Maniac Mansion


      When most people think of Lucas Arts, they think about its two biggest properties, Star Wars and Indiana Jones. However, Star Wars and Indiana Jones arenít the only great products with the Lucas brand attached; there is also the phenomenon known as Maniac Mansion. The game is probably best known in its NES incarnation, but it was originally released for personal computers in 1987. When it was first released, it was a benchmark in the gaming industry. It introduced the Script Command Utility for Maniac Mansion (SCUMM) System, was one of the first games to truly showcase multiple endings, and it was an innovator of the RPG/Adventure genre. I will be talking about the Commodore 64 version for two reasons: 1) this is the version I grew up playing and 2) the programmers had to bastardize the game for the NES in order to conform to Nintendo of America's rigid guidelines. In this article, I will review some of the game's most entertaining endings and then do a complete walkthrough of my favorite one. Thatís right, Iím gonna show you the endings; call me a fucking spoiler. So if youíve never played Maniac Mansion before, please donít read this. I donít want you to. You donít deserve to. Hell, I'm pretty sure you don't deserve to live. El Capitan once executed Alasdair for not having seen Return of the Jedi, but who am I to say? Judge Dredd I am not.

      The premise of the game goes something like this: 20 years ago, a meteor crashed into Earth. This is no ordinary meteor, however. Not only is it sentient, it is also murderous... and purple. The meteor lands near the mansion of one Dr. Fred Edison, a crazy scientist. (Is that cliche or redundant? I can never remember.) The meteor takes control of the doctorís brain, and makes him build a machine that will suck the brains out of teenagers, then sends him out to kidnap them one by one. (The machine is clearly built to hold three, but thatís besides the point). One of the teens he kidnaps is a sexy young cheerleader named Sandy. This causes a dilemma because being a cheerleader, she had no brains to suck out in the first place, and also her boyfriend Dave is now unable to get laid. So Dave, in a desperate attempt to foil Dr. Fred's cockblock, organizes a rescue attempt with two of his six closest friends and heads to the mansion for a fun and wacky adventure.


The Heroes

Sandy - The damsel in distress.

Likes: Cheerleading, yellow bras, black shorts, yellow sneakers, long walks on the beach.
Dislikes: Wearing shirts, math, closing her mouth.

As you can see, cheerleaders were sluts even in the 80s.

Dave - Sandy's Boyfriend. Organizer of the rescue effort. In short, Dave is useless. The only thing of value he contributes is that he organized the damn thing, and that happens before the game even starts. Other than that, there’s really no reason why you would want Dave in your party. Unfortunately, Sandy is his girlfriend, and you’re required to use him.
Bernard - President of the physics club and winner of the college's Geek Award. Ah, the obligatory nerd. In my opinion, Bernard is proof that there were a whole lot of geeks working at Lucas Arts back in the day. Unlike Dave, Bernard is arguably the most useful character in the game. He can fix anything that’s broken and has the know-how to operate the radio, thus alerting the Meteor Police to meteor's presence. Unfortunately he runs like a school girl when he gets scared, and apparently he scares easy. Case in point: at the start of the game when Dave says the mission might be dangerous, Bernard tries to run away.
Michael - Award winning photographer for the college newspaper. The obligatory African-American. Michael also likes cheesy horror flicks. At the start of the game, he makes reference to some movie where four kids go into a mansion, but cuts himself off from going into further detail. The only real contribution Mike brings to the table is that he is able to develop the film of Weird Ed’s plans in the darkroom. Ed then helps you get into the lab. I have nothing bad to say about Michael.
Wendy - Wants to be a famous novelist and is waiting for a big break. The obligatory frumpy female character. Whereas most of Dave's friends have something interesting to say at the start of their maniacal mansion adventure, Wendy doesn’t say anything at all. This is probably some social comment by the makers of the game on the depth and importance of women. Wendy is the only character with the ability to doctor the meteor’s manuscript so as to make it legible enough to publish. This opens up a fairly good ending, as we will see later.
Razor - Lead singer for the punk band "Razor and the Scummettes". Razor kicks ass. There’s no other way to say it. She’s hot, she’s a punk singer, and she wears a leather dress with no back, black heels and a spiked choker. Also, the designers seem to have cared enough to give her a rack, unlike Wendy, who looks like she’s twelve. As a punk musician, Razor has the ability to play the baby grand in the mansion. Now, while this may seem uncool at first, the finger work she does on that piano would make Dream Theater drop Jordan Rudess in a heartbeat. At the start of the game, she says that she heard Dr. Fred was hot. Razor kicks ass.
Jeff - Usually hangs out on the beach, responds to the name, Surfer Dude. At the start of the game, we find out that Jeff was really stoned when Dave called him, and confused "go rescue Sandy" with "go to the beach". Jeff’s only redeeming quality is that he’s too poor to afford shoes, so you don’t have to hear that annoying clicking noise that all the other characters make when they walk. Jeff’s special talent in the game is that he is able to fix the telephone. What the fuck? Are we really to believe that someone who spends most of their time surfing has a viable trade craft? If he had red hair, I might be able to picture him doing a 1-800-CALL-ATT commercial, but that's about it. You’d think if he can fix phones that'd he be able to get a job and buy some damn shoes. Guess not, asshole.

