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Maniac Mansion

Entry updated 8 May 2015. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (1987). Lucasfilm Games. Designed by Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick. Platforms: AppleII, C64, DOS (1987); Amiga, AtariST, NES (1988).

Maniac Mansion is a graphical Adventure game which parodies 1950s sf B-movies in a not dissimilar manner to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It introduced several innovations to Adventure design, including a choice of playable characters and the combination of a simple verb- and noun-based point-and-click interface with animated characters. The game begins after the sinister Dr Edison has kidnapped Dave Miller's girlfriend, Sandy, and taken her to his mansion, where he intends to experiment on her brain. The player chooses two of Dave's friends to accompany him, and the three characters set out to rescue Sandy. Gameplay concentrates on exploring the mansion and solving its often humorous puzzles, though the occasional appearance of non-interactive scenes showing Dr Edison at work adds a degree of narrative tension. Ultimately it emerges that the doctor is being mentally controlled by an evil meteor, which the player must defeat. The plot is multilinear (see Interactive Narrative), with several possible endings, depending on the player's actions and initial choice of characters. For example, one of Dave's friends can summon the Meteor Police to arrest the monster, while another can expose it to the world by arranging for the publication of its autobiography. From the player's first sight of the mansion's menacing sign "Warning!! Trespassers will be horribly mutilated" to the final triumph over Purple Meteor, Maniac Mansion is infallibly amusing.

Related works: Maniac Mansion Deluxe (2004 Lucasfan Games, Win) is an amateur remake which adds some minor improvements while remaining faithful to the original. Maniac Mansion (1990-1993) is a Television series featuring a new Dr Edison, grandson of the original, who has inherited the mansion and accidentally mutated his family. The series is much more family-oriented than the game, lacking any equivalents of the original Dr Edison's sadomasochistic wife and insane survivalist son. [NT]


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