Maniac Mansion under Virtual PC

Maniac Mansion under Virtual PC

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After posting about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I thought I would take a walk down the list of LucasArts adventure games that I have played.  Maniac Mansion is the first game that comes to mind for many people when they think of LucasArts adventure games - though it was actually the second adventure game release by LucasArts (Labyrinth being the first) and it was the third LucasArts adventure game that I ever played.

The story of the game is that you are "Dave Miller", a teenage boy who needs to venture into a mansion in order to rescue your missing / kidnapped girlfriend "Sandy Pantz".  The mansion in question belongs to an eccentric family - called the Edisons - who have become increasingly strange in the past 20 years, after a purple meteor fell in their front yard.  You have to explore the house, try to rescue Sandy, and try not to get caught in the process.

Maniac Mansion was pretty amazing for its time - and still has some unique aspects to it.  The first one that comes to my mind is that this is a rare LucasArts adventure game that allows you to die - most other ones protect you from death and do not allow you to get stranded.

Next is the fact that Maniac Mansion allows you to choose a team of three players from a potential list of 7 total (though one of these - Dave - is always selected) and the options available to you for completing the game vary on the characters that you choose.

Third is the fact that Maniac Mansion was the first LucasArts game to use the "SCUMM" engine (SCUMM stands for "Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion") that would be used for most of the following LucasArts adventure games.

And fourth is the fact that Maniac Mansion was originally developed for the Commodore 64 - which was my original computer system - and then later ported to the PC (and many other platforms).

Maniac Mansion runs "okay" under Virtual PC, with a couple of caveats:

 mm1 mm2 mm3

The first one is that I could not get the mouse to work, and had to use the keyboard.  I have vague memories of using a mouse with this game - but when I tried running it on physical hardware I could not get the mouse to work there either.  So I am not quite sure what is happening there.

The second is that the sound is fairly ghastly.  That said - the sound is not much better on physical hardware.  Maniac Mansion attempts to perform the old-school feat of "playing music through the PC speaker by playing lots of short beeps quickly" and Virtual PC cannot quite keep up.  But this is not too bad as sound is used sparingly and Virtual PC is able to convey the basic gist of the original sound.

Cheers,
Ben

UPDATE: I got the mouse to work!  All you have to do is press "Shift + M" after starting the game to enable the mouse.  Being an old game the mouse is not enabled by default.

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  • I'm going to nitpick (and otherwise note interesting factoids), hope you don't mind too much...

    1) Actually AFAIK the ability to lose in an adventure game was common in that era ("You have been eaten by a grue.").  It was the inability to die or otherwise lose in an adventure game that LucasArts would later pioneer.  I believe they said they didn't want to penalize the player for exploring, as such penalization was often unexpected and frustrating for the player.

    2) The mouse should indeed work.  I recall using it myself.  I don't know why people have such fond memories of MS-DOS, myself. :)  I believe it should work under Windows 98, though... I'm not 100% positive about this.

    3) If you can get your hands on the Nintendo Entertainment System port, the graphics are a bit nicer in that one (it actually has a customized palette instead of the icky standard EGA).  Obviously you won't be able to run it in Virtual PC though... >_>

    4) Maniac Mansion comes for free with its sequel, Day of the Tentacle, and in fact the sequel invokes it when you use a particular item in the game.  You can of course run it separately if you can find the game files on the CD.  So if you have DotT you also have a copy of MM to play. :)

  • Not really related to Microsoft Virtual PC as such, but if you're really looking to play MM and other LA titles (provided you have your original games media), http://www.scummvm.org/ is the way to go.

  • I love this game! First played it on my Apple //e and later using emulator/VirtualPC. Can't remember if the mouse works or not but I had been using joystick playing it.

  • Dude put the hamster in the Microwave!

  • Dan -

    Re: 1) Yes - that is why I stated that it is rare for a LucasArts adventure game.

    Re: 2) Figured it out.  You need to press "Shift + M" to turn on the mouse.

    Re: 3) Actually, I do not agree.  You can checkout some screenshots of the NES version here: http://lucasarts.vintagegaming.org/index.php?do=ss&gameid=2&systemid=10 - I much prefer the graphics quality in the PC version.

    Mike -

    Just don't let Ed know about it! :-)

    Cheers,

    Ben

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