How hypocritical Nintendo ruined Maniac Mansion

Screenshot from Maniac Mansion

Ah, classic LucasArts adventure games. They’re a memory I cherish, and they’re something you ought to play if you were under the belief that games cannot be funny or have decent storylines. While the adventure gaming scene was dominated by giants like the Monkey Island games, the Indiana Jones games and the later released masterpiece, Grim Fandango, one of the forefathers of the LucasArts adventure games brand was Maniac Mansion.

The satirical game was one example of how games back then were art, not some stupid high-graphics shooting trash. Apparently, Nintendo didn’t like free, liberal art a lot, and opted for more nerfed games. This article from Douglas Crawford exposes Nintendo’s hypocrisy quite well. Nintendo wanted LA’s masterpiece on their NES, but they didn’t want any of the bad words and suggestive things. Of course, they’d rather that you kill creatures and people, but it’s bad to say the word kill or suck.

Some of the edits Nintendo required included the ones like the line
“getting your brains sucked out” being cut, or “For a good time EDNA 3444” replaced by “Call Edna 3444”. Their anti-nudity clause involved cutting out a humorous poster of a mummy, wrapped head-to-toe in bandages striking a Playboy pose.

The most ridiculous one is the removal of the term “NES SCUMM system”, which the engine on which the game ran. Nintendo’s reaction? “Yeah, but it says NES SCUMM. What will people think?” Grow up, Nintendo.

One of the most interesting points in the rather well-written article is this:

The standards go on to prohibit

depictions of excessive and gratuitous violence,

which would seem to ban any game in which your character met people, killed them, took their money, and then bought more weapons. But in fact most Nintendo games are still faithful to that theme, so we were unclear as to how to interpret Nintendo’s policy. In the Super Mario Bros games, which are considered clean and wholesome, kids routinely kill creatures, and the only motivation is that they are there.

At least most other games give you a reason to kill enemies. Nintendo screwed up Maniac Mansion on several reasons, and will probably not admit it, since screwed up is a sexually suggestive term and against Nintendo policy. If you, for any reason at all, played the NES port of Maniac Mansion, you’ve played a stunted, nerfed version of it and I ask of you to play the PC version ASAP.

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