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)

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

A Fantastic Game for Those who GET IT!

The Good
What did I like about the game? Everything! In fact, it hurt a lot to read the comments of others (especially considering the poor use of grammar and spelling). So many people missed the point of the game: it's supposed to provide a good time. While others were busy nitpicking the "poor" graphics and bad story line, I was busy having a blast playing the game.

I don't simply like the game because it heralded a new era in graphic adventures. Why do you think all those other graphic adventures came after Maniac Mansion? Because of the precedence set by Maniac Mansion! Do you honestly believe that if Maniac Mansion was a poorly-conceived flop, other graphic adventures, such as the Monkey Island series, would have been released? No! Corporations may not always know what product will turn out to be good or bad until it's released, but sales figures and customer feedback doesn't lie! Maniac Mansion was a solid hit in 1987, and it has left a legacy still being felt today.

The game play is great! Even though the graphics were unrealistic, I was still panicking (and yes, putting an ING after panic includes a "k") when Weird Ed (one of the villains) comes down to get the door and I'm still in the living room.

The creators of "Monkey Island" didn't wake up to a comic epiphany in the middle of the night. The comic genius of the creators is very evident in Maniac Mansion, even though some of it is missing in the watered down NES version (by the way, there is much more to Maniac Mansion than you think. You should read "The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion" at http://dott.mixnmojo.com)

I can't say enough about the game.

The Bad
There's all sorts of reasons why people don't like the game, I'll describe the most common complaints:

THE GAME GRAPHICS ARE BAD! Well, no offense, but "DUH!" The game was made in 1987. Also, if some gamers find that graphics are the sole point of playing a game, then they should probably consider playing more "up to date," "shooter" games. The graphics adventure genre probably goes over their heads anyway.

THE PLOT'S STUPID! And so are the special effects on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Have many gamers missed the point? It's a PARODY of really bad teenage entertainment of the '80s (do I have to bring up "Hobgoblins?"). Obviously people associate bad graphics (due to being dated, not the fact that they were particularly bad in the first place) with a bad plot! If you're not looking for humor in a game, might I suggest "Loom?"

IT'S SO OLD! Well, granted there are nice things about games being new, but who says that old is the same as bad? Is the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" bad? Is the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo's "David" lame because they're aged?

The only complaint I've ever had about the game was the fact that you can waste certain objects that will become necessary in a future puzzle. This will just teach you to be careful and save the game often.

The Bottom Line
How would I describe this game to others? I don't know, let's see...will I have to use picture flashcards?

Some think that Maniac Mansion is remembered fondly because it brought about a new age in graphic adventures. On the contrary, Maniac Mansion was so GOOD that it was able to bring about a new age in graphic adventures. If Maniac Mansion really was as bad as some of these reviews describe, most of the games would have been banished to the backs of closets and landfills across the U.S. by now.

Serious graphics adventure gamers who are looking for a campy classic, listen up! Don't let the "McDonalds-esque" instant-gratification gamers deceive you! If you're looking for a solidly built graphic adventure from a long forgotten era where gameplay mattered more than whiz-bang special effects, THIS GAME IS FOR YOU! Get to eBay immediately and pick up a copy. You certainly won't break the bank, they only go for $3-4.

DOS · by X X (3) · 2002

The adventure game that makes no sense

The Good
In 1987, Lucasfilm released their first adventure called Maniac Mansion. It was also the debut of their SCUMM engine, which was superior to Sierra's AGI engine. As well as making it easier for designers, players could also select commands and objects on the screen, rather than entering them on the keyboard.

The story revolves around a meteor that has crash-landed near a mansion. Doctor Fred, the owner of the mansion, decides to bring it in from the cold and store it inside his “seckrit lab”. Since then, Fred does some strange things. First, he goes out and kidnaps a young girl, and hooks her up to his machine capable of turning innocent people into zombies. Then, he occupies himself with too much work, meaning that he doesn't leave his lab for years, even refusing to eat dinner with his own family. His bizarre behavior is affecting the entire family.

The news of the kidnapping reaches the girl's boyfriend, who comes to the rescue. Joining him are two of his friends. I like how you can play as different characters. You first start controlling Dave, who is the character that you play most of the time; but anytime during the game you are free to change to a different character and swap objects between the three of them. There are up to five other characters you can play, and all of them have different skills. For example, Syd and Razor both play a cool tune on the piano; and Bernard can put technology he finds to good use, such as the HAM radio).

How you treat the characters is up to you. You can rescue Sandy with all three kids intact, kill the main character and tough it out with just two kids, give the meteor a contact, or have him arrested. I actually played Maniac Mansion more than once just to watch each ending. Most of the endings are funny, especially the first one. I believe that multiple endings are hardly seen in any LucasArts game. Speaking of the characters, how they respond to you, as well as the others, is quite interesting to listen to: Edna with her sexually-suggestive comments, Weird Ed with his 'Tum de Dum' lines.

The graphics were good at the time. I like how the mansion is laid out, with at least two rooms on every floor. Apart from the second last floor, where Weird Ed and Nurse Edna live, you can just walk into any room and actually do something without getting caught. Everything, including the main characters, are quite colorful and animated nicely. I played the enhanced version, which looks much better than the original one.

Although there is little music in the game, the music is catchy. The sound effects are very basic, since everyone can only hear them through PC Speaker. The alarm that sounds when you turn the main power off sounds excellent, and what's funny about it is it sounds like a fire engine, and not a real alarm. I also enjoyed listening to the tunes that Syd and Razor uses the piano to belt out. The enhanced version sounds much better.

If you played any future LA games, then chances are that there is a fair bit of humor in Maniac Mansion. One example of such humor would be where you land yourself in the dungeon after being caught. Also, entering the wrong code for the big security door causes a nuclear meltdown. As I mentioned earlier, the endings are quite funny, especially if Doctor Fred gets involved.

The Bad
The “What is” command is useful for finding objects on the screen and using those in conjunction with the commands, but it doesn't help when you are in a dark room, where the light or lamp is already turned off. By selecting this command, you have to hunt for the light source, and this takes some time.

The Bottom Line
Maniac Mansion was not the first LA game that I played; that was Monkey Island 2. The first time I got to look at the game was from Day of the Tentacle, where you can access Ed's computer to play it. The one from DOTT uses Version 0 of the SCUMM engine, the same as the Commodore 64 version. This version had bland graphics compared to the 1989 remake of it.

Besides Zak McKracken, this is the only game that gives you the ability to control up to three characters during the game. As I mentioned before, each playable character has different skills, and because of this, Maniac Mansion can be replayed with different characters. Also, there are multiple endings, and most of these are worth watching.

If you enjoy playing LA games for their humor, then I recommend playing Maniac Mansion. you should get the 1989 version, as the graphics and sound are heaps better. I don't think that there are timer issues with it, so you should get it up and running on modern computers.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2008

[ View all 16 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Famicom version -- new entry? Pseudo_Intellectual (66360) 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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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tony Van.

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