Maniac Mansion getting a big stupid collector’s box set is pretty much the type of event that Mixnmojo stays alive to witness, but it’s a little more of a novelty when the official Lucasfilm web site starts throwing conspicuous love bombs at the first SCUMM game.
With Josh Fairhurst of Limited Run Games on hand, Lucasfilm.com has taken the opportunity to publish a suitably reverent article about Maniac Mansion and the broader collaboration between the two companies that has resulted in all of these hugely
expensive exciting box sets.
Though Fairhurst grew up loving titles like Monkey Island, he first encountered Maniac Mansion later in his gaming life. “I love the humor. Maniac Mansion is genuinely funny,” he says. “I didn’t see that in a lot of games in the 2000s. Most were trying to be edgy and cool, but the older Lucasfilm Games titles had genuinely funny characters and situations.”
In a process that feels like digital archaeology, the Limited Run team mines the original data straight from the period game discs and cartridges, making necessary adjustments to create the refined, authentic version playable on modern computers and consoles (or in the case of the NES, a brand-new cartridge that plays on the original console).
“Maniac Mansion was available on the Commodore 64, Amiga, and DOS computers, among others” Fairhurst explains. “If you put the screenshots next to each other, they may not seem that wildly different, but there are nuances between each version, and players have emotions tied to specific versions depending on which one they played as a kid. We include back-ups of every possible version so there’s a way to experience each one. These boxes became sort of archive for each game, with every version on a USB drive.”
In addition to the game itself, these limited-edition box sets feature a number of enticing items, including both recreations of original materials and brand-new surprises. In addition to a lenticular pin that portrays a Maniac Mansion hidden moment, the different boxed sets also include their respective soundtracks. “We record them straight from the actual hardware itself,” Fairhurst notes, “so the NES soundtrack comes right from the cartridge. It’s the same with the PC version, though we can also use an emulator. It’s all about accuracy.”
Another included piece is a double-sided poster featuring in-game artwork and a portrait of the Edison family seen originally on the game’s packaging (and painted by iconic artist Steve Purcell). Limited Run was able to offer up this artwork with the help of superfan Jan Hofmesiter who dedicates his time to digitally restoring pieces of Lucasfilm game art. “It speaks to how meaningful these games are to fans,” says Fairhurst. “They’re willing to put in the time to help preserve these materials and celebrate them.”
Every possible version on the USB drive? Jan thanked by his full name, as something other than a footnote, and only slightly mispelled? Maybe they're onto something over there.