If there’s one genre of game I find it easy to write about it’s the Lucasarts point-and-clicks. The game that’s featured in this week’s Retro Corner would be one of my all time favourites from that genre and of all time and one that’s not easily forgotten, but easy to go back to. It is of course, Day of the Tentacle.
Day of the Tentacle was released in 1993 on DOS and was the sequel to Maniac Mansion. The game was developed by some of the biggest names in the industry, Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer (of Double Fine). Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick were also the designers of Maniac Mansion (and will soon be bringing us another classic point-and-click game, Thimbleweed Park). Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer were involved in the writing, directing and designing of Day of the Tentacle.
The game follows Bernard Bernoulli, Hoagie and Laverne as they try to halt the Purple Tentacle’s plan to take over the world. Purple tentacle is, of course, a sentient, malevolent, mutant tentacle and former lab assistant who recently acquired arms. Purple tentacle and his friendly brother Green tentacle were created by the mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison, who vows to kill both tentacles to save the world. Green tentacle however, asks to be spared and gets his friend Bernard to help out. Dr. Edison then concocts a plan to save the world from the evil tentacle by using his Chron-o-John time machines (yes, a toilet time machine) to send the trio back in time to prevent Purple tentacle from being exposed to the toxic sludge that sent Purple tentacle mad (and gave him little arms). You encounter a number of historical figures during the game such as the founding fathers and Benjamin Franklin.
Graphically, the game looked fantastic, with cartoonish, colourful scenes and animations. When I say cartoonish, it was like an interactive cartoon, much like the previously covered Toonstruck. The music and sounds were fitting and well done and the voice acting suited the characters. This was also Lucasarts’ first adventure game to feature “talkies,” actual voice acting, so the game really came alive and was a new experience for adventure game fans.
The gameplay is your classic point-and-click style game, but the puzzles had a good measure of complexity. For example, to solve some puzzles you need to send items back and forth through the different time periods by flushing them down the Chron-o-John. There were also some jokes and puzzles that weren’t necessary to complete the game, but they just added to the fun.
Where the game really shone was its humour. The story isn’t as deep, nor is the world as amazing as Grim Fandango, but the humour was brilliant. It was of course made by the same people who made Grim Fandango and Monkey Island so it’s easy to see where the humour came from. Playing it again when older just made the game even funnier and it’s definitely easy to pick up again.
Last year at PlayStation Experience, Tim Schafer announced that Double Fine were re-mastering and releasing a special edition of Day of the Tentacle. I can only hope this will happen soon and that it’s as amazing as the original. I would love more people to get to play a game that made me laugh and brought me so much joy since its release in ’93. Have you any fond memories of Day of the Tentacle? What was your favourite Lucasarts game? Let us know in the comments.