By Al Giovetti
Only slightly more than ten years after the introduction of Star Wars, the movie, Lucasfilm Games (now called Lucas Arts) released Maniac Mansion, the game to spawn a movie and a series of graphic animated adventure game successes streatching ten years into the future.
Company LineA meteor falls from the sky. Out of the meteor crawls aliens who are nothing more than large intelligent primary colored tenticles. The tenticles and the meteor enslave Dr. Fred and Nurse Edna and twist them to become fiends out of a monster movie. Even their house, the mansion, becomes maniacal. Into this chaotic fist scene bumbles a troop of teenagers. You get to choose three alter egos from a pool of five teenagers all with their own special skills and attributes.
Depending upon the group you choose the puzzles in the game can be different For example, Wendy, the budding novelist, can use the typewriter on the third floor to solve on puzzle, but Razor, the young female rock musician cannot type her way out of a paper bag. The puzzles are the treasure hunt type where you collect tons of artifacts and hope that you can use them later on. Other characters include Syd, Dave and Sandy.
The interface has the menu commands and scrolling inventory in the small area at the bottom of the screen while the majority of the screen area at the top is reserved for the third person side view of the environment. The mansion must be explored and it is very large as is the script since it was written to accomodate multiple solutions to the same problems.
Many sight gags abound in the game including movie posters of Star Wars and other Lucas triumphs. Most of the humor comes from the well written script which seems to have a mind of its own.
Another landmark feature is that characters cannot die. When caught by the bad guys, the characters are incarcerated in a stone chamber marked "Seckrit Lab -."
The graphics are overall quite nice but are at a low level of pixels and a maximum of 16 colors.
AnimationThe animation of the main characters is very primitive and looks like colored bricks walking. Cut scenes carry out the commands given by the game player. The characters on the screen act out the command optionally. Should you want to prempt the animation you only need to enter another command.
Music ScoreOther than the introductory music, there is no music during the game play sequences.
Sound EffectsThere are crickets, water running noises when you turn on faucets, radio static, Fred's grandfather clock ticks, and very few other sound effects.
UtilitiesYou can save the game at any point during game play.
Multi-player FeaturesThis is a single player game
Cheats, Hints, Walkthrough
ReferencesCharles Ardai, Computer Gaming World, number 47, May, 1988, pg. 40 - 41.