Adventure games, like the moon, have waxed and waned over the course of video game history. One of the high points for the genre was in the late 80s/early 90s when companies like LucasArts (then known as LucasFilm Games) began to improve on the genre’s text-based origins by adding richly detailed environments the player could interact with.
The torchbearer for this new wave of adventure games was LucasFilm’s Maniac Mansion, the brainchild of renowned developer Ron Gilbert. Mansion is an homage to the teen horror movies of the 80s (think Friday the 13th). Players control a group of teenagers trying to rescue one of their own from the mansion of a mad scientist and his depraved family.
The game is notably dark in spite of its humor. The player has the ability to control five distinct characters, and they can easily fall victim to the perils of the mansion. Characters can die, in which case the player must choose from one of the remaining characters to continue. There are multiple endings depending on which characters survive, and it is possible for all of them to die.
Maniac Mansion was originally released for the PC, and that first version contained a great deal of suggestive humor that Nintendo did not consider acceptable. As such, the NES version removed many of the more adult jokes in the game, though the overall sense of humor remains. Nowadays, you can play Maniac Mansion for free thanks to The Internet Archive browser-based emulator.