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Everything posted by Udvarnoky

  1. EMI probably goes in for more adolescent humor on balance than the other games, but at the same time it may also be the most literate. (A reference to The Illywacker?) It's yet another facet of that game's maddening/delightful all-over-the-placeness. With a chuckle, I am reminded of the exasperation of Randy Sluganski (RIP) in his review of the game:
  2. Having it all laid out in this thread, it's amazing how compromised VGA CD is. I grew up on VGA Floppy*, and when I experienced VGA CD I disliked every single alteration and never went back to it. Truly, the original Special Edition. *I still think it's an excellent version of the game, but have since joined the righteous in recognizing that EGA is the one true messiah.
  3. As I was exposed to this game (and indeed, the SCUMM catalog as a whole) through the NES version, the "irradiated" Edisons was always my preferred flavor. Maybe losing that nuclear reactor restored some skin health by the time of DOTT. That's fascinating, @dwa, about the enhanced version being included in DOTT for non-English releases. It makes it even more of a mystery to me why they would go with the older graphics version stateside when the update had become the defacto version by then. I wonder if the team just preferred the synchronicity of the flesh-colored Edisons or simply the idea of going full vintage. I also wondered if maybe the negligible difference in size between v1 and v2 was not so negligible in the context of DOTT's floppy disk release, but I guess we can rule that out. How is the enhanced version "cracked" in non-English DOTT? Is the security door forced open there as well?
  4. I’ve noticed sometimes in conversation that there’s confusion, which I share in, about how many distinct versions of Maniac Mansion there are, partially because of the way they’ve come to be labeled. Specifically, you’ll often see the computer versions bisected into “v1” and “v2”. When people use those terms, they tend to be talking about the two main graphic representations of the game, also commonly referred to as “original” and “enhanced” (and sometimes, “low-resolution” vs. “high-resolution”). Despite the implication, there are in fact more than two versions of the game, even if you limit the scope to computer releases. I thought I’d try to lay them all out. The impetus for digging into this was really for me to get a handle on the release history of Maniac Mansion myself, but why not destroy other people’s time by sharing what I’ve learned? A bit of housekeeping: The packaging images are taken from The LucasArts Museum, where you can find photos of virtually every printing, inside and out. Screenshots come from MobyGames. Grab a can of Pepsi and some wax fruit and let’s begin… Release #1 The original release of Maniac Mansion was published for the Commodore 64 and Apple II in the fall of 1987. Nailing down exact release dates for older games can be tricky, but it seems it was a simultaneous release for both platforms in October. Here’s the front/back of the C64 box: And below are some screenshots from the C64 version. The Apple II presentation is a bit jankier, but they fundamentally have same graphics. Amusing trivia about the packaging: The spiel on the back of the box caused a bit of a ruckus due to its use of the word “lust” in that list of nouns on the right. Apparently, a parent shopping at Toys R Us noticed it, dropped dramatically upon their fainting chair, and complained to management about the obscenity that had been unleashed unto children. The retailer banned the product from their shelves, and thus marketing cleaned up their act for all subsequent releases. Release #2 A couple of months later, in early 1988, the game was ported to IBM PCs (and since MS-DOS was the operating system, this is interchangeably referred to as a DOS port) as well as re-released on the Commodore 64. Here’s the front/back packaging of this release: Note that the back is redesigned. In terms of graphics, this release is nearly identical to the first release, and thus falls under the umbrella of the “v1” designation. Notably, the logo has been re-imagined into its more familiar “meteor tails” design, as you can see on the box along with a new tagline. The logo change is reflected in-game, on the character selection screen and opening sequence: There are other, more subtle visual differences compared to the original C64 version, but logo aside, screenshots from this release are virtually identical to the first release. On the audio side, the game is a bit quieter than the 1987 version, which had constant crickets in exteriors as well as a sound effect for the characters walking. Maybe these ever-present sounds were deemed annoying? Who knows. Also, when I look at a playthrough of the original C64 version, I find that the characters walk at a decent clip and the cursor movements are silky-smooth, whereas this DOS version was always painfully slow in that regard. I think ScummVM “fixes” the walk speed, but if you play this version authentically (either on an actual DOS machine or via emulator like DREAMM or DOSBox) you’ll experience the choppiness I’m talking about. Finally, the IBM version of this release introduced the “Nuke’em Alarms” copy protection, which C64 and Apple II versions never had. Instead, the door ahead of you upon reaching the second floor landing is just a regular door. Release #3 Finally, in 1989, the game was released yet again, this time with enhanced graphics (which is what people tend to mean when they talk about “v2”). In addition to being a re-release for IBM and Apple II, the game was further ported to Amiga and Atari ST with this version. Here is the front/back of the packaging, which features the familiar marble border typical of Lucasfilm Games titles from this period. Notice the studio came up with yet a third tagline, and gave Ron and Gary movie-director-style named credits that the studio came to take pride in. Note also that the rear packaging also has an all-new design, featuring an amazing oil painting of the Edison Family portrait by Steve Purcell. (I’ll also point out, since it’s sometimes misattributed, that Purcell is not responsible for the cover art for Maniac Mansion – that credit goes to Ken Macklin.) Here are a few screenshots from this version, which is probably the most familiar one in the PC realm: Note when comparing the graphics that this isn’t an EGA vs. VGA situation like with Indy 3, Loom and Monkey 1. The “enhanced” version of Maniac Mansion is characterized by higher resolution compared to the original, which allowed things to be rendered in a bit more detail. Noteworthy about this version is that the Edisons are depicted as having green skin. The Nintendo port carried on that idea, while Day of the Tentacle opted to revert the family to flesh color. As the credits on these old games aren’t great, I am not sure who drew the enhanced graphics – perhaps it was Gary Winnick himself? Later in 1989, this exact same version of the game was reprinted in a budget release for IBM – same box, but with less paraphernalia inside (no dormitory bulletin board poster!), a single 3.5” diskette (IBM customers got both a 3.5” and a 5.25” in the preceding package) and cheaper printing choices for the manual(s) and diskette label. There were a couple of other games that received this kind of budget reprinting that year, including Indy 3. You can compare the contents of the full-bodied version here with the cheapo version here. The "enhanced" version of the game is also what was found in the Classic Adventures pack (a compilation of the first five SCUMM games) in 1992. However, the version included as an Easter Egg in Day of the Tentacle (1993) was the “original graphics” DOS version (1988). In Day of the Tentacle Remastered, they decided to make the game-within-a-game the “enhanced” version instead. Today, When you buy Maniac Mansion standalone from Steam or GOG, it’ll launch by default as the “enhanced graphics” version (which by now has come to specifically mean the 1989 DOS port), but if you back out of the game to the ScummVM launcher, you’ll find that you have the data files for the “original graphics” version (which by now has come to specifically mean the 1988 DOS port) as well. Unfortunately, as with all the SCUMM games offered on digital storefronts that come bundled with ScummVM, you don’t get the native interpreter. The Console Ports The first console release was for the Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the NES) in 1988. Its development outsourced to Jaleco (which also published it), it’s a version of the game notorious for its general weirdness. Perhaps that weirdness is why, when LucasArts decided to make an NES version in 1990, they opted to start over with their own 8-bit attempt rather than simply translating this release. While Jaleco remained the publisher of this port, it was developed by Realtime Associates in collaboration with LucasArts itself, and thus was a much better adaptation, censorship courtesy of a flexing Nintendo of America aside. Trivia: Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, and Jennifer Sward all served as “object taggers” on this port during their SCUMMlette days – it may be the first credited role for all three of them. On the mythbusting front: You might have heard that Nintendo discovered the infamous hamster-nuking feature after the fact and forced its removal, thus making the pre-crackdown cartridges rare. This is only partially true. Nintendo did in fact discover the feature only after the game shipped in America, did in fact pitch a fit, and did in fact order that all subsequent printings remove it. However, the game didn’t sell well enough in the U.S. to justify a second printing (though the initial printing was a large one, I think of a quarter of a million units), so the removal only got applied to the international releases. Therefore, all U.S. copies have the feature, and all non-U.S. copies do not. The hamster-nuking cartridges are not rare, merely regional. Maniac Mansion Deluxe This is the fan-made VGA makeover that was released in 2004. It also removes some dead-ends that plagued the original game and adds a lot of observational dialog. (As the original game had a “Read” verb instead of “Look at”, there was unfortunately barely any incidental dialog.) I point this version out because the 256-color treatment is so tastefully done (and looking very Thimbleweek Park-esque indeed) that it’s sometimes mistaken for official. But the “enhanced graphics” release from 1989 is the last version of Maniac Mansion officially produced. At least, until they let Ron loose on a special edition…
  5. Yup, it's only VGA CD that removes the stump joke, and unfortunately that's the one the Special Edition presents as Classic Mode. It also tosses in a dubious music track for Stan's once silent shipyard for no added charge.
