Maniac Mansion

aka: MM
Moby ID: 714
Apple II Specs
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Description official descriptions

The Edison mansion has always been a creepy old house on the edge of town. There have been rumors of strange experiments going on and of odd creatures living amongst the Edison family. There is even a story that a meteorite once crashed near the home nearly 20 years ago. More immediately, a girl named Sandy has gone missing from the local highschool and her boyfriend Dave swears that he saw Dr. Fred abducting her. Dave knows that he cannot do it alone and will need help from two other students if he has any hope of infiltrating the mansion and rescuing Sandy.

Players start by choosing two students to accompany Dave to the Edison mansion, and can then switch between these three characters at will. Most actions are carried out by selecting verbs on the screen and applying them to an object (such as "OPEN Door"). Each character maintains a separate personality and may have a different way to solve a problem from his classmates. Thus many of the puzzles can be overcome in different ways depending on the character being used. If any one of the kids are captured by the Edisons, they are thrown into the dungeon and must be rescued themselves by any character who still has their freedom.

GOG release includes both Original and Enhanced game versions.

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Credits (Apple II version)

22 People (20 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

Produced by the
  • Lucasfilm Games Division
Created and Designed by
Programmed by
Graphic Art and Animation by
Sound Effects by
Original Music by
Apple Conversion Special Support by
Creative and Technical support by
Lucasfilm Games General Manager
Production and Marketing Management by
Administrative Support by
Lead Playtester
Special thanks to
  • The many other playtesters; especially Tom and Darrell
  • George Lucas
Box Cover Art by
Package and manual designed by
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 53 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 282 ratings with 16 reviews)

New kind of game and one of the best point and click adventures

The Good
The teenage humour and the friendliness of the game. You can die, but not easily. The real challenge is the quirky problem solving. For this game, the point and click, verb choice system is at least as good as the popular text parser system. The original version's graphics seem quite simplistic, even for the time, but it's interesting having an adventure game where the average person is quite large/tall i.e Sierra's adventures had long had quite a small average person size. I thought that while the problems' solutions were far from obvious and obviously quite silly, it's fun solving them and you can laugh with the game. The game has multiple successful endings giving it replayability, but I think the game is fun to replay even when aiming for the same ending.

The Bad
I think there could have been a few more pointers to guide you through the game, there's one particular part that had me completely stuck and I was a little annoyed when I found out the solution and what we the gamers were expected to figure out on our own. The problem could be quite easily fixed though.

The Bottom Line
So it's a fairly early point and click game, coming after ICOM's MacVenture series and after some of the Japanese point and click or menu choice adventure games (e.g Enix), but I think it's up there with others by LucasArts e.g LOOM and the Monkey Island games.

DOS · by Andrew Fisher (697) · 2018

One Great Game, and the first of the SCUMM era of Lucasfilm/Lucasarts games

The Good
A lot of creativity went into this game. Ron Gilbert had a lot of ideas on his first big project as a designer and creator. With his plan he needed to create the SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) engine so that people could interact with the game. This was innovative at the time it came out. There is no time limit to defeating this game, unlike many games that were out at the time.

There are 5 ways to beat this game, depending on who your other 2 characters are, another feat that was new for the time this game was released.

The sound is excellent in the NES version, one of the best sounding games in the NES, and the NES version your characters actually move faster.

The Bad
there are some items in the game that are entirely useless, such as broken bottles of ketchup or tentacle chow.

After playing the Commodore 64, DOS and NES versions, I would like to note they all have their tradeoffs.

Commodore 64, it takes forever to load in between screens (no wonder when it loads it has a small white snail on the target icon.

The DOS version has bad sound (DOS was primitive at the time, there was no sound blaster yet).

The NES version, while it is the best version of them all, the problem was Nintendo forced them to remove a lot of things from the game to make it cleaner. They had to remove the playboy calender, the nude statue, the Star Wars Poster, the surplus body parts, get rid of the Kill Thrill arcade game, change the Muff Diver Arcade game to Tuna Diver. A lot of the language had to be changed, such as "boy the meteor is going to be pissed" had to be changed to "boy the meteor is going to be maaaad," or Edna saying "How silly of me... I should have tied you up to my bed" had to be changed to "I have half a good mind to talk to my husband," or you can wait until the police arrive." Cousin Ted in the shower there is writing on the wall that says "For A Good Time - Edna ????" That had to be changed to "Call Edna ????" (the ???? are numbers). The only thing they didnt change was the fact you can microwave the hamster because Nintendo caught this after they were manufactured the cartridges (but it was taken out in the European version).

The Bottom Line
Great adventure game, you cant miss playing this game if you havent already done so. This is the king of Adventure games, and many games are modelled after the point and click that was designed under this game.

NES · by Scott G (765) · 2005

Ahhh, those were the days...