Syd - An aspiring musician trying to start his own new-wave band. Oh wow, look at Syd. He’s so cool with his groovy shades and gnarly tie. Not! Syd sucks. As for special abilities, Syd is an exact copy of Razor. The major differences between the two are that Syd’s a guy, Syd wants to reform Flock of Seagulls, and Syd sucks.

IMPORTANT: Syd is nothing at all like Syd Lexia, the super awesome owner of this site. (Please don't fire me.)

Resident Evil: Meet The Edisons

      Thereís not much to say about most of the inhabitants of the mansion. Dr. Fred likes to play arcade games. Nurse Edna is a nymphomaniac whoís so ugly she breaks mirrors; she also has some of the most disturbing lines in the game. Weird Ed is their survivalist child who loves his hamster more than anything else in this world. Dead Cousin Ted is Edna's cousin who is mortified, mummified, and marooned in a the room at the end of the upstairs hall. For some reason, he also wrote "For A Good Time - Edna" on his bathroom wall along with her phone number, which is disgusting on about fifty different levels. The Purple Tentacle is Dr. Fredís number two, and it looks like a big purple number two. He also apparently likes to watch Edna while she sleeps. The Green Tentacle is another story. Heís the only character who doesnít throw you in the brig; he just blocks your path until you feed him. The Green Tentacle is a depressed musician who just canít seem to get his band off the ground. When you visit him in his room you get to listen to him gripe about his crappy life, and how all he wants is to get his band signed. Keep this in mind, thereíll be a quiz later. Now, without further ado, the endings!

 

The Extra Crispy Ending:

      There are a couple of ways to achieve this ďendingĒ, though it's really more of a game over. The mansion's swimming pool doubles as the cooling mechanism for a secret nuclear reactor in the basement, so if you leave the pool drained too long, the house will blow up. Also, if you turn off the circuit breakers, and stick around until the Purple Tentacle comes to investigate, heíll throw you in the brig and completely forget to turn the power back on... and then the house blows up. But I think cliches are always the best way to go. There happens to be an ominous red button at the bottom of the pool that's just begging to be pushed, and if you push the shiny, candy-like, red button, then (surprise!) the house will blow up. But regardless of how you manage to blow the mansion up, the message is always the same: The house and everyone within a 5 mile radius have been destroyed in a massive nuclear meltdown. This isnít the most interesting ending, but it is the most nihilistic, and really, how can you not appreciate a mushroom cloud?

 

The Heavenís Gate Ending:

      Once again, this scenario is really more of a game over than an ending. Grab some water from the pool, pop it in the microwave, and let the fun begin. It would have been cool if you could add the pool water to the fruit drinks in the refrigerator, but I digress. Anyway, when you open the microwave, the unlucky kid who youíre controlling will start screaming about radioactive steam and eventually die. For some reason, when you arenít controlling the other two kids, not only are they immobile, they also donít breathe. After you get everyone to microwave the water (yes, you have to run the microwave three separate times, radioactive steam apparently becomes harmless after a few seconds), you will be treated to a picture of three tombstones and the following message: All the kids have died. The rescue attempt has failed. Sandy is doomed to zombiehood. Dr. Fred, still under the evil meteor's influence, is destined to take over the world and a small part of the galaxy. Hope you like purple... heh, heh, heh. A fun little ending, even though you really accomplish nothing.

