How Can I Play It? Maniac Mansion
Don't be a tuna head! Catch up with this classic adventure.
Our ""How Can I Play It?"series lays out the best options for legitimately and legally playing the classic games we cover here at Retronauts, ideally on current platforms.
This week, we explored a game near and dear to Bob's heart: Revolutionary LucasArts adventure game Maniac Mansion. Unlike a lot of vintage PC adventure games, Maniac Mansion holds up pretty well today. And, unlike a lot of vintage PC games, Maniac Mansion isn't too difficult to play in the here and now. Thanks to its dedicated fan base, Maniac Mansion is incredibly friendly to the prospect of playing on modern hardware. Whether you prefer computers or consoles, it's a cinch to unravel the mystery of a mad, murderous, megalomaniacal meteor.
Original PC versions
If you own some original iteration of Maniac Mansion for some obsolete vintage computing platform (like, say, MS-DOS) — congratulations! You have a working copy of Maniac Mansion. No, you can't just boot the Atari ST executable in Windows 10, but what you can do is go to the SCUMM VM page and download a LucasArts adventure game file interpreter that runs on any platform imaginable.
As a bonus, SCUMM VM also runs other LucasArts point-and-click adventures, as well as classic games by Sierra OnLine and Humongous Entertainment. Please enjoy the next several hundred hours of your gaming life, which will be filled with whimsical, classic adventures.
There's no shortage of devices capable of playing NES games on the market these days, so as far I'm concerned original NES cartridges constitute a valid contemporary format. You can pick up a Maniac Mansion cart for cheap these days — the going price is less than 20 bucks — and it'll run on a huge variety of modern emulator and clone consoles. From the incredibly faithful Analogue Nt Mini and RetroUSB AVS to the pretty good Retrofreak to the YMMV likes of the RetroN line: If you can't find a way to play NES carts in HD on a modern television, you're not even trying.
As covered in this episode, the NES port is a really solid console conversion of the computer game, despite some bowdlerization. If you're really up for a weird and wacky challenge, though, consider hunting down the Japanese Famicom cartridge. It's complete different from the NES game, despite being published by the same company. To my knowledge, there's no English fan translation of this version, but it's worth a look just to see how off-the-rails the game can go.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered
An even easier way to play Maniac Mansion is to hop onto PlayStation Network or a computer or iOS app store. Day of the Tentacle Remastered, last year's HD overhaul of Maniac Mansion's sequel, launched last year on Windows, Linux, and OS X (via GOG and Steam), on iOS, and both PlayStation 4 and Vita. All of these versions contain the original PC edition of Maniac Mansion as a bonus within the game. Plus, you get to play a remake of the sequel, complete with developer commentary.
For the ultimate in minimal end-user effort, though, you can't beat Archive.org. Curator Jason Scott's venture enjoys an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, meaning it can legally host emulated versions of a massive variety of classic games. All you need to do is jump over to the site and boot the games in question in your browser. That includes both the original microcomputer version of Maniac Mansion as well as its visually tarted-up fangame remake, Maniac Mansion Deluxe.