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Day of the Tentacle – PC

Day of the Tentacle – PC

*Featured image credit goes to Yaguete.deviantart.com on @deviantART.

Platform: PC (MS-DOS)

Developer: LucasArts

Publisher: LucasArts

Directed by: Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer

Release Date (NA): June 25, 1993

Genre: Point and Click, Adventure

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Day of the Tentacle is a game that needs no introduction for anyone who grew up in the 80s/90s playing computer games. Destroy the evil purple tentacle and save the world? Sign me up, bub. Humor and puzzle-solving abound in this classic point-and-click adventure. If the soundtrack can leave you breathless, then the cartoony animated scenery will stop your heart. The LucasArts development team has shown what it means to truly perfect a genre.

Anybody who follows me here knows that I am a purist when it comes to gaming. I don’t emulate unless I absolutely have to! I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this disc in the CD section at Goodwill a few months back for $0.49. I don’t clean my truck often enough, so I actually forgot I had it until just a few days back when I found it under some fast food trash in the front passenger seat. I lead a pathetic and disgusting life sometimes, but I digress. Obviously my new computer can’t play the disc AS IS, so with some help from Nerd Bacon tech-wizard Variand, I was able to get Day of the Tentacle up and running just in time for this year’s Retroary! Take note, this is NOT an emulated version NOR is this the remastered version.

While it might not be much to look at today, this game was a decent visual specimen in its heyday. Viewing the stylistic cartoonish animation today reminds me of the absolutely wonderful creativity us gamers were blessed with during this growing era of at-home gaming. Developers were still experimenting and taking chances, even big name ones like LucasArts. Despite the prominent production billing, Day of the Tentacle never feels too much like a Triple-A title eschewing formulaic traps in favor of imagination, inspiration, and ingenuity. Although the game can be played in a linear fashion, I often felt more like I was playing in an open-world adventure game (with some obvious limits and restrictions)! Exploration is widely encouraged and there’s little more you’ll want to do than have conversations, pick up items, open doors, and find secrets!

Right from the get-go, you know Day of the Tentacle is going to be one wacky adventure. Dr. Edison’s lab helpers, two disembodied sentient mutant tentacles appropriately named Purple Tentacle and Green Tentacle, stumble upon an industrial facility dumping toxic waste into a river. Purple Tentacle decides he is thirsty and has a drink against his green friend’s advice. With suddenly sprouted arms, ever-growing intelligence, and devilish desires, Purple Tentacle hops off on his own to take over the world. Dr. Edison writes a letter to his old friend Bernard announcing that he has captured the tentacles and intends to kill them. Bernard and his roomates Lavern and Hoagie set off to the mansion to aid the Tentacles.  Unbeknownst to Bernard, the letter was actually written by Green Tentacle, and Bernard mistakenly sets both of them free.

Dr. Edison’s attempt to send all Bernard, Lavern, and Hoagie back in time to turn off the sludge-o-matic machine that sent the toxic waste into the river goes awry and somehow Lavern ends up 200 years in the future, Hoagie finds himself 200 years in the past, and Bernie returns to the present. Without giving the story away, let’s just say that all three protagonists must traverse their respective times in an effort to stop Purple Tentacle from enslaving humanity. The story is totally absurd and that’s why I love it.

Gameplay is of your standard point-and-click variety except with much more flare and pizzazz. LucasArts has included tons of actual character (playable and non-playable) animation and has loaded us up with plenty of real voices instead of simply forcing us to read through the entire game. The animation and voice work is far above many other point-and-click games of the era. This provides a more fluid experience for gamers which helps Day of the Tentacle age with a little more grace than its contemporaries. But that’s not to say Day of the Tentacle is entirely revolutionary as you do still struggle with classic point-and-click issues such as wasting an entire hour just hovering your mouse around the screen looking for one thing… That you can’t even access yet. But thus is the name of the game when you play a point-and-click adventure.

I recently read a review on Day of the Tentacle where the reviewer claimed the game to be short. If you have beaten the game and know where everything is, sure, maybe it’s a short game. Probably can be done in about an hour. But if you’ve never played it then it will undoubtedly take you at least a few hours just to figure everything out. This is NOT an easy game. The difficulty of figuring out the puzzles is truly a test in one’s patience and sanity. You will need to gather up dozens of items across all three mansions (maniac mansion past, present, and future), and then you will need to send many of those items to different points in time for the other characters to use. But even then, knowing when and how to use something seems to be much of a guessing game. I would like to say, “you’ll eventually figure it out,” but I’m not convinced that you will. If this were 1993 still, you would be asking your parents for permission to call the 1-900 phone number in the game’s manual.

I did beat the game however. And I did use a couple walkthrough sites to get there. I’m not proud of myself, but at the same time I wanted to see the ending of the game! Being as there is no save feature, it just made sense to me. I don’t often have a lot of free time, so on three separate occasions I set aside about 1 hour to just play around and see what I could do. After the 3rd time, I was sort of ready to just wrap it up. So that brings me to another point… while Day of the Tentacle is damn fun – lots of fun – it has virtually no replay value. In order to accomplish “X” you must do “A, B, and C” first. There’s no way around it. So every time you play the game, you’ll have to repeat the same steps and talk to the same people and paint the same kumquat tree and flush the spaghetti and… and… well, once you play the game you’ll get it.

I’m not trying to take away what LucasArts accomplished here as Day of the Tentacle is a fine example of how one company took the slowly dying and [seemingly] antiquated point-and-click adventure concept and turned it on its head! With creative storytelling, vibrant animations, and strong and humorous voice acting, LucasArts showed that the genre was not yet ready to die, even with the speed and excitement of 16-bit console gaming rapidly solidifying the home console market. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy this classic adventure (in 2018 and beyond) is to set aside about 3 hours on a lazy rainy Sunday and just explore. Rock on.

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry 

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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