“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”
“The following is a guest post by The Midnight Mystic Mage.”
Day of the Tentacle (originally released in 1993) is a game that I had not played before this remastered version. However the beautiful animation that was almost like a 90’s cartoon come to life and the silly humor were more than enough to keep me hooked from beginning to end. I’ll come right out and say it, I had to use a walkthrough for this game. Some of the puzzles were incredibly tough and I have no shame in throwing that out there. It did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the game though, in fact I liked it so much that I have changed my laptop wallpaper to the one offered by the official site for the game.
I think The Well-Red Mage said it best when he described the humor in this game as “Dad Jokes”. They make you laugh and cringe at the same time, which is not the type of humor everybody is into so be aware that things do get quite a bit cheesy.
So onto the game, you play as a group of three that find themselves in quite the perilous situations. Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne are palling around with a bit of a mad scientist named Dr. Fred Edison. This lands them a trip in the time machine to three separate destinations (one of which being the present) and from there it is time to point and click adventure your way back to the present day with all characters and defeat the tentacle foes!
So what is it with these tentacles? Well there is an evil purple tentacle and a chill green tentacle who wants nothing to do with Purple’s world domination plot. Green calls in a favor to Bernard to stop Dr. Fred from putting him down along with Purple, thus allowing Purple to escape and getting the lot of them into the whole situation.
Day of the Tentacle is the sequel to Maniac Mansion, a game that I haven’t played through entirely but I really enjoyed the bit that I did play. The amazing part about my time playing Maniac Mansion? It happened right there on Day of the Tentacle Remastered!
The full game is available on an in-game computer and I was hooked all the way until I got very stuck and decided I should get back to the main game. I am not sure if this was a feature in the original before the remaster, but I thought that was an incredible addition to the game. I actually didn’t even know that Day of the Tentacle was a sequel at all until doing some research after completing the game. I did notice the subtle similarities between the games and assumed there had to be some sort of connection between the two.
There is some really cool functionality with the three characters being in different times in Day of the Tentacle, you are able to send objects back and forth between the times as you desire and objects you get in one time may be necessary to move on in the other. Hoagie finds himself back in colonial times with the nation’s founding fathers among other characters and figures, Bernard is in the present with Dr. Fred, and Laverne is in the dystopian future with the tentacle overlords. It is easy to swap back and forth between the three by a simple click on the picture of the character in your items menu.
The studio behind the magic is LucasArts and the two co-leaders of the game’s development were Dave Grossman and the legendary Tim Schafer. Grossman was a part of The Secret of Monkey Island games, as well as Sam & Max, Telltale’s Back To The Future amongst others. Schafer is now the head of Double Fine who published the remaster had also worked on many of the heavy hitter LucasArts games, Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Costume Quest, he’s Tim F’n Schafer what more can I say. The two knew how to make an enjoyable and successful point and click style adventure game, and this one was a bright and shining example of those talents.
Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick were the original developers of Maniac Mansion and the two did collaborate in the making of this game as well. The time travel idea can be attributed solely to Gilbert which in my opinion is what really makes this game stand out from others of the kind. Gary Winnick was a major player in LucasArts games as well, helping out with Zak McKracken, Secret of Monkey Island, and many others. He and Gilbert have actually worked on a very recent game titled Thimbleweed Park that was just released in March. I have had my eye on that one, it is supposed to be in the same style as the old LucasArts games and has received high praise since its release.
The cartoon style that I mentioned earlier was said to be inspired by the cartoons of Chuck Jones. Some of the characters on his list of contributions include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, Porky Pig, and The Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote. Another interesting tidbit about the game is that it was released simultaneously on floppy disk and CD-ROM. It definitely shows the age of the game for it to have been released on floppy. I personally never played games on floppy’s but do remember using them for some different things early on, mostly in school.
If Fallout 4 was released on floppy disks it would have taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 of them to store it and somewhere around 42 days to install. That is if you were to have a next to impossible computer setup costing $211,000 dollars, just to put into perspective how radically of a different time for gaming this was developed in. Credits to Yanrogue on Reddit for those awesome stats, check out the rest of that post here.
That should about sum things up for this section, next I will be getting into my 8-bit review.
The 8-Bit Review
The cartoon-ish graphics and inspired design were really a high point for this game. I believe it was one of the factors that caused me to gravitate towards it in the first place and was certainly part of what kept me playing it once I started. It is always a plus to find a game that I can play in front of the kids and see that they enjoy it as well. The beautifully illustrated scenes of this game hit that note right on the money.
The audio content of the game was not sub par, but it did not really wow me in any aspect. The voice acting fit the characters and the game’s goofy style. I am sure that the voice acting was much better than many of the other games from that time, but not having played many others like it I do not have a good way to put that into perspective. The music was composed by Peter McConnell, Michael Land and Clint Bajakian who had worked together on The Secret of Monkey Island 2. Check out a sample of what some of the game’s music sounds like.
The puzzles were usually just right, not too difficult while still remaining challenging. There were other times though when I could flip back and forth between all the characters while searching all throughout the areas without having a clue what I needed to do next. Finally I decided I liked the game too much to allow my being stumped to keep me from continuing and finishing it so I gave in to the walkthrough to aid me when I needed the extra help.
Not the greatest story of all time by any means, but it had some funny ideas and I really loved the characters. Even with the help of such characters as Bernard, Hoagie, and Green Tentacle though I feel that the narrative is just not the driving force behind this game. The humor, the great execution of the point and click adventure style, and the beautiful visuals are enough to make up for the other areas that the game is lacking. In what other game do you get to see tentacles take over the world and domesticate humans though? You have got to hand it to them there.
I felt like there might have been a better way to decide what to do with each object when you select them. I am not sure what that way is exactly, but it does get annoying having to decide every time whether I want to push, pull, pick up, etc. each object when much of them times half of the actions just don’t make sense with the object. The menus were very accessible though and the swapping between characters was effortless. From what I have seen in pictures of the original before the remaster the menus and screens appear to be a bit stepped up which is great.
It is always an incredible feeling when you finally realize how to use an object or think of how to combine to objects and use them for a task. There were times when I would put it down and walk away only to have a eureka moment while watching TV or helping with the kids. It takes a bit of thinking and sometimes, as I have already mentioned, the next step would just perplex me for so long that I had to give in to the game guide temptation.
I absolutely loved the time travel idea and I felt that it gave the game a very unique identity that separated it from any other adventure game that I have played in the past. The art style was also much unlike any other cartoony game that I had seen and I was quite impressed by it. There are a handful of things about the game that really make it something to behold and unlike all the other games of the genre that I am aware of.
My Personal Grade: 7/10
One of my favorite point and click adventure games that I have played and one with a twist that keeps the game interesting throughout. It definitely excites me to play the rest of the LucasArts games such as Grim Fandango that I already have but have not been able to get around to yet. For fans of the genre who can handle some goofy humor, it is one that I would highly recommend to you.
Aggregated Score: 6.6
The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of games, books, and film, and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!
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Categories: Game Review