  6. I think when EGA is called definitive it's simply an acknowledgement of the fact that it's the game that originally shipped. The 16-color version is what Monkey Island 1's art team created. Everything after is revisionism by definition, which doesn't mean it can't be preferred. A factor here is that the original version was actively made scarce by the studio. The 256 color version (though I'd distinguish VGA floppy from VGA CD) is realistically the version the majority of us were initially exposed to, because it's the one LEC pretty much exclusively sold thereafter. The choice was kind of made for us, similar to how it was made for people who became exposed to the first two games through the special editions. According to that game, VGA CD is "classic mode," further shoving EGA out of awareness. I don't remember Ron's exact quote about the VGA closeups, but I think his misgivings were more about the fact that the original closeups were more consonant with the style of the surrounding game.
  7. I dunno, they seem to find themselves "attacked" wherever they make port. The oppression must just be that targeted.
  8. No. That actor passed away almost twenty years ago. Goodsoup and Velasco are forever, though.
  9. Are you referring to the voice direction? My memory is faint on whether they gilded the lily in that regard, but I definitely remember how awkward a choice it was that Denny Delk was made to narrate those supertitles.
  10. I value EMI precisely because of its weirdness. It seems somehow to get the alchemy wrong, in a way that's not easily definable. Its flaws aren't enough to totally sink it in my view, but just enough to ensure it'll always be an odd duck and the subject of fierce debate til kingdom come. That's fun! The Monkey Island games demand a tonal balance that's not easy to strike. They have always presented a world that was self-aware, surrealistic and not above abusing logic for the sake of a joke. (Think of non-sequiturs like Herman Toothrot revealing he had an escape ship all along, or his representation by lawyers via letter-in-a-bottle in his ongoing litigation against the cannibals. Some say the Tremendous Yak and Heavily Armed Clown still rove behind the walls of the governor's mansion to this day.) It seems crazy to call the world "grounded." But I think what was eventually learned is that at some base level the world needs to take itself seriously enough to work up some level of mystery and atmosphere. That was something the previous games definitely had, and which EMI definitely fell short of (despite pockets here and there, often with a huge assist from the music). EMI really brings the lampoonery to the forefront, and I think that handicapped immersion somewhat as a side effect. (And on top of everything, the art direction combined with the limitations of the 3D tech gave the game an overall plastic-y look that compounded the issue.) It turns out fans buy these games because to some extent they want to experience a "legitimate" pirate adventure, even if it's one laden with fourth wall winks and cartoonish swerves and vending machines. But there's no magic formula for riding that line successfully. Heck, some people criticize CMI for the perception that it goes too far the other way, by being too reticent to embrace the ramifications of MI2. I've never really agreed with that (it's still a pirate game that ends at an amusement park), but the variety in the reactions goes to show that it's a tricky business. And in defense of EMI, there seems to be some recognition by the game itself that it was kind of taking a wild turn that wasn't meant to sustain more than one installment. The game ends with Guybrush and Elaine almost literally saying, "Okay, this weird detour where we were acting heads of state has run its course, so it's back to the old ways." I think EMI tried something bold and even a little reckless and wasn't 100% successful at it, but I think it's endlessly fascinating. And for all the complaints that it trashed the joint by retconning backstories and re-envisioning beloved locales, I really think in the end it did no meaningful harm. I have a suspicion that ReMI will make that even more clear than it is now.
  11. I believe EMI addresses this by saying the catacombs mysteriously sealed up. So the control room didn't replace the caverns -- it was some other, secret hatch opened by the Ultimate Insult. I mean, it's the most hand-wavey explanation ever, but it's there.
  12. There is no law barring you from introducing someone to the Monkey Island series with the special editions. There just should be.
  13. My guess is that EMI running roughshod over established geography and playing things loose with canon in general wasn’t an issue of carelessness or the team not doing their research. I think they knew what they were blowing up, and simply thought it was fair game to do so in the fourth installment of a ten-year-old series. I think they honestly misjudged how sacred fans hold some of these things. Stemmle and Clark brought a certain amount of Sam & Max flavor to EMI, and maybe it was underestimated how awkward a fit the more irreverent mentality would be. Maybe it took EMI going a little too far to find out where the limits were. Consider also that Day of the Tentacle was exponentially more irreverent toward “The Maniac Mansion Universe” (if we must) and that the game didn’t merely get away with it, but was rewarded by being the one the majority of people seem to associate with that property. There’s not much of a common denominator in the art style, mansion geography, or overall tone between DOTT and Maniac Mansion, but there’s not much complaining about it either. EMI, just the opposite. It’s sort of interesting to ponder why.
