Sequel-itis: Maniac Mansion

Often credited with putting a spark into the graphic adventure genre, LucasArts’ Maniac Mansion is generally known to us twentysomethings as a text-supported adventure for the Nintendo Entertainment System – though even that game was just a port with some small alterations to consider. But even so, it was one of the more memorable games of the time, apparently popular enough to spawn a television adaptation and a sequel that both somehow fell along the wayside.

Nevertheless, a few years back, someone made a slightly updated version to the game, and even in today’s plethora of nerds and geeks there’s another attempt to recreate the game in a modern graphics attempt to not just replicate, but put their own twist on the game with added content.

While my childhood emotions are rustled enough by that notion, my mind also begs to know what a truly modern, re-imagined version of the game would look and play like. While there are certainly a number of options in terms of ways this game could be made, I’ve narrowed myself down to two distinct availabilities in terms of presentation and style.

Scenario One: Adventure-style Third Person
Developer: Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake,  Max Payne)

The story, atmosphere and action of Alan Wake is enough to convince me that Remedy could make a great redux on the MM story. Could they take the plunge and turn it into a full-on open-world experience? Sure. Episodes like Alan Wake? Why not. Take everything you’ve learned in making that world feel real and transfer it to the mansion and surrounding areas. Expand the story a little bit. Maybe add some prequel material to help explain things. This is arguably the most convincing possibility without turning this into a survival-horror game, something that would probably kill the story off in the process.

With this approach, you can still focus on the story while making sure things unfold when you want them to. You can have some creative liberties while still being able to put the game into a new perspective. On the other hand…

Scenario Two: RPG-spliced Third-person Adventure
Developer: BioWare

This is the totally crazy version. You take the third-person adventure of say, Mass Effect, and combine it with a smaller-scale mission-based style of gameplay. Throw in some of BioWare’s go-to storytelling tactics and conversation leverage, it would at least…. sound interesting. I ‘m not as entirely sold on taking it this far away from the original, but at least you know with BioWare that the story is going be to taken care of, right? I’m not sure how they’d fare on something darker and perhaps horror-hinged, but it might be worth a shot.

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That being said, retro remakes are always a touchy subject. Maniac Mansion would be no different. But whether the true-to-gameplay redo sounds like a welcome revisit or you’d be open to someone else taking a shot at giving us a second style to consider in playing the game, you have to at least admit it would be worth daydreaming about. That, and well, purple slime.

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Author: Jason Gardner View all posts by

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