Rory’s Retro World

Hello there Geekin’ Out readers and other random internet people! I’m Rory and welcome to my Retro World. Since this is my first article I spent some time trying to figure out what game to review, it had to be something pretty awesome. I asked around and I spent many a restless night trying to decide. I finally landed on a game, Maniac Mansion.  An adventure game on the NES developed by LucasArts and published by Jaleco, brought to us in 1989.

Now if you have never played this game I highly recommend it. I actually owned this game, one of the original cartridges I had for my NES back when I was 7-8 years old. I’m not much for adventure games, most point and click adventures always ended up in a random clicking/guessing frenzy with small moments of happiness or laughter followed by another frenzy for me, But Maniac Mansion was fun.

The game starts out with an image of a ramshackle house and the words “20 years ago…..” as you watch a meteor fall into the field next to the house. Come to find out that the house is Dr. Fred’s house and as the years go by he became even crazier and weirder than he ever was before the meteor. You also find out that Dr. Fred kidnapped your girlfriend Sandy

and apparently you are Dave,

and you have to go rescue her! So of course, being the suave guy that you are, you convince your friends you need help and you get to choose 2 friends from a group of 6. This is where the game starts getting weird and fun. Your friends you get to choose from are as follows:

Bernard (Geek Award Winner and Physics Club President),

Michael (Ace Photographer for the College Newspaper),

Razor (Leader of the Band Razor and the Scummettes),

Jeff (Lives on the Beach, Answers to “Surfer Dude”),

Syd (Aspiring Musician who Wants to Start his own Band),

and Wendy (Waiting for her first big break as a Novelist).

As you can see each of the characters have something unique and special about them which helps you out somewhere in the Mansion.

At this point in the game you finally gain control of the action, which consists of walking around using the D-pad and clicking where you want to go. You get to interact with most anything that you see with your action bar on the bottom of the screen and find tools and hints on what to do throughout the game. Now of course any adventure game would not be good without the puzzles, and this game has a lot of them. This is where Maniac Mansion is set apart from most other adventure games. You can solve any of the puzzles at least 2 or 3 different ways, but most of the time you need one of your friends abilities to be able to solve the puzzle. Michael takes pictures and Syd can play music so they can solve those kinds of puzzles easily. But what if you didn’t choose someone who is able to solve a puzzle easily? Well you have more options on how to solve the puzzle; you just have to work harder at it. Every possible group of friends can make it through the mansion, just some are harder than others.

Gameplay for this game gets an A- from me. It’s very enjoyable and not very frustrating. You can die in this game, it’s really hard to do but when it happens it’s funny and it makes the game replayable. I’m not a fan of adventure games but this one was always fun and I’ve played it numerous times.

Graphically this game is alright, It is 8-bit so there is not much they could actually do. But they designed a large mansion and pretty interesting things to go inside of it. The voice and mouth syncing was a neat touch and the cut scenes were decent as well. Despite what others say I liked the funky walking animation and for that I give Graphics a B.

Now we come to the music section, the music for Maniac Mansion is something that everyone who has ever played, or even watched the game being played, talks about. The music for this game is amazing. Every one of your friends comes with a unique theme that you can switch on and off via their CD player they carry with them. There are even unique themes for the bad guys and special events. The soundtrack to this game is absolutely fantastic and it’s certainly something you would not expect from an NES title. If you need one reason to play this game the music should be it. I give Music/Sound a resounding A+.

The storyline of this game is reminiscent of cheesy B horror films, but has great comedic moments and the game has multiple endings. Do I need to add more to that to get you interested?

Okay so we have an insane scientist, a meteor from space causing said insanity.

We have the tentacle monsters,

yes there’s two of them, and we even have a hamster and a microwave. Through and through this game has an awesome storyline that makes it enjoyable to play more than twice even. The multiple endings and the assortment of characters you can play make this game replayable multiple times. For Storyline I grant this title an A+.

I loved this game, all in all in gets an A for me. So if you like cheesy B horror movies, fun adventure games, or even want to take a break from the high resolution FPS you’re playing, go find Maniac Mansion and play it. Dive back into the golden age of video games and have some fun. This has been Rory’s Retro World thank you for reading.


picture credit goes to Lucasarts/Jaleco

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