  14. Well, I suppose by that I mean, did Lucasfilm find the original printing assets to run off "genuine recreations." At first blush all this stuff looks like bootleg merchandise, but on the other hand we have precedent of Lucasfilm using fan-based reproductions for official use, and we have a Lucasfilm rep promoting it. The fact that this stuff comes off as scummy and cheap doesn't necessarily mean it didn't get some sort of blessing. Mostly though I'm just interested in any evidence that Lucasfilm has hung on to vintage marketing assets.
  15. The only item of any interest is the long-sleeved shirt that resembles the one sold through the company store in 1990. I suppose that's just imitation as well?
  16. Man, if this was authorized and still based on @Laserschwert's work uncompensated then that's some military grade "thx Jan" right there.
  17. Cool to hear about all the positive experiences people have had with Larry. He's always been a great interview. If anyone walks away from the CMI interview hungry for more, I can recommend the one he gave Adventure Classic Gaming in 2012 and the two parter conducted by Genesis Temple last year. Along with Mike Levine he also participated in a Mojo postmortem on Insecticide in 2018. And [never] forget The SCUMM Bar for the real legacy stuff.
  18. Jonathan Ackley has been sharing developer memories on Twitter throughout the year, including many about The Curse of Monkey Island. We had thought to embed these tweets throughout our new CMI interview, but the idea proved to be impractical. Since we’d gone to the trouble of collecting all those URLs, though, I thought I’d put them all here. Taken in aggregate they’re practically an article unto themselves, and they’d be otherwise inaccessible to those of us without Twitter: https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1487145415711420419 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1487199807693221890 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1487247707857043456 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1487487658544668673 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1487891726890983426 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1488673416525746177 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1488674191230390275 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1488674554897571846 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1490342581657427975 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1488672930561097732 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1490343063645872128 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1490343316004610050 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1490343930117824522 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1490344353792880642 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1490344758337683460 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1491978257368973313 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1492159504917549057 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1492663745876684800 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1493240973672939520 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1493264687718285313 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1493747722586779654 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1494025906641260545 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1494528958926184448 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1495268944369704962 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1496909302262423553 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1503755841488531460 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1507425120586924038 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1510035777350037506 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1511500601229656066 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1511956648226480138 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1515130237083799552 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1516933414913396736 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1518239188960768002 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1519436155560812544 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1520478121908379648 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1520991257073360899 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1521489481119019009 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1524838588235784192 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1524922568750211072 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1528746361646030848 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1528892976499286016 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1533133083502817281 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1533153572744929280 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1544731668056928257 https://twitter.com/ackley_jonathan/status/1545222501327781888
  19. It's interesting because Telltale removing inventory combination from the beginning felt like a conscious part of their "streamline the interface" philosophy. LucasArts did the same thing at turns, only for a Monkey Island sequel to come along and "regress" by accomodating the feature anew. TMI similarly felt like deference to tradition. I don't know if that was Dave's influence or not. I seem to recall an interview with him from the earliest days of Telltale (I had thought it might be this one with Frank Cifaldi, but I cannot find the quote I'm looking for) where he said something to the effect that he more than anyone was in favor of leaving that behind.
  20. Since none of the original artists were part of the VGA version, it makes me wonder if Gary Winnick himself did the "high-resolution" version of Maniac Mansion. The credits are kind of weak on the really old games.
  21. For those interested in names, the original art team is credited as follows: Backgrounds: Steve Purcell, Mark Ferrari, Mike Ebert Animation: Steve Purcell, Mike Ebert, Martin Cameron as "Bucky" The subsequent VGA conversion is credited to the following people: -Tami Borowick -James Dollar -Bill Eaken -Avril Harrison -Iain McCaig -Jim McLeod -Michael Stemmle -Sean Turner In an old interview we did with Eaken, he remembered that the process was given about a month, which may explain why LEC unleashed such an army of people at the conversion, though the fact that programmers are among those names may suggest that some of those folks were doing touchup or technical work.
  22. Wait, sorry. Turns out I'm interpreting it wrong. This logo is actually trying to remind me that I can dare the opposing team for double the dollars, or take the physical challenge.
  23. The logo that takes the trouble to prepare itself for being ISO comfort-rated.
  24. This seems dubious to me. The box art strikes me as more of an exercise in hypothetical movie poster art than anything else. Ultimately, the only safe interpetation of how the game "should" look is how it actually looks.
  25. Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein took the concept even further in Mata Hari, as I recall. Personally, I don't think Autumn Moon's version amounts to much, because it solves a problem that never really existed. How many people were actually complaining about the improbableness of adventure game protagonists fitting all that stuff in their pants? Having to wait for a cutscene of Mona going retrieve the shovel she was only willing to "remember" earlier seems like a steep price to pay to throw a superficial bone at realism...especially in a cartoon. In the end, it feels like an inconsequential feature.
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