Maniac Mansion

By RoyalRanger

Maniac Mansion was an Adventure/RPG game originally created by Lucasarts for the PC. This version had eventually become a hit, so the designers decided to port the game to the NES with the help of a publishing contract with Jaleco. Nintendo's strict game censorship forced Lucasarts to remove many items from the game, but they were lucky enough to still manage to finish a full version of Maniac Mansion for the NES.

Oddly enough, the story to this game is... odd. Seriously. One score and zero years ago (For those of you who don't know, that means twenty years ago), a meteor strangely landed near the Edison mansion. Ever since then, Dr. Fred had been under the meteor's control, with desires to take over the world (or maybe to just get feared by the pizza man). Dr. Fred kidnapped a cheerleader named Sandy with the intent of sucking her brains out. The plot just keeps expanding like that as you play the game, so you have to play it to find out what happens. Or you can just be a lazy bum and read a FAQ to find out, but hey, that ruins the experience!

Maniac Mansion is a point-and-click type of game. In other words, it uses a mouse pointer without the mouse. You have to choose two characters to use in the game, along with Dave (Sandy's boyfriend); the characters to choose from have different abilities, which can make the game unique each time you play. After the game has started, you can move and give commands (like "Pull" and "Open") to any of your selected characters in order to explore the mansion.

There are many different ways to play the game. It all depends on what characters you pick and what you do with these characters. There are so many things you can do in the mansion, many of them are downright funny. For instance, once, I mailed a high-pitched audio tape to a man on television, and all of his windows broke when he played the tape. Though this would not effect the outcome of the game much, it's still a lot of fun to do. And while all this is happening, the story unfolds as the other mansion inhabitants (Aunt Edna, Weird Ed...) do their own little things, many times catching you to do what they want with you (Dungeon, anyone?). But the things that would change the outcome of the game can lead to totally different endings.

Unless you've played other point-and-click games, like Déjŕ vu or Shadowgate, the controls may seem a little strange to you at first. Can you imaging controlling a mouse pointer with a control pad? Well, that's what you have to do in this game (I believe I said something to that effect earlier). The most interesting thing I found about the control is that the mouse pointer doesn't move slowly like in many of the other point-and-click games. The mouse in this game moves rather quickly, allowing you to do more in a certain period of time. But these controls aren't necessarily the greatest, because the quick pointer can also lead to you passing over an item a few times before you finally point to it. I know, I've done it plenty of times.

The graphics in the game are pretty darn good, but there is a problem with it. The graphics have plenty of variety but lack detail. There may be a ton of items in a room, but these items will be plainly colored. Even the characters can be this way. There will be items that use several different colors, but they don't elaborate on the features. Some of the objects can even be non-realistic sometimes because they don't look like what they are intended to be. But this lack of detail isn't really a bad thing completely, because it allows for many things to appear on the screen at once, keeping the game as fun as it is without making you walk a character ten miles just to reach the next object.

Much of the game music is awesome, but some of it can be a bit annoying. Each character has their own song that plays when you're using the said character. Songs like Dave's song and Razor's song are very good and fun to listen to. But songs like that of the science nerd (his name escapes me for the moment), while still fun to listen to, can get annoying at times. But definitely one of the best songs in the game would have to be the wacky-creepy song you must listen to when watching an animation containing one of the mansion's strange inhabitants.

But what sound lacks with music can be made up partly by sound effects. True, sound effects don't happen too often. (Okay, okay! They hardly ever happen, give me a break!) But when they do, they can sure be good. If you break a glass item in the game, it sounds very much like broken glass. You hear the great sound of running water when you turn on the sink. Many of these effects sound so real, it's almost like no other array of sound effects I've ever heard on the NES before. The sounds may be minimal, but they are so good that they deserve nothing less than a gold watch and a certificate of achievement.

But unfortunately for the game, the challenge isn't very difficult. I beat this game within one day of buying it, and that's including the time I spent messing around with all the mansion's items. Sure, the different endings will keep you playing for more, but it's too bad the game has to be so short-lived when trying to beat it. If it wasn't for all the things you do and the weird things that happen when you play, I don't think this game may have been that great. Well, it certainly gets my vote for funniest NES game. Not that we were voting for anything in the first place. Blah, you know what I mean.

Still, though the game may have it's problems (What game doesn't? Don't answer that!), it's still one of the funniest and most enjoyable games you may ever play on the NES. The weird things you can do will make you want to do more and more around the mansion, and the multiple endings keep you playing again and again to see what the ending will be like.

When everything is considered together and the game is played (Many, many times, in my case), Maniac Mansion is, without a doubt, one of the best games you may ever play for the NES system. Actually, forget the NES. Maniac Mansion is one of the best games you may ever play, period. With all its crazy, mixed-up antics and with the wild imagination of the developers (I sometimes think they lived in the same mansion, weird as they made the game), this game is one of the most enjoyable games you will ever play. Case closed. And don't reopen it, please!


  • Storyline (8/10): Just your basic save the girl plot? No it gets much freakier than that.
  • Gameplay (10/10): Whoever said point-and-click games can't be all that great?
  • Control (7/10): Nice, fast pointer. Maybe too fast.
  • Graphics (8/10): So many objects on the screen at once, the detail almost gets lost.
  • Music (9/10): Some slightly annoying music, but a great soundtrack altogether.
  • Sound (10/10): Sound effects, little as there is, are very realistic. For a NES game, anyway.
  • Challenge (3/10): This game is not very hard at all. It can be beaten quite easily.
  • Replay (10/10): This game is so much fun you'll want to play again, and again, and again...
  • Overall (10/10): Trust me, this is one of the best games you will probably ever play.


Thank you for reading. Good-bye, and don't forget to wipe your feet when you leave.

My Score: 10/10