Together Retro Game Club: Maniac Mansion / Crush Series

Presented by Dsheniem

New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club

For this spooky October installment of Together Retro, we are going to provide you with a classic “drive-in double bill” of horror-tinged classic games. Both should provide you with ample chills and thrills to last all month, and both are worth playing time and again.

For a bit of a change, we’re going to break them down side by side this month!

Overview

Maniac Mansion Crush Series
This classic 1987 point and click adventure title is often seen as the first in a long series of successful LucasArts games published in the genre from the late 1980s into the mid 1990s. The game was written by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, who populated the title with horror movie references and tropes, nods to comic books and literature, and lots of original ideas to create what is still regarded by many as the pinnacle of “haunted house” style video games. The Crush series of pinball games launched in 1988 on the PC Engine/Turbografx-16 with Alien Crush, a sci-fi tinged title with graphics seemingly inspired by H.R. Giger.  It quickly spawned two horror/occult themed 16-bit system sequels – Devil’s Crush (aka “Dragon’s Fury”) and Jaki Crush.  This trilogy is the focus of this month’s Together Retro, as all three were developed by Naxat. The games each feature bosses and objectives on each table as well as traditional score-based pinball play. They also have fantastic soundtracks.

Story

Maniac Mansion Crush Series
Since the game is story-driven and accounts for much of the enjoyment to be had from the title, the less known up front the better.  Suffice to say it involves the titular mansion, a mad scientist, and several unwitting teenagers. The way these ideas are combined is game writing par excellence! They are pinball games, so any relevant story is sparse or nonexistent. Though the games are “sequels” they can be enjoyed and played in any order.

Controls

Maniac Mansion Crush Series
As a point and click game, the controls are very basic. The game is probably best experienced with a mouse as designed, but many of the ports (such as the NES port) make do with d-pad support and can be enjoyable in their own right. Much like Maniac Mansion, the controls are simple and intuitive across all ports.

Legacy

Maniac Mansion Crush Series
The game received an also-excellent sequel entitled “Day of the Tentacle” in 1993.  Gilbert and Winnick went on to work on several other well-regarded LucasArts games (such as the “Secret of Monkey Island”). A sequel to Devil’s Crush entitled “Dragon’s Fury” was released on the Genesis but not developed by Naxat (though it it borrows a lot of ideas from the main series). A modern follow up – Alien Crush Returns  – was released in 2008 as a WiiWare title.  It is not very good.

Recommended Ports

Maniac Mansion Crush Series
The PC/DOS v2 version is probably your best bet for playing this game if you can get a hold of a copy. It unfortunately is not available via standard digital services like Steam or Good Old Games, though there are versions of the fan-made “Maniac Mansion Deluxe” (aka “Maniac Mansion Enhanced”) which features updated graphics available from many legitimate download services.Otherwise, your next best bet will likely by the NES version which is generally regarded as a solid port even though it features some censorship of content that was included in the original.There are also versions available for the Famicom, C64, Apple II, and DOS v1 – the quality of these ports varies a little bit but generally is not as good as the Amiga/Atari ST/DOS v2 version. If you can play the original Japanese versions of Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush on the PCE you are getting the best version of those games as they were designed for that platform and contain no censorship.Alien Crush and Devil Crush appeared on the Turbografx-16 in North America, and Devil’s Crush was ported as “Dragon’s Fury” to the Sega Genesis Mega Drive.  Jaki Crush was only released on the Super Famicom and was never ported elsewhere or localized.Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush were ported to the Wii Virtual Console in all territories.

Alien Crush is available on the PSN in North America and Japan and Devil’s Crush is available on the Japanese PSN.

Further reading on both titles can be found at Hardcore Gaming 101: Maniac Mansion and Crush Pinball.

Discussion

As always, we’ll be discussing these frighteningly good games in the forums. Come join us to let us know how you’re progressing, share high scores, or otherwise discuss this month’s titles.

Comments are closed.