Throughout the history of video games we have come across proposals of all kinds, including some that have managed to mark a before and after due to the mechanics they presented or other very innovative details that were used for their development. That is certainly something that Lucasfilm Games achieved in the 1980s with Maniac Mansion.
The mythical graphic adventure is probably one of the most popular that exists, despite the fact that they have passed 35 years since its publication. Even so, after so many years and with a sequel behind it just as well-known as the original title, the series has completely disappeared, hence the time has come to ask ourselves what happened to Maniac Mansion?
A crazy gameplay that managed to make history
To talk about this game we must take a trip to the past, to 1987 specifically, which was when this graphic adventure was initially released on Commodore 64 before it went on sale a few months later on PC, although the most curious thing of all is that it was also released for the NES and the Amiga. Behind its development were the brilliant minds of Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbertalso known for being the father of Monkey Island.
The programming behind this work was quite a revolution for its time because those responsible wanted to show that graphic adventures could tell their stories in other ways, hence an engine created specifically for it: SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion). Without a doubt, this tool was one of the biggest reasons why the game made history by completely changing the way in which the screens were presented when playing.
For this, in the interface we could observe multitude of actions to carry out in the form of orders for the characters to carry them out. We could tell them to pick up, open, close or pull something, among many others. In addition, to this was also added the fact that we could click on places on the screen so that the characters interact with elements of the environment and we could even click on the screen so that they move through the environment from one place to another.
All this made maniac mansion It was so special, although not the only reason, because its plot and its way of telling it was not far behind at all. So we had before us an adventure filled with a crazy sense of humor that took place in the Edison family mansion, where a meteorite crashed into it, causing the behavior of its residents to change completely and they became crazier with the aim of sucking brains for their strange experiments.
Then there is a jump in time of 20 years and everything begins when Sandy, the girlfriend of Dave, our young protagonist, has been kidnapped by the Edisons. This will lead Dave to enter her mansion to rescue her from her, although for this he will have the help of a couple of friends out of a total of six that we can opt for. Yes indeed, each one has certain exclusive abilities that will be conditions when solving the puzzles.
Therefore, this means that there is no one way to progress in certain sections, which will also affect the multiple endings of the game. Likewise, the entire plot is clearly inspired by the B-series horror movies of that time and that they will give the environment a somewhat sinister touch, due to the behavior of the Edisons and their particular decoration of the rooms, but also because of things as surprising as a pair of talking tentacles with a life of their own.
The game in general must be recognized that it was developed with a great sense of humor due to the dialogues and the bizarre situations that can be triggered. Without going any further, one of the ends is to call the Meteorite Police to arrest the meteorite that has caused all this catastrophe, although it can also happen that one of the characters dies due to certain decisions that we makewhich entails having to choose another of the remaining protagonists to take their place, so that if they all die, the game is over.
A simply outstanding sequel
The first maniac mansion It was so well received that the LucasArts team wanted to work on a sequel called Day of the Tentacle (The Day of the Tentacle in Spain). In this case, it came six years later and it has also become one of the most emblematic adventures that exist and is even considered one of the best in history due to its plot, gameplay, its artistic section, etc.
Something that it had in common with its predecessor is that it made use of the SCUMM engine and also allowed us to use three different characters from start to finish. Precisely one of them is Bernard, the typical nerd who appeared in the original title and who was now accompanied by his friends Hoagie and Laverne to go back into the Edison family mansion.
The reason is because on the outskirts of the house there is a liquid that has been spilled into the river and it is quite toxic, but the Purple Tentacle (present in the previous maniac mansion) drinks it and gets arms, which for some reason makes him powerful enough to try to carry out his Machiavellian plan to take over the world. That is why the trio of protagonists go to the Edison mansion to find a way to prevent that from happening.
For this, the protagonists will try to travel back in time in some latrines that Dr. Fred has designed, although these require the use of a diamond to work. The problem is that the mad scientist uses an imitation one and everything goes wrong, transporting Hoagie 200 years into the past and Laverne another 200 years into the future, while Bernard stays in the present. From that moment on, the three characters must collaborate with each other to meet again.
The main characteristic of these temporary trips affects the fact that something that happens in the past will affect the other time lines, as it happens with certain objects, so you have to be constantly interacting with the trio of “heroes” with the in order to get a source of energy that can restart the so-called Cron-O-Latrines. All this with an even crazier and more comical plot than in the previous one maniac mansion.
In fact, the graphic section, the conversations and all the events have a more comical, friendly and familiar touch, to the point that no one can die here. There are also all kinds of references to other LucasArts works and at a certain point in the adventure you can play the first maniac mansionwhich means that from a certain point of view you got a 2×1 with The Day of the Tentacle.
Its reception was so good that LucasArts was encouraged to bring the game back in 2016 with a remastering that considerably improved its entire visual section, without neglecting the charm that made it so special in the 90s.
Will we go back to the Edison mansion?
With the saga just turning 35 and with the almost 30 years that have passed since its second part, When will the time come to see a third installment? It certainly won’t be because fans of the series haven’t requested it many times, which has led many to develop their own unofficial sequels, including Return of the Tentacle – Prologue, available for free download.
Nor would it be unreasonable to think that a maniac mansion 3, because if this year we have witnessed the launch of Return to Monkey Island, why not do the same with this other iconic saga? What’s more, even Ron Gilbert himself spoke a few months ago about the possibility of developing a remastering of the first maniac mansionadding very important changes.
Its creator stated that 50% of the new puzzles could be designed for the occasion and even add an additional character, but for the moment everything has remained a wish and nothing more. What is clear is that if the project went ahead, the prayers of many people would be fulfilled, despite the fact that what is most requested is a continuation and not a renewed version of the previous adventures, something that would also be welcomed with open arms. .
The genre of graphic adventures has not been forgotten and continues to leave us with fantastic proposals, although it would be nice if maniac mansion will return in some way so that many current players can better understand the roots of this genre and one of the sagas that has made history for its mechanics, characters and sense of humor.