The Good
Aside from the unusual combination of characters that was akin to the classic bad B-film (from the musicians to the journalist to the techie to the surfer dude who did, well... no, I'm not going to spoil it :), it was also the first game that introduced me to the Lucasarts world and hooked me in straight.
The graphics, where everyone had big heads, and the people talked like it was out of a B-film (smileys all around). I enjoyed the clear-cut humor it gave me (not to mention the strange opening music and the many times I got to watch the mansion blow up in a five mile radius) and the odd combinations of things you could do. Even the fact that some of the ways you could die were incredible (toxic steam! AUUUUGH!) If you like a game that is based on movies that you have to stay up till five in the morning to watch, then by all means you'll enjoy this game at least for watching.

The Bad
Okay, I understand that back then mice were one of those rare devices, but mouse support would have been soooooo sweet, especially when avoiding all of those crazy Edison kinfolk. Aside from that, it had a high difficulty gradient; maybe it would be best if you watched this game rather than played it if you aren't accustomed to these sort of games.

One comment - DYING?? In a LUCASARTS game?????

The Bottom Line
Rough, but rewarding in the end. Always go for Bernard, baby!.

DOS · by Don Lee (8) · 2000

[ View all 16 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Famicom version -- new entry? Pseudo_Intellectual (66323) Jul 21, 2012

Trivia

1001 Video Games

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

Chuck the plant

In the mansion's library, there is an un-useable plant called "Chuck the Plant" The plant also appears in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in Henry's room, and Day of the Tentacle in the lobby.

Copy protection

The computer versions featured an humorous copy protection scheme. In a new game a player entered the house, walked upstairs and are confronted by a giant iron bolted door which opens after entering four correct symbols on the keypad as shown in "Nuke'm Alarms - Nukes Burglars in their tracks: Owner's Disarmament Quick Reference Guide" included with the game. The wrong answer proved fatal!

Day of the Tentacle

Maniac Mansion is included as a bonus game inside Day of the Tentacle (on Ed's computer).

Hamster in the microwave

Players can microwave the hamster in any of the computer releases (but not the European NES version), but they have to use a sick-minded character (such as Syd or Razor) when doing it. Showing the exploded hamster to Weird Ed will make him kill that character.

NES version

The game was ported not once, but twice, to the NES. One version was made in America, while another one was made by Jaleco in Japan. The two versions look very different. It was one of the very few NES games to be translated into Spanish.

Many things had to be censored/changed to comply with Nintendo's policies: * Some of the language was toned down, for example: "The meteor is going to be pissed" was changed to "The meteor is going to be mad." * The "KILL THRILL" arcade game was changed to "TUNA" * "For a good time EDNA 3444" was changed to "Call Edna 3444"

A complete list of changes and more info can be found at http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/maniac.html

In the European NES version, additionally the possibility to microwave the hamster was removed. In turn, at least in the German version, some linguistic points from the above list are closer to the original.

References

  • The name of Razor's punk band is "Razor and the Scummettes", a reference to the SCUMM graphical interface used by LucasArts adventures.
  • There is an X-Wing model in Ed's room.
  • The speakers in the green tentacle's room are "THX" sound speakers. THX is a high-quality sound technology developed by Lucasfilm.

Zak McKracken

Connections between Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken (based on Amiga version): * In the game room there's a Zak McKracken poster. * In Maniac Mansion there's a chainsaw that has no gas. In the game Zak McKracken there is a can of gas on Mars. The can reads, "For use with chainsaws only". When trying to pick it up the character says, "I don't need it. It's for a different game." * "Tuna head" is said in both games. One of the aliens in Zak McKracken is always saying, "Tum de dum." In Maniac Mansion when Weird Ed is walking through the kitchen to get his cheese he says, "Tum te dum." * It appears that Zak happens to be going out with Sandy from Maniac Mansion. In Zak McKracken, if players go away and come back home enough times and keep checking the answering machine they will soon get a message from Weird Ed from Maniac Mansion. He calls up about going to a monster truck show, and that he'll come by with Sandy at 6:00 in the Edsel. * In Zak McKracken, at the police station in Nepal: there is a wanted poster for the purple meteor.

Remake

The German LucasFan Games developed a freeware 256-colour remake called Maniac Mansion Deluxe.

TV series

The game spawned a comedy series on the Family Channel in the early 90's.

Awards

  • Commodore Format
    • April 1991 (Issue 7) - listed in the A to Z of Classic Games article (Great)
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 03/2013 – One of the "Ten Best C64 Games“
  • Happy Computer
    • Issue 01/1988 - Best Game Idea in 1987
  • Power Play
    • 1987 - #2 Best C64 Game '87

Information also contributed by Игги Друге, Der.Archivar, Garcia, Jason Harang, kelmer44, Hitman23, Ricky Derocher, Tiago Jacques, whatt, Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe

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  • MobyGames ID: 714
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tony Van.

Amiga added by POMAH. Commodore 64 added by Rebound Boy. Linux, Windows, Macintosh added by Sciere. NES added by jeremy strope. Antstream added by lights out party. Atari ST, Apple II added by Servo.

Additional contributors: Jason Harang, Jeanne, tFX, Shoddyan, Sciere, Pseudo_Intellectual, Ricky Derocher, Zeppin, Patrick Bregger, Maniac Mansion Fan, Izmir Egal, Fred Zanfardino, Victor Vance, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added January 10, 2000. Last modified April 1, 2024.