Phew! Maniac Mansion was a pretty tough nut to crack (it took me seven hours all up)! Even though I had a fair idea of how events were going to play out towards the end, there were a couple of times where I was well and truly stuck. As you may have gathered from my last post (well you would have if you’ve played the game yourself), I was totally barking up the wrong tree when it came to getting hold of some radioactive material to use on the man-eating plant. I spent a long time trying to collect the radioactive goo on the floor in the reactor room with various utensils before finally resolving to look elsewhere when that failed. Not long afterwards I remembered seeing radioactive rods in the emptied pool, so I emptied it once again and climbed in to see if I could find any material in there that I’d missed the first time around. When that failed too, I was seriously about thirty seconds away from posting a request for assistance, when out of nowhere I had one of those eureka moments I spoke about recently (although this one could easily be labelled a face-palm). Of course the water in the pool would be contaminated by the rods that were cooling in it! I collected some of the water and used it on the plant which increased in size as expected. However, as soon as I thought I’d set the last phase of the game in motion, I found myself totally stuck once again.
Not how you do it!
This time it was the telescope that gave me so much trouble. As soon as I saw it I knew its purpose was to read the tiny scrawled message on the wall in Edna’s storage room, but after entering my dime into the control panel and turning it either left or right, I simply couldn’t see anything useful through it. It soon became apparent that I was going to need more dimes to turn it further, but I didn’t have the slightest clue where to find them. I thought I’d searched every single room in the mansion as well as I could, so I was a bit perplexed to find that I’d missed something somewhere along the way. I decided to spend some time focussing on the items in my inventory that had served no purpose to date (in particular the package, manuscript and stamps). The advertisement that constantly plays on the TV shows a publisher that claims they will publish any story sent to a particular address. I couldn’t see any reason why I should try to get the manuscript published, but since the only thing I’d used Wendy’s skills for since the beginning of the game was to edit the manuscript on the typewriter, I figured it must be for something. The stamps wouldn’t stick on the manuscript itself, so it seemed logical that I needed to find something to put the manuscript in to send it to the publishers. This led me to focus on the package I’d intercepted on delivery to Ed, which inadvertently led me to the dimes I needed.
There are a few novels I've read that may have passed through 222 Skyscraper Way at some point.
Any attempts to open the package received a message stating that it would be illegal to do so. Getting desperate, I got the boneheaded idea that if I could actually deliver the package to Ed now that I’d removed the stamps from it, I could then somehow recover the empty box and in turn use that to send the manuscript to the publisher. Thinking about it now, that doesn’t make sense at all, as why would you take the stamps off the box and then put them back on to send an item later, but as I said, I was getting desperate. I decided to go outside and knock on the door and try to give him the package to see what would happen. Needless to say, he didn’t accept it and told me to get lost, but when the view temporarily switched to his room, I noticed the piggy bank sitting there on the drawer, undoubtedly containing the dimes I needed to move the telescope. I’d been in his room earlier and stolen the hamster and card key, but since my attempts to pick up the piggy bank at the time failed, I’d simply moved on and forgotten about it. Now that I needed coins though, I could think of nothing else! I rang the doorbell again and while Ed was coming down to the door, I sent Bernard into the room to try to do something with the piggy bank. It turns out that selecting the verb “open” and then clicking the pig causes Bernard to break it, therefore gaining access to the dimes. Using the dimes in the telescope did exactly what I thought it would and I soon had the code I needed to get through the inner cell door and into the secret lab!
If I had a dime for every time I got stuck in Maniac Mansion, I would have got stuck at least one less time
Of course getting through the outer and inner cell doors is not the only way to get out of the dungeon. If you’ve read my previous posts for the game you’ll know that I’ve struggled, despite everyone telling me the solution is fairly obvious (and in fact that there are multiple solutions), to find a way out of the dungeon. Well, I did eventually find one of the ways out, but it happened totally unintentionally! It’s hard for me to actually talk about it yet (too soon!), but you get out of the dungeon using the rusty key, which I’ve had in my possession for many days now. That’s right, you read that correctly! All I needed to do was use the rusty key on the dungeon door to get one of my captured characters out of the dungeon instead of reloading! This is very clearly an example of a major face-palm, but…I blame the game for this one, at least partially! I haven’t been able to be particularly negative about much during my time with Maniac Mansion, but I’m going to be now, as this little problem clearly caused me to not only fail to see something right in front of me, it also made me look like a complete fool in front of my adoring fans, simultaneously lowering their perception of my brilliance by a significant amount! Jokes aside, over all my sessions of Maniac Mansion game time, I’d never once found a key that had multiple purposes. The key from under the mat only opens the front door, the silver key only opens the backdoor, etc. etc., so it made sense to me once I used the rusty key to open the rusty grate that I’d never need that key again. Except…
The old rusty key opens the old rusty grate. Pretty obvious right? Right??!!
…the rusty key didn’t actually open the rusty grate. After looking up a walkthrough (once I’d completed the game) to see where I’d gone wrong with the rusty key, it turns out that making my characters lift weights made them stronger, which allowed them to open the grate when they couldn’t previously. When I initially selected “open” and then clicked on the grate, the game told me I couldn’t budge it. When I later selected “unlock” and then clicked on the rusty grate, and then selected the rusty key in my inventory (forming the sentence “unlock rusty grate with rusty key”), the grate opened. I don’t think I can be blamed for thinking that it was the rusty key that opened it and not my newly buffed physique, and therefore, given the fact no other key is used for multiple purposes, I don’t think I can be blamed for not ever trying to use the rusty key on any other lock in the game. At least I didn’t until I decided to try every key I had on every lock I hadn’t unlocked, just to make sure one of them didn't just happen to serve multiple purposes. When I tried the rusty key on the locked door in the reactor room, it opened, and I soon found myself in the dungeon cell, with my palm firmly placed on my face. This confusion could easily have been avoided by either a) not allowing me to open the grate by using the key, as that actually had nothing to do with it or b) making it more obvious that my initial failure to open the grate was due to me not being strong enough (a “perhaps if you worked out a bit” style message wouldn’t have gone astray). The same can be said for the garage door incident described in the last post, which was also a result of a “working out” based puzzle not given enough clarity.
That's ok Dr Fred. I didn't have anything better to do today anyway. Let's be friends!
Gripe aside, Maniac Mansion was a thoroughly enjoyable and impressively pioneering adventure game that will unquestionably do pretty well when I apply a PISSED rating to it in the next day or so. Its interface, graphics, multiple characters, branching pathways and use of cut scenes were all revolutionary and yet somehow it didn’t collapse under its own weight. Obviously I’m not really in a position to be able to play through it again with different characters (I’m sure you’d all rather me move onto the next game instead of banging on about this one ad infinitum), but the fact that I want to is testament to both how enjoyable Maniac Mansion is and how replayable it is. I’m certain I haven’t used Wendy to the best of her abilities, as her skills never really came into play. I did end up sending the manuscript off and witnessed a cut scene of the publisher wanting to offer the meteor a million dollars for the rights, but I finished the game before anything further could play out on that front. I can only imagine that this might have led to another game winning solution, unless it somehow led to the one I experienced in some abstract way. I’ll have a look through some more walkthroughs before my Final Rating post, but from what I can tell, you can finish the game with only two characters, which is pretty much what I did, albeit unintentionally.
10 points to whoever can tell me how this would have played out had I not finished the game about two minutes later