Day of the Tentacle – PC
Release Date: June 25, 1993
Genre: Puzzle, Point & Click
Nerd Rating: 8.5/10
Reviewed by: InfiniteKnife
There were many Point and Click games released in the 80s and 90s, the most notable of which came from LucasArts and Sierra. Those made by the former are particularly nostalgic for me. They rely on puzzle solving rather than straight up action and if you ask me, not enough games make you use your noggin these days, so it’s nice to revisit these treasures from back in the day.
In 1995, LucasArts released the first of a series of CD-Rom based PC games called LucasArts Archives. This was a collection of several games, demos, and other goodies from the….well, archives of games previously released. This collection included 3 of my all time favorite Point and Click PC games. Today, we’re going to be talking about the classic Day of the Tentacle.
Day of the Tentacle is a direct sequel to Maniac Mansion, which was originally released on Commodore 64 and Apple II PC. Fans of the original will recognize the main protagonist, Bernard, complete with his hiked up pants and pocket protector. He and his housemates Laverne, a med student and Hoagie, a rock band roadie, end up at the Edison mansion after receiving a distress letter from Green Tentacle that mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison plans to kill him and his brother, Purple Tentacle. Why, you ask? Well, Purple drank from a drainage pipe spewing raw sewage, causing him to mutate. He grows 2 nubby arms and is suddenly super intelligent and bent on taking over the world.
I thought Bernard was an interesting choice as the main character for this game because he was terrified of the tentacles in Maniac Mansion. If you were using him and entered Green Tentacle’s room, he would immediately run out, shrieking like a wuss. He’s got no such fears here, as he and Green became friends and apparently have stayed in touch in the 5 years between settings of the 2 games.
Bernard frees the tentacles and Purple sets out on his plan to overthrow the world. We then meet a much less homicidal Dr. Fred who tells Bernard and his friends that the only way to stop Purple’s plans is to go back in time using his custom-made time machines called Chron-o-Johns (They’re exactly what you think they are).
Because Dr. Fred uses a cheap imitation diamond for the machines, they malfunction, sending Hoagie 200 years into the past and Laverne 200 years into the future where Purple Tentacle has succeeded in world domination and enslaved the human race. Bernard, still in the present, must work with his friends to get the Chron-o-Johns working, bring them home, and stop Purple once and for all.
Day of the Tentacle is all about puzzle solving, but it’s done in really creative ways that often have hilarious results. Using the Point and Click “Walk To” “Talk To” “Use”, etc actions, you can interact with objects and characters to open up new areas and even affect the future to help you. One example of this has Hoagie painting the fruit on a kumquat tree red and trash talking George Washington into cutting it down, which opens up play for Laverne because she ends up stuck in that very same tree 400 years in the future.
For my sense of humor, the dialogue in Day of the Tentacle is hilarious. It’s rife with jokes that include references to historical events but takes a few creative liberties, such as Betsy Ross being so frustrated by being overworked in designing the US flag, that she just rolls with the idea when you present her with a plan to make it into the shape of a tentacle. There is witty back and forth between characters along with some slapstick moments and all this is varied enough to keep it fresh throughout the whole experience.
It’s interesting to note that Day of the Tentacle was the first of the LucasArts Point and Click adventures to be impossible to fail, meaning there is no action that can be taken that will get you stuck or killed. Fans of Sierra’s King’s Quest series know all too well how easy it is to render the game impossible to complete by missing even the smallest detail (we’re looking at YOU, rat in King’s Quest 5!)
The music in Day of the Tentacle worked for its intended purpose, but where this Point and Click adventure’s audio really shines is the voice acting. The voices were clear and varied among all the different characters and there was a TON of dialogue. It was pretty clear that a lot of time and effort were put into the voice acting here and it really brought the whole experience together for me. This was one of the first PC games to be released on floppy disk and CD-rom at the same time, and disk users missed out due to lack of storage space to include all the sound files.
In another move not previously seen in this type of game, there was a full playable version of the original Maniac Mansion. I actually had never even heard of the original until I stumbled upon it in Day of the Tentacle and to this day, have not beaten it. I usually just overload the reactor and kill everyone.
If you’re not a fan of really cleverly written narratives that use puzzle solving rather than running and gunning to complete, this may not be the game for you, but if you can appreciate taking your time and enjoying all the work that the developers put in to making a really enjoyable and funny experience, this is a must play. There may only be a single solution, which does diminish replay value, but it has enough of that special something to make it worth a replay every now and then.
Share This Post