TAKE one remote and mysterious old mansion. Include a kidnapped heroine and naive group of rescuers. For good measure, add a mad professor, a homicidal nurse and a teenage commando with a hamster fetish. Put it all together and what have you got, apart from material for a dozen tacky horror films? Yup, that's right, you've got Maniac Mansion.
Although this is essentially an adventure, Lucasfilm has managed to dispense with all that tedious typing, and has successfully created an animated game that is fun to play and enjoyable to watch. It uses a virtually identical control system to its predecessor, Zak McKraken.
Initially, you play the part of Dave, whose girlfriend Sandy has been kidnapped by Fred the mad prof. You placed an advert on the school notice board asking for volunteers to assist you in your rescue bid. Before you stand seven applicants, each of whom has different abilities in areas ranging from surfboarding to physics.
Having selected two people to join you, it's off to the mansion where the game proper can begin.
Your group starts on the road just outside the house. A sign sets the tone of the game: "WARNING! Trespassers will be horribly mutilated!" Ignoring this message, you quickly encounter the first problem - how do you get in? The solution is as logical as it is a cliché. Once inside, the puzzles become somewhat more obscure.
There seem to be so many objects available, but never the ones that you want. Unraveling the intricate web of the plot is a time-
At various times during play the game will be interrupted by brief flashes from other parts of the house. These show what is currently happening to Sandy, who despite her bravery is due to have her brains sucked out.
Each of the three heroes can be controlled individually, and while they will be needed to work solo for much of the time, there are occasions when cooperation is the only solution.
Lucasfilm say that the game can be completed with any combination of characters, but the plot will be modified according to the selections you make. Thus you may play many entirely different games before truly completing Maniac Mansion.
I can't help but draw comparisons between Maniac Mansion and the cult musical, The Rocky Horror Show. They both have a very offbeat sense of humour. There are numerous other similarities, all of which serve to enhance the intriguing story line, recreating a Sixties horror atmosphere.