Posted in Retro Gaming

Maniac Mansion: Art therapy

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1987’s Maniac Mansion. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

I have vague memories of early adventure games in my youth where the player would be given some strange house to explore. The allure was always in the “what will be behind the next door?” so you wanted to keep going. I get a lot of this feeling with Maniac Mansion’s rooms.

After all, this is a game where you’re given very little in the way of exposition or even — in contrast to most adventure games — descriptions. The characters can’t be told to look at things and give a better explanation, so the best you can hope for is that by bumping against stuff they might utter a short descriptive phrase. Or you can just take in the room and deduce your own explanation.

Such as it is with this bizarre art room… that also has a vat of purple slime in the corner? And some really bad drawings? I don’t know what’s going on here, but it looks like art class for kindergarteners.

Up on the third story, there’s a sentient green tentacle. Of course. And unlike the other inhabitants of this house, he doesn’t seem that hostile. Hungry, yes, but not hostile.

Up on the fourth floor, Dr. Fred’s room has this confusing wanted posted. Apparently a “slimy meteor” has been doing some hardcore violence around the place? Enough to warrant a poster from the authorities? This is so confusing…

Another cutscene, another bewildering interaction between the blue-skinned family. I guess this is what life is like when you live with a mad scientist.

I’ll say this: At least this isn’t your typical haunted house. Every room here is just so strange and funny and begs for an explanation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mummy pin-up before.

Fifth floor now? This is where green tentacle lives — or should I say, pouts. He’s all depressed because he’s having problems getting his band going, which you would think would be right up Razor’s alley, being a punk rocker and all.

In true adventure game fashion, I’m stealing everything not nailed down and trashing the place. Here, Razor plays a loud cassette tape to break a chandelier (and a window) in order to get a key. Hey, it’s their fault for putting keys up there in the first place!

Man, I’d love to be taking what looks like a jet-propelled car out for a test drive, but alas, it lacks wheels.

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