Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A screenshot of Zak McKracken, PC version.

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders is a graphical adventure game, originally released in 1988, published by LucasArts (known at the time as Lucasfilm Games). It was the second game to use the SCUMM engine, after Maniac Mansion.

Originally released on the Commodore 64, it was later ported to the Amiga, Atari ST, and PC with EGA graphics. A version was later ported to the oddball Japanese FM Towns system, this one with VGA graphics and CD music. The project was led by David Fox and co-designed and programmed by Matthew Kane.



The plot follows Zak, a writer for trash newspaper the National Inquisitor, and Annie Larris, Melissa China and Leslie Bennett, three Yale coed students, in their attempt to destroy a machine created by nefarious aliens, the Caponians, that is slowly reducing the intelligence of everybody on Earth.

Luckily, the Skolarians, an ancient alien race, have left on Earth the parts of a machine that will un-do the Caponian machine. The parts are spread all over the world, and Mars.

The game was heavily based on the popular theories about aliens, ancient astronauts and mysterious civilisations. The places visited in the game, are those very favourable of this kind of literature, like the pyramids of Egypt and Lima, Stonehenge, Atlantis, a space cadillac with Elvis and eventually the Face on Mars. The general New Age feeling is very obvious since players will meet also gurus and a shaman who hold the secret knowledge of all these. All this is no accident. David Fox, the lead designer and programmer, intended to make a more serious game. While designing the game, he spent some days with David Spangler, noted New Age writer. But during the design stage, Ron Gilbert persuaded Fox to increase the comedy angle.


In Maniac Mansion you could find a chainsaw but no fuel; in this game you can find chainsaw fuel but no chainsaw.

The three girls in the game are named after the programmers' wives or girlfriends. For example, Annie Larris was (and is) David Fox's wife, and the appearance of the game character is also inspired by her looks.

LucasFan Games

A number of fans, named LucasFan Games (, grouped together to create a free sequel of the game, using graphics from the Japanese 256 color version, country-specific backgrounds from 'King of Fighters', and some original art. The game was called The New Adventures of Zak McKracken ( but has failed to become popular with most fans, because of its limitations. As of April 2005, three other fan sequels are in varying stage of production.

See also

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