 

From Infamous to Famous:

      The meteor may evil, but he's also been busy writing his memoirs; you can find them in Dr. Fredís office. Unfortunately, not having any appendages makes it pretty fucking hard to write. If you get Wendy to make the memoirs legible with the typewriter and send it off to the Three Guys Who Publish Anything publishing agency, theyíll give the meteor a multi-million dollar contract. When you give the meteor the contract, he commands Dr. Fred to release the women, all the women, then we get a cut scene of a talk show:

Wink: Welcome back from our break. We've been talking with the celebrity rock who gave up a life of crime for a career as a writer. So, Mr. Meteor, how does it feel to be famous instead of infamous?
Meteor: Well, Wink, it feels great. But I couldn't have done it alone.


The screen then pans over to show Dave and Sandy in the wings. This ending may be a feel good ending, but what about Wendy? Sheís the one who fixed the fucking manuscript, and the meteor thanks fucking Dave and Sandy! Itís obvious to me that after seeing that the meteor got a big money contract and she got nothing, Wendy killed herself. Nice ending, assholes.

 

Infamy to Famy, Part 2:

      If you get Bernard to call the Meteor Police before you give the meteor the contract, it goes to the talk show again. This time, however, when the screen pans over to Dave and Sandy, who didnít even go to Wendyís funeral, the Meteor Police show up and book the meteorís rocky purple ass. This ending is better than the previous, because even though Wendy is worm food, the meteor is soon going to become very acquainted with a large meteor named Bubba, whoís really going to teach it the meaning of purple.

 

The Happy Ending:

      If you actually go through the entire game and dispose of the purple meteor by dumping it in the rocket-powered Ford Edsel and blasting it into space, you get the traditional ending. Dr. Fred apologizes for the trouble heís caused and asked if thereís anything he can do to repay the favor. Dave responds that cash would be nice. Dr. Fred then retorts, ďDonít be a smart ass.Ē Apparently a guy with a fucking huge mansion, is too cheap to give the kids who saved the world a couple bucks. Yay for happy endings. In the NES version of the game, Dr. Fred says ďDonít be a tuna head!Ē This is just one of the many atrocities resulting from Nintendo of America's censorship policies.

 

The Revenge of the Nerds Ending:

      If you kill off Dave and rescue Sandy with Bernard, it shows those two standing by Daveís grave in the end sequence. Dr. Fred says something about building a machine that would bring Dave back to life, but then states that ďthatís another storyĒ. You know, Iím beginning to wonder if it really was the meteor that made Dr. Fred act like a complete asshole. Anyway, this ending proves the old adage that the geek can get the girl, all he has to do is kill his best friend. What a great ending.

 

The Mega-Happy Ending:

As promised, here's a full walkthrough of how to get the mega-happy ending:

