Before Skyrim, there was King’s Quest. Before Dark Souls – Shadowgate. Through the 1980’s, and well into the 90’s, point-and-click graphic adventure games topped sales charts, captured imaginations, and inspired droves of future game developers.
In 1987, Lucasfilm Games (now LucasArts) exploded onto the scene with Maniac Mansion, garnering critical praise, and creating a wave of controversy.
Maniac Mansion creators Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick drew inspiration from B-Horror films, creating what they called “a ridiculous teen horror movie,” full of campiness and humor. The game takes place in the Edison family mansion, where Dr. Fred, Nurse Edna, and their son Weird Ed live. Twenty years before the start of the game, an evil meteor crashed near the mansion. The meteor took control of Dr. Fred, and compelled him to start sucking out human brains for experimental purposes.
When a local cheerleader named Sandy vanishes without a trace, her boyfriend Dave and his friends enter the mansion in search of her. Little do they know that Sandy isn’t just being held captive by the nefarious Dr. Fred, but is also trapped inside a mansion with two large, sentient space tentacles, a mummy in a bathtub, an unstable nuclear reactor, and a blood-splattered chainsaw in the kitchen.
Maniac Mansion was amazing; one of the most memorable and amazing adventure games ever made. Now, 25 years later, a team of dedicated developers is working to bring us back to the mansion once again.
Edison Interactive has been working tirelessly on a project called Night of the Meteor, which is a remake of Maniac Mansion. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill reboot though; this game is bringing new puzzles, more dialogue, more animations, and a complete graphical and sound overhaul.
The game’s new look is modeled after the Maniac Mansion sequel, Day of the Tentacle, which is very much inspired by the art styling of cartoonist Chuck Jones. Edison Interactive also promises to add loads of new content, so while a veteran of the original will feel right at home, he or she will have all new challenges to experience.
I recently sat down with the lead developer at Edison Interactive, the enigmatic Mr. L, to inquire about the project.
What about Maniac Mansion resonated so deeply with you that you wanted to undertake this project?
Mr L: Maniac Mansion came out for the C64 when we were children, so it was the first real adventure game we ever played, and it also made us love this genre. Maniac Mansion has so much crazy and funny stuff to discover that we played it over and over again. All of our team members tried to solve it with every possible team formation, and we also tried really hard to get some gas for the chainsaw.
Whenever we think of our childhood, we remember the fun we had playing Maniac Mansion on our C64s.
Are you a fan of other point-and-click adventure games, like Shadowgate?
Mr L: That is a big YES! Maniac Mansion made us addicted to point-and-click adventures, so most of us played almost every decent adventure game that crossed our way, and we’re always searching for new ones ( like the upcoming fan-financed adventure from ‘Day of the Tentacle’ creator Tim Schafer, for example).
Shadowgate is definitely something for our to do list.
Why did you decide on adopting the Chuck Jones inspired art style from Day of the Tentacle?
Mr L: Because it is awesome! One of the reasons why Day of the Tentacle is so great is its comic graphic style, and we think Maniac Mansion deserves to shine in the same way.
Years ago the community of www.maniac-mansion-mania.com was fooling around on how the characters of Maniac Mansion might look like if they were used in Day of the Tentacle. The results were so inspiring that the idea to make this project was born. So this art style is basically the reason why this project exists.
How much of the soundtrack will be new? Will all of the original tracks be present?
Mr L: The game will have a soundtrack with CD-quality instead of MIDI, but we use the music from Day of the Tentacle and the NES version of Maniac Mansion as base.
Each character will still have his or her own unique theme based on the original tracks, so you will recognize Daves theme melody when you play as Dave.
How much new content can be expected?
Mr L: Quite a bit. We try to expand the story and make it more challenging. But we’ll stay very close to the original. That’s all we want to say about that at the moment.
Will the core game be altered much?
Mr L: The main story will be exactly the same. We’ll add more dialogue and more comments on objects and inventory items, more sound, new music and of course lots of animations!
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Mr L: Finding time to work on this project (or finding people who have more spare time than we do.)
The trailer you released was fantastic. What was the inspiration for it?
Mr L: The style is taken from the classic B-movies of the 1940‘s and 1950‘s. Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ was the main inspiration.
When can players expect the game to be released?
Mr L: It’s done when it’s done – but this depends on if the world ends in 2012 or not.
Did you microwave that poor hamster?
Mr L: We microwaved about 27 real hamsters just to get an impression on what the animation should look like.
Okay, just kidding. No animals will be harmed during the production of this game, but we are not responsible for what the player will do to Eds hamster while playing this game.
Night of the Meteor Trailer
To stay up to date with the Night of the Meteor project, see screenshots, and download media, be sure and visit: