Back in 2014, when I paid a visit to the GoG offices in Warsaw, Poland, then-CEO Guillaume Rambourg called Maniac Mansion the “holy grail” of classic video games. That title, as well as The Curse of Monkey Island, are now finally on both GoG and Steam, where Maniac Mansion has been available for a while now.
Maniac Mansion was the first “SCUMM” game, which refers to a proprietary point-and-click game engine built by Lucasfilm Games (later LucasArts) in 1987. (It literally means Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion.) Prior to the introduction of SCUMM, players had to type in their commands such as “look tree” or “take book” and hope that somewhere, hidden in the back end of the program, was a correlating piece of the puzzle they were trying to solve. SCUMM simplified that system, removing the need for a keyboard and allowing players to use a mouse to select from a list of actions to perform.
The SCUMM-style of adventure games were reinvigorated recently with the release of Thimbleweed Park, now available for Windows PC and all three modern consoles, as well as iOS and Android. That game was created and built by Ron Gilbert, the same game designer that worked on both Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island series.
A recently released video essay from Innuendo Studios talks about the design relationship between the original The Secret of Monkey Island and Thimbleweed Park. We’ve embedded that below.