Review by Skarr
"Behind the Tabloids: Zac McKracken."
Enter Zac McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, an point-and-click adventure game released in the late 80's by Lucasarts. But once you hit that power button, get ready for one of the most off-the-wall b-movie adventures ever thought up, ever since it's predecessor, Maniac Mansion.
You are Zac, your average tabloid journalist who suddenly comes upon an alien scheme to make all humans on Earth ALOT stupider with a little gadget of theirs which transmits mind-bending hums over the phone lines and such, thus, the Alien Mindbenders get to take Earth from right under our brainless noses. The aliens assume nobody will recognize them with a pair of ''nose glasses'', but even the aliens (who resemble the Aliens from the film 'Bad Taste', might I add) aren't the brightest light bulbs. Well, Zac goes unaffected miraculously, along with three other ''psychic'' buddies of his. Zac and his misadventures take him all over the globe, and even to the moon in this loony adventure to stop some stupid aliens from ''stupefying'' the whole planet!
The Script Creating Utilities for Maniac Mansion (SCUMM) adaption from the boys of Lucasarts is one of the niftiest things I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing in video games, also recognized in Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island series. Adding a list of ''commands'' (turn on, pick up, open, close, etc.) to the wonderful point-and-click genre has the gamer trying countless combinations of inventory usage and/or interaction with one's own items with the environment. The puzzles are also fun to solve, involving plugging up toilets on jumbo jets, fending off two-headed squirrels, and not to mention saving the world. Basically, this is another game that won't let you give up so fast.
For a game as early as this, the visuals are very well done, giving all the characters personality and the backgrounds some depth. There's even a moment where you can watch various news reports on your TV at home, and it looks good. This game is way ahead of its time, but that is perfectly OK by me.
Although my copy of Zac relied on the modem for SFX and music, it still sounded good, and given the time this game was made, it's quite an achievement when it comes to simple beeps and such. But most of the SFX were good, and in the correct places.
HUMOR FACTOR: 9/10
Tons of ridiculous adult humor are amuck here in Zac McKracken, all among the lines of Saturday Night Live material, especially Zac's cheesy tabloid heading ideas, and even some cruel black humor involving a goldfish and a garbage disposal, which earned this some criticism just like Maniac Mansion and its hamster tidbit. But there's quite a few funny portions, and even some inside jokes (the gas for the chainsaw from Maniac Mansion can be found in this game). It's also funny to see Zac do things like aggrivate a flight attendant, have super-odd dreams, address his lame job with horrid tabloid stories, and lots more. What's funny is if you are arrested in Katmandu, Zac's jailer will give the gamer a scolding lecture on video gaming, piracy, etc., ending his rant with some friendly thank you's. Very funny stuff here!
REPLAY FACTOR: 9/10
This doesn't have as many different endings as Maniac Mansion, but its still a blast to play over and over again, mainly for the gameplay, the humor, the TONS of possible things you can do in this game, and all the many places to explore.
Fans of puzzling, yet kooky adventure games among the lines of Maniac Mansion will certainly find the gold mine within Zac McKracken almost immediately, without feeling the need to turn the game off for anything. All the eye-candy, puzzles, places, humor and predicaments will nearly hold the gamer hostage and ask for demands. Zac McKracken, it is!
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/11/02, Updated 08/11/02
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