Maniac Mansion is a 1987 graphic adventure game developed and published by Lucasfilm Games. Initially released for the Commodore 64 and Apple II, it was Lucasfilm's foray into video game publishing. The game follows teenager Dave Miller as he ventures into a mansion and attempts to rescue his girlfriend from an evil mad scientist, whose family has been controlled by a sentient meteor that crashed near the mansion 20 years earlier. The player uses a point-and-click interface to guide Dave and two of his friends through the mansion while avoiding its dangerous inhabitants and solving puzzles.
The game was conceived in 1985 by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. They based the story on horror film and B movie clichés with humorous elements, and they based the game's characters on people they knew and characters from movies, comics, and horror magazines. The developers based the mansion's design on the Main House at Skywalker Ranch, outlining the map and pathways prior to programming. The interface came from the designers' desire to improve on contemporary text parser-based graphical adventure games seen in earlier adventure titles. To reduce the effort required for creating the game, Gilbert implemented a game engine called SCUMM, which would be re-used for many other LucasArts titles. The game was ported to several other platforms; the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) version had to be considerably modified to follow Nintendo of America's content policies, which barred material deemed inappropriate for children.
Regarded as a seminal adventure title, Maniac Mansion was critically acclaimed; reviewers lauded its graphics, cutscenes, animation, and humor. Reviewers and other developers have considered its point-and-click interface revolutionary; the system has led competitors to adopt similar interfaces. The game influenced numerous other titles, has been placed in several 'hall of fame' lists, and has led fans to create remakes with enhanced visuals. A TV series, written by Eugene Levy and starring Joe Flaherty, was created in 1990 and lasted for three seasons, filming 66 episodes. Lucasfilm Games released the sequel Day of the Tentacle in 1993, which also received critical acclaim.
Maniac Mansion takes place in the mansion of the Edison family: Dr. Fred, Nurse Edna, and their son Weird Ed. Living with the Edisons are two large, disembodied tentacles – one purple and the other green. The intro sequence shows that a meteor crashed near the mansion twenty years earlier. The sentient meteor took control of the family and caused Dr. Fred to start sucking out human brains for use in experiments; his family supported and encouraged him in these efforts. One day, main protagonist Dave Miller's girlfriend, cheerleader Sandy Pantz, disappears without a trace, and he suspects that Dr. Fred has kidnapped her. After the game's introduction, Dave and his two companions prepare to enter the mansion to rescue Sandy; the game starts with a prompt for the player to select two of six characters to accompany Dave.
Maniac Mansion is a graphic adventure game in which the player uses a point-and-click interface to guide characters through a two-dimensional (2D) game world and to solve puzzles. Players can select from fifteen different commands with this scheme; examples include 'walk to', to move the characters; 'new kid', to switch between the three characters; and 'pick up', to collect objects. Each character possesses unique abilities; for example, Syd and Razor can play musical instruments, while Bernard can repair appliances. The game may be completed with any character combination, but because many puzzles can be solved only with specific skills, the game can be finished in different ways, depending on the characters the player has chosen.
The gameplay is regularly interrupted by cutscenes, a term Ron Gilbert coined, that advance the story and inform the player about non-player characters' actions. Aside from the green tentacle, the mansion's inhabitants pose a threat and will throw the player characters into the dungeon—or in some situations kill them—if they see them. If one character dies, the player must choose a replacement from the unselected characters; the game ends if all the characters die. Maniac Mansion has five possible successful endings that depend on which characters the player uses, which ones survive, and what events occur.
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