Maniac Mansion

For: Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles

Genres

Main Genre:
Adventure
Sub-Genre:
Puzzle Solving
Perspective:
3rd-Person

Overview

IBM EGA/VGA version of Maniac Mansion
IBM EGA/VGA version of Maniac Mansion
Maniac Mansion is an adventure game first released in 1987 by Lucasfilm Games. In the game the player controls Dave Miller and two of his friends (which can be selected from a total of six) with the goal of rescuing Dave's girlfriend from a mad scientist. Gameplay is nonlinear, and the solution to some of the puzzles will depend on which characters the player has selected. Unusual for the time, the game utilized a point-and-click interface instead of typed commands to make gameplay easier and less frustrating. A sequel, called Day of the Tentacle, was released in 1993. Maniac Mansion was the first game developed by Lucasfilm Games that they also published themselves.

Story and Gameplay

Sandy, Dave's girlfriend, has been kidnapped and is being held hostage in a mysterious mansion! Dave, along with two of his friends (which are selected by the player), need to break in to the mansion and rescue her. The house belongs to Dr. Fred, who is a retired physician turned mad scientist. A mysterious meteor is controlling his mind, causing him to become evil and attempt to take over the world for the meteor. Throughout the game there are short cut-scenes which show players what is going on in other parts of the mansion; these scenes can provide clues, advance the story, or warn when one of the mansion's inhabitants is approaching.

Maniac Mansion uses a point-and-click interface to interact with the game. Along the bottom of the screens are a series of actions along with the player's inventory. By clicking on verbs, objects, locations, or inventory items, a sentence can be constructed which causes the selected character to perform the action.

Aside from the point-and-click interface, Maniac Mansion also set itself apart from other adventure games of the era by making it difficult for characters to be killed or become stuck in an unwinnable situation. While both were possible, it wasn't very common and usually required deliberate and obvious actions by the player. This contrasts with many adventures, such as those by Sierra On-Line, where characters could die unpredictably by picking up a dangerous item or falling over the edge of the scenery. Included in the available actions is a 'What is' action; this allows players to determine what objects on the screen are without having to guess (due to the limited graphics resolution, small objects could be difficult to discern). Lucasfilm Games would continue to use these design philosphies in their following adventure games.

The Characters

Cutscenes show non-playable characters around the house
Cutscenes show non-playable characters around the house
Maniac Mansion features numerous characters, some playable and others computer controlled. During the game the player controls three characters; Dave is always a selected character, and the player can choose any two of the remaining playable characters. Each character has a different personality and skills which can have an impact on the game. Based on the characters chosen, the solution to certain puzzles can vary or some puzzles may not be solvable at all and the player will need to find a different route to the end.

Playable Characters
  • Dave Miller: Dave is Sandy's boyfriend and organizer of the rescue effort. He is always a selected character and doesn't have any notable skills or weaknesses.
  • Syd: An aspiring musician, Syd has the same skills as Razor. He can play the piano.
  • Michael F. Stoppe: An award winning photographer, Michael has the ability to develop film.
  • Wendy: Wendy wants to be a famous novelist and is skilled at writing.
  • Bernard: President of the physics club and winner of the college's Geek Award. Bernard can fix things like the telephone and radio; he is also a coward and will run away from things such as the green tentacle.
  • Razor: Razor is the lead singer for the punk band 'Razor and the Scummettes'. She can play the piano.
  • Jeff Woodie: A surfer who usually hangs out at the beach. He is also able to fix the telephone.
Non-Playable Characters
  • Sandy Pantz: Dave's girlfriend; she has been kidnapped by Dr. Fred and is being held in the mansion.
  • Dr. Fred: A retired physician, Dr. Fred is the mad scientist who has kidnapped Sandy. He is the main antagonist and is being controlled by the meteor.
  • Nurse Edna: A retired nurse and Dr. Fred's wife. She is often found in the mansion and any characters that run into her will be thrown in the dungeon.
  • "Weird" Ed: The son of Fred and Edna. Ed is obsessed with the military and is particularly fond of his pet hamster. While Ed is initially a threat and will lock characters in the dungeon, it is possible for some characters to become friends with him.
  • Ted: A dead cousin of the family, he is a mummy and still is in the mansion.
  • Green Tentacle: A disembodied tentacle living in Dr. Fred's house. Green tentacle doesn't like the meteor being in the house and it is possible to make friends with it.
  • Purple Tentacle: A disembodied tentacle, the purble tentacle is Dr. Fred's henchman. It is usually guarding the entrance to Dr. Fred's lab, and will also throw characters in the dungeon if it catches them.
  • The Meteor: A sentient piece of rock. The meteor is attempting to take control of the Earth and is controlling Dr. Fred's mind to do so. The meteor is wanted by the Meteor Police for unspecified crimes.
  • The Meteor Police: An alien police force who are attempting to capture the meteor.
  • Wink Smiley: A talk-show host for "The Late Show with Wink Smiley". He appears briefly in one of the possible game endings.
  • Mark Eteer: A publisher of books, music and video games for the company "3 guys who publish anything, Inc.". He appears in advertisements on the TV and can be contacted by mail.

IBM PC Versions

Two different versions of the game were released for IBM computers. The initial release had graphics that recreated the original Commodore 64 version and was limited to a resolution of 160x200. An enhanced version was released shortly after which featured 320x200 graphics similar to the Amiga and Atari ST versions. Both versions of the game featured the same gameplay, story, and puzzles; only the graphics and sound varied.

Related Games

Documentation

Instruction Manual
Apple II, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles
Original version

Marketing

Product catalogs, magazines, flyers, or other documentation Maniac Mansion has appeared in.
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Product Catalogs
Maniac Mansion in the Lucasfilm Games product catalog
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