1. Select Razor and Bernard as your two other kids.
2. Get the key from under the doormat and have Bernard to open the front door.
3. Send Dave up into the kitchen, and right into Ednaís waiting arms and inappropriate sexual remarks.
4. Send Razor into the kitchen and dining room. Grab the flashlight from the counter, the Pepsi from the fridge, and the fruit drinks and glass jar in the pantry.
5. Go back to the foyer, through the living room, and grab the cassette tape behind the loose panel in the library.
6. Go up the foyer staircase, head left and grab the bowl of waxed fruit and paint remover. Keep heading up stairs until you run into the Green Tentacle.
7. Feed the Green Tentacle the waxed fruit and the fruit drinks.
8. Head up the stairs and into the first door, then go up the ladder into Green's bedroom.
9. Grab the record on the shelf and the yellow key on the far wall. Go into the fourth door in the hallway - Ted's room..
10. Have Razor to pump iron twice, then switch back to Bernard.
11. Ring the doorbell, then run inside and hide in the kitchen. Ed will run downstairs to check the door.
12. Switch back to Razor and sneak into Ed's room while he's out. Grab two dimes from his piggy bank, his hamster, and the key card underneath it.
13. Hide in Dead Ted's room again. When the coast is clear, go back down to the top of the foyer stairs and head to the room on the right.
14. Make a cassette recording of the record you picked up earlier. While you're here, watch the television.
15. Go back down to the living room and play the tape to shatter the chandelier. Grab the old rusty key.
NOTE: When the doorbell rings, switch to Bernard, run out to the mailbox, peel the stamps off the package, grab the package and run back into the kitchen.
16. Get Bernard to push the gargoyle head on the banister, thus opening the basement door. Send Razor down to get the silver key.
17. Bring Razor outside the house, pull the bushes out of the way and open the grating.
18. Go back inside and make your way into the pantry via the kitchen and dining room. Use the silver key to get outside to the pool.
19. Go through the gate, open the garage and pop the Edsel's trunk with the yellow key. Grab the tools and the water faucet handle, then go stand by the pool.
20. Take Bernard outside. Go through the grating and drain the pool.
21. Send Razor into the pool to grab the glowing key and radio. Exit the pool, then have Bernard refill it. Fill the glass jar with pool water.
22. Bring Bernard back into the foyer, get the tools from Razor, and go fix the phone in the library.
23. Be a good little nerd and return the tools to Razor, give her the stamps and go down into the basement.
24. Bring Razor back up to the music room with the cassette tape (you did pick it up again, right?) and make a tape of her playing the piano.
25. Head upstairs and go into Dead Ted's bathroom. Use the water handle to turn on the water and discover Edna's phone number. Head into Door #5 now.
26. Water the man-eating plant with the pool water, then feed it the Pepsi. Use the paint remover on the paint blotch and head through the door.
27. Haul the batteries out of the radio and put them in the flashlight. Don't forget to turn it on.
28. Switch to Bernard and shut off the circuit breakers in the basement. Once the power is out, have Razor fix the broken wires.
29. Quickly turn the power back on before Bernard gets caught, then send him into the library. Position Razor outside Edna's room, the second door in the hall.
30. Have Bernard prank call Edna, then get ready for another disturbing Edna moment.
31. Sneak Razor into the room while Edna's distracted, grab the small key on the night stand (if you want), and climb the ladder.
32. Pull the picture out of the way, and head back down. (You may need to call Edna again.)
33. Go into the man-eating plant room and climb the plant.
34. In the observatory, put two dimes into the coin slot, and hit the right arrow twice. You can now use the telescope to read the combination to the safe.
35. Open Edna's safe and take the envelope. Don't open it.
36. Get back to the man-eating plant room and use the envelope in the typewriter. Head back down to the kitchen.
37. Fill up your glass jar with TAP WATER, then put the jar and the envelope in the microwave. Turn it on.
38. Open the freshly steamed envelope to get your grubby fingers on a shiny new quarter.
39. Put your tape in the envelope and put the stamps on it. Pop it in the mailbox, close it up and raise the red flag. Now comes the fun part...
40. GO NUKE THE FUCKING HAMSTER! (Note: Never EVER do this in real life. You will get in a shitload of trouble.)
41. Now you have to wait for the mail to make its way around. While you wait, go play Meteor Mess in the arcade. The high score is the code to the Seckrit Lab.
42. This is also a good time to get Bernard to grab the radio tube from the radio in the living room and bring it to Dr. Fred's room.
43. Put the tube in Dr. Fred's radio and call the Meteor Police using the number on the poster. They'll show up and drop a badge in the dungeon.
44. Keep waiting. If you have a turbo mode on your C64 emulator, I recommend using it here.
45. Sooner or later the doorbell will ring and there will be a record contract waiting for you in the mailbox. Retrieve it with Bernard. I know what youíre thinking, "A nerd with a recording contract? Come on." Well, it worked for Dexter Holland, and it'll work for Bernard too. Have Bernard give the contract to the Green Tentacle. The Green Tentacle will NOT be pleased. "So you got yourself a recording contract. Gee thanks, I think Iíll just go kill myself. On second thought..." We are then brought outside, where we see that Bernard has been mercilessly raped to death by the tentacle. Next!
46. Go down into the dungeon using the old rusty key and give the exploded hamster to Dave.
47. Bring Dave up to Ed's Room and give el exploded hamster to the poor bastard. Ed will be ripshit. "No thanks. Wait, what IS that? It has bits of fur like my hamster's! Oh no!!! What did you do!!! Argh!!!" Back outside, we see that Dave has suffered the same fate as Bernard. I bet he wishes he had let Edna tie him to her bed right about now. No wait, death is still better.
48. Beat the game with Razor - the glowing key opens the outer lab door, the arcade high score opens inner door, the Meteor Police badge gets you past the Purple Tentacle, and the yellow key sends the meteor and the Edsel into space. This nets you the mega-happy ending. As the sole survivors of Dave's botched rescue mission, Razor and Sandy totally hook up, which is completely awesome. Even though no lesbian activity is shown and none is ever implied, I'm pretty sure we can still safely assume that's what happens; it's our God-given right.



Posted by: Valdronius
08/08/07

 

 

DON'T BE A TUNA HEAD!