After posting about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I thought I would take a walk down the list of LucasArts adventure games that I have played. Maniac Mansion is the first game that comes to mind for many people when they think of LucasArts adventure games – though it was actually the second adventure game release by LucasArts (Labyrinth being the first) and it was the third LucasArts adventure game that I ever played.
The story of the game is that you are “Dave Miller”, a teenage boy who needs to venture into a mansion in order to rescue your missing / kidnapped girlfriend “Sandy Pantz”. The mansion in question belongs to an eccentric family – called the Edisons – who have become increasingly strange in the past 20 years, after a purple meteor fell in their front yard. You have to explore the house, try to rescue Sandy, and try not to get caught in the process.
Maniac Mansion was pretty amazing for its time – and still has some unique aspects to it. The first one that comes to my mind is that this is a rare LucasArts adventure game that allows you to die – most other ones protect you from death and do not allow you to get stranded.
Next is the fact that Maniac Mansion allows you to choose a team of three players from a potential list of 7 total (though one of these – Dave – is always selected) and the options available to you for completing the game vary on the characters that you choose.
Third is the fact that Maniac Mansion was the first LucasArts game to use the “SCUMM” engine (SCUMM stands for “Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion”) that would be used for most of the following LucasArts adventure games.
And fourth is the fact that Maniac Mansion was originally developed for the Commodore 64 – which was my original computer system – and then later ported to the PC (and many other platforms).
Maniac Mansion runs “okay” under Virtual PC, with a couple of caveats:
The first one is that I could not get the mouse to work, and had to use the keyboard. I have vague memories of using a mouse with this game – but when I tried running it on physical hardware I could not get the mouse to work there either. So I am not quite sure what is happening there.
The second is that the sound is fairly ghastly. That said – the sound is not much better on physical hardware. Maniac Mansion attempts to perform the old-school feat of “playing music through the PC speaker by playing lots of short beeps quickly” and Virtual PC cannot quite keep up. But this is not too bad as sound is used sparingly and Virtual PC is able to convey the basic gist of the original sound.
UPDATE: I got the mouse to work! All you have to do is press “Shift + M” after starting the game to enable the mouse. Being an old game the mouse is not enabled by default.