", as well as many other adventure games, to run on modern systems by using ScummVM, a legal and free program.)
  • The Adventure Games Hall of Fame (Short review, walkthrough and screenshots.)
  • The Zak McKracken Archive (The world's largest collection of Zak McKracken materials)
Contributed to by Olivier Masse (449), POMAH (66352), Rebound Boy (19594), click here to win an iPhone9SSSS (2286), Terok Nor (32571) and Belboz (6576)
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