Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
Description official descriptions
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 Mind Benders - Alternate spelling
- ザックマックラッケン - Japanese spelling
Credits (Amiga version)
28 People (27 developers, 1 thanks) · View all
|Created and Designed by|
|Scripted and Programmed by|
|"SCUMM" Story System by|
|Background Art by|
|Character Animation by|
|Sound Effect by|
|Original Music by|
|Amiga Version By|
|Creative and Technical Support by|
|Project Directed by|
|Lucasfilm Games General Manager|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 82% (based on 37 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 179 ratings with 8 reviews)
When I was around 12 and this game first made a splash on the scene, I pretty much became obsessed with it. It was nothing I've experienced before on my trusty C64: its breadth and atmosphere felt just surreal. I could submerge in it for entire weekends. Granted, I used to progress awfully slowly in adventure games, prone to savour and take in every new location for quite a while.
On a less personal note, this game was the first truly accomplished, epic point-n-click adventure game -- or 'arcade adventure' as we called them back then. It really gave Sierra a run for their money by taking to the next level everything the then-simplistic Quest franchise stood for.
It had heartfelt dialogs, an intricate if goofy plot, plenty of good ideas and in-jokes, loads of locations, and even a catchy theme song. In other words, it was a cut above the Quest series it was designed to challenge.
Significantly, it also directly paved the way for the more sophisticated Monkey Island duo by boldly experimenting with the SCUMM design system.
The maze scenes; these were obvious fillers in a game that didn't need filler material.
Also, if you're much older than 12 or 13 -- which I think was my age at the height of my Zak fandom --, you might find the plot and the characters a tad too juvenile.
The Bottom Line
Lucasfilm's adventure department evolved in leaps and bounds after this game, releasing a classic a year, so in retrospect their 1988 effort may not look much.
But as the first Lucasfilm adventure game that requires more than just a casual approach, Zak McKracken's spot is forever secured in the annals as an important release.
DOS · by András Gregorik (59) · 2014
The story was hilarious. This game will make you laugh -- guaranteed.
The adventure part is well done, too. It is somewhat like a RPG, in the sense that it is a bit non-linear and that there are multiple solutions or workarounds to puzzles (i.e. you can either pay your phone bill or use the computer to fix it).
If you're not careful, you can get yourself into an unwinable state. And you'd never know, because you can keep on playing forever. So save your game!
The Bottom Line
Under-rated and almost totally forgotten, but I guarantee you'll like it.
DOS · by Mirrorshades2k (274) · 2000
1. Funny 2. Educational (sort of! - see below) 3. Non-violent 4. Great female characters 5. Suitable for slower players as well. My young kids have trouble with games like Monkey Island (because the sword fighting routines require a lot of reading) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (because it requires skill in boxing) but this game can be taken as slow as you like. Only the egg on the plane and the blue crystal have any time limit, and these are not too difficult to master. 6. Incredibly efficient coding. The whole thing fits uncompressed on one low density floppy. 7. Versions for all major platforms (at the time) and almost any speed of machine. Good use of the inbuilt sound card.
1. A couple of the puzzles are hard for non-Americans (e.g. the waste disposal unit and mailbox are not familiar items in Britain), but this is probably true for any game. 2. The codes and all the travelling can be a little tedious (but not much) - like any adventure game, much of your time is spent travelling back and forth to try different ideas. 3. If you have an old game and have lost the printed codes, you cannot travel to most of the destinations.
The Bottom Line
Fun, hard to get killed, and easy to like.
DOS · by Chris Tolworthy (18) · 2000
|US version VS UK Version||Edwin Drost (7569)||Mar 10th, 2017|
|A new Zak McKracken Remake Project||Joey DiPerla||Mar 3rd, 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.
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.
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)
Related Sites +
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.
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
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Olivier Masse.
Game added October 5th, 1999. Last modified August 20th, 2023.