Day #31: Lucy and the Popsonics – Estetoscópio
Looks like Maniac Mansion, the highly revered cult classic video game that beautiful women use to screen potential lovers (very true!) may be getting another sequel. This one, Night of the Meteor, is supposed to pick up where the first game left off.
For those of you who are shamefully unaware (and thus, perpetually single and sexless), Maniac Mansion arrived on the scene a whopping 25 years ago. Its amusing narrative and innovations in game play set it apart from most other games at the time, especially in the console world, where the objective of most games was going level-by-level to defeat subordinate bosses before battling a head boss who is holding captive someone near and ear to the hero (or hero collective). Usually, the victims were busty girlfriends.
Where Are They Now: Super Mario and the Princess
Alright, to be honest, that’s all in Maniac Mansion, too. But, that’s not even the half of it! Maniac Mansion‘s story began “twenty years ago today…” when a murderous, slimy purple meteor crashed into the Earth. Behind the big, creepy mansion that scientist Dr. Fred shares with his eccentric family. With plans for world domination — and isn’t it always that way with meteors?! — it hypnotizes Dr. Fred so that he’ll assist in carry out the meteor’s plans. I assume this is became opposable digits will help to expedite the mayhem. For some reason, executing this scheme required kidnapping bubbly, blond high school cheerleader, Sandy, and holding her captive in the mansion. But never fear! Her boyfriend, Dave (made more handsome and cleft-chinned in later versions), and two of friends of your choosing embark on a mission to rescue Sandy from the grips of the slimy purple meteor and his sinister scientist sidekick (who is otherwise a rather nice guy).
Your job is to organize and manage the search party, first by picking the friends that will join Dave in his rescue mission, and then guiding them all through the mansion, passing the baton to whichever character becomes the higher priority. Barring some kind of emergency picking up items, priority is usually defined as whichever player has the better soundtrack. (Yeah, they had CD players way before you did and each play a single song throughout the game… unless you turn them off like some kind of heartless bastard). Some events, like creating diversions and bailing your friends out of a dungeon, will also require some teamwork.
But, it wasn’t just another game of the traditional game play where you advance level-by-level. Here, the setting was constant. All the action occurs in the mansion and the surrounding grounds. And, because Maniac Mansion incorporated and expanded upon the old text-based adventure games, it allowed for a more complex narrative. One in which the hero collective’s actions could trigger a number of alternate endings. So, while the ultimate object of the game is to rescue the hero’s busty girlfriend and stop a murderous, slimy purple meteor before he makes the world call him Daddy, it wasn’t the only objective.
The alternate ending depend upon the skills of the characters selected to join in the mission. Of the seven friends in the recruitment pool, Bernard the uber-nerd was handy with fixing things. Michael is a photographer. Wendy, a journalist. There are two musicians, Razo and Sid. And, Jeff, the surfer, really has no skill. Not to give the better endings away, Micheal’s photography skills can, in one scenario, provide the impetus for mutiny among Dr. Fred’s family.
The scripting engine (SCUMM/VM) was created specifically for Maniac Mansion (that’s what the first two M’s in the acronym refer to), allowing players to select from several action commands like “open” or “turn off,” expanding character capabilities without the need of having to type commands or switch to alternate screens. (SCUMM and technical jargon found here).
Nurse Edna prepares to live out her Mrs. Robinson fantasy.
Then came Day of the Tentacle (DOTT), which ended the video game Dark Ages for Maniac Mansion fans who by the early 90s, were probably both tired of playing the game for the millionth time and disappointed that the TV show adaptation only last one season, and were busily petitioning LucasArts to hurry up and come out with a sequel, which they did, in 1993. (Side note: you can play the original, unedited version of Maniac Mansion in DOTT). Unfortunately, this one only appeared for PC platforms, on that old medium of CD Rom, despite advancements in console technology, and emergence of other manufacturers besides Nintendo.
What’s with all this taking over the world?!
The game once again centered around the villainous quest for world domination, but this time, the scheme was executed by Purple Tentacle (and isn’t that just the way with purple tentacles?!). And really, it wasn’t his fault, but was a result of drinking toxic sludge from behind the Edison hotel, Dr. Fred and family’s new residence. Though, I guess Purple Tentacle could be blamed for his indiscriminate drinking. Probably remembering what happens when purple things start scheming to take over the world, Dr. Fred was just ready to just nip things in the bud and kill Purple Tentacle. Problem solved (if not inhumanely). But, to be fair, it was Dr. Fred’s blatant environmental abuses that created the sludge and so Purple Tentacle’s friend, Green Tentacle summons an old friend to help: uber-nerd Bernard, who you may remember from such video games as Maniac Mansion.
With the help of two new friends – the slovenly Hoagie and spastic Laverne (because now the characters don’t have to be pixelated stick figures with bulbous heads) – they convince Dr. Fred to try another tact to prevent impending world domination: time travel! They will just use Fred’s not-yet-accurate Chron-o-Jons (if an American made car can time travel, why not portable toilets?!) To go back in time and intervene so that Purple Tentacle doesn’t drink the sludge (although some environmental awareness training might also have prevented future mayhem). But, without all that necessary beta testing, the machines transport Hoagie to the past and Laverne to the future. So, before there can be any stopping Purple Tentacle, Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne, with occasional help from Dr. Fred, must work a Ross time dimensions to fix the machines and get Hoagie and Laverne back to the present. And, perhaps the best part of all of that is that Hoagie momentarily gets to party with the Founding Fathers! Seriously these are like stories that an imaginative seventh grader would invent.
The are no official release dates for the next sequel,Night of the Meteor, as this is the product of dedicated German fans. The last update to website was back in December and only gave a sneak peek at some screenshots. Hopefully, news of a finished game will come soon, danke shoen.