Welcome to my Maniac Mansion fan site!
Maniac Mansion is one of my favourite computer games of all time, and this site is completely dedicated to it.
My site is mainly destined to people who are already fans of the game, and as such, it is full of spoilers. The only spoiler-free sections are this one and the "Versions" section. So if you are new to Maniac Mansion and want your gaming pleasure to be left intact, don't visit the other sections and go play the game instead!
The story is a parody of horror B-movies. You control teenager Dave Miller and two of his friends. You are on a mission to rescue Dave's girlfriend, Sandy, who has been kidnapped to the mansion of Dr.Fred, a mad scientist.
Dr.Fred is under the influence of a purple evil meteor which landed near his mansion twenty years ago and has controlled his life ever since. Dr.Fred now wants to dominate the world, and, for some unclear reason, needs the fresh brains of teenagers to do this.
It is up to you to infiltrate his mansion, avoid getting caught by Dr.Fred's family, gain entrance to the secret lab and save Sandy!
Originally released in 1987, Maniac Mansion was a groundbreaking game in many respects.
Back then, most computer adventure games used a parser to let the player type on the keyboard what he wanted his character to do. This often resulted in a frustrating experience in which the player had to struggle to figure out what the program wanted to see (for example, phrases like "open door with key" or "use key in door" wouldn't work if the computer only wanted "unlock door with key", even though all of these phrases describe the same action).
When budding game programmer Ron Gilbert was hired by Lucasfilm Games (now LucasArts) and got the green light to create his own adventure game, he didn't want the player to struggle with the parser anymore. He created a tool to allow the player, using a mouse, to choose from a set of common verbs displayed at the bottom of the screen, and combine them with the items and characters displayed in the game. This allowed the player to easily build sentences that the computer would always understand. He named this tool SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) which Lucasfilm would keep using for ten more years.
Maniac Mansion was also one of the very first games featuring "cut-scenes", scenes that cut away from the action to let you know what's going on in a different part of the game, providing background information or clues. The term was coined by the Maniac Mansion team. Nowadays this feature has become a staple of adventure games and RPGs.
Last but not least, Maniac Mansion featured different playable characters with different abilities, different ways to solve the game, and different endings. While this (unfortunately) didn't really catch on in later adventure games, it is definitely part of what made Maniac Mansion special.
What makes Maniac Mansion so good
Maniac Mansion is a clever mix of horror and comedy. It's tense enough to keep you on your toes and make you jump when you unexpectedly bump into Dr.Fred's family while exploring the mansion, and funny enough to keep it light-hearted and make you laugh.
The different characters, different ways to solve the game and different endings make it unbelievably replayable for an adventure game, a genre that is usually known for its low replayability. Once you beat it with one set of characters, you will want to see how you can beat it with another, and how you can get a different ending. There are little secrets everywhere, so much that I kept discovering new tidbits about the game years after first completing it.
Maniac Mansion has black comedy moments and it is often random and unpredictable. It is clear when you play it that the developers had a great deal of freedom to make it, the kind of freedom they probably wouldn't get if they made the game today. Nowadays, most adventure games are much more streamlined and "safe". When you play Maniac Mansion for the first time, you can never guess what's going to happen next... because pretty much anything can happen, and that makes it a wacky, unforgettable gaming experience.
Designed and written by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick
Scripted by Ron Gilbert and David Fox
Programmed by Aric Wilmunder and Ron Gilbert
Graphic art and animations by Gary Winnick
Original music by Chris Grigg and David Lawrence
Where to find Maniac Mansion
Maniac Mansion is a great but old game, and it can be difficult nowadays to find a first-hand copy.
Some budget compilations featuring Maniac Mansion among other classic games exist, though these have also become a rarity by now. You may find a second-hand copy of the game on auction websites. Unfortunately the Nes version is by far the easiest to find, and I urge you not to get that one. Read the "Versions" section to find out why.
Update: Maniac Mansion is also available as a bonus in "Day of the Tentacle" (see below). With the 2016 rerelease of Day of the Tentacle on PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, you can now much more easily play it!
Day of the Tentacle
In 1993, a loose "sequel" was released, named Day of the Tentacle. I put "sequel" between quotation marks because, although it's an enjoyable game, it is only loosely based on Maniac Mansion:
- It was not designed by the same people.
- It is very different in terms of tone, gameplay, atmosphere and humour.
- You only play with one set of characters, there is only one way to beat the game, and there is only one ending, making it a much more streamlined game.
In fact, the only true similarity with Maniac Mansion is that some of the original characters are featured in it, namely Bernard, Dr.Fred's family, and the two tentacles.
A TV series very loosely based on the game ran for three seasons between 1990 and 1993. Apart from a few very superficial similarities, the game and the series have absolutely nothing in common.
All the original written content on this site (i.e. content that is not quoted from the game or its official documentation) was written by ManiacMansionFan. Please do not distribute or reproduce it anywhere without his explicit permission.
This site is NOT endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. or LucasArts Ltd. It is a non-profit site made by a fan for fans, for entertainment and information purposes only. Maniac Mansion and all Maniac Mansion related characters and items are registered trademarks and/or copyrights of Lucasfilm Ltd. or LucasArts Ltd., or their respective trademark and copyright holders.