1001 Video GamesZak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Copy protectionAll 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 inspirationsDavid 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.
FangamesThe 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 One of the game's official websites has been archived, allowing players to download the project's original German tech-demo, however their other, zak2.de, was lost due to the use of a robots.txt file, which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 differencesThe 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.
ReferencesA 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)