Day of the Tentacle

Developer/Publisher:  LucasArts
Year Released:  1993

Review by Rosemary Young (October, 1997)
dot.jpgFirst up in this reflections review a quick message for everyone who e-mailed and humbly suggested that we don't forget Day of the Tentacle. I have just one word to say: 'Done'. Although I suppose I could stretch this one word and add 'Thank you' because I have just had a delightful couple of days replaying this game. It surely is one of my all time favourite humorous graphical adventures.

Paradise lost
Imagine a tranquil pastoral scene with crazy, crooked mansion inhabited by a crazy, crooked scientist. In the course of his experiments said scientist releases toxic mutagen into a stream and all begins to look very sad. Along comes Purple Tentacle and Green Tentacle (rather like the witches hats used for road works, plus a few suction cups) and, against better advice, Purple Tentacle takes a gulp. Immediately he turns smarter and meaner and plans to 'take on the world'.

Cut to Bernard, Laverne and Hoagie, three not-so ordinary (or are they?) kids who receive a telegram from Bernard's old friend, Green Tentacle. Dr Fred (the mad scientist) now has the Tentacles in his clutches and intends to destroy them both. So, off to the rescue, and promptly Bernard releases his good Green friend. But, alas, Purple Tentacle is also freed to go about his wicked ways. All is lost ... or is it? Now the only thing left is for the three adventurers to travel back to 'yesterday' and turn off the offending tap that caused the whole horrible mess.

Travellers in time
Well, you didn't expect turning off a tap to be easy, did you? It isn't. Complications arise immediately when the 'time machine' malfunctions and, though Bernard stays put, Laverne and Hoagie are zapped to different time periods, Hoagie 200 years in the past, and Laverne 200 years in the future.

Thus begins Day of the Tentacle, one of the first graphic adventure games to present us with puzzles that involve working in different time zones, and one that has rarely been surpassed in terms of complexity and pure, simple fun. It is your task to direct each character in their respective time periods through a series of comical actions that necessarily have repercussions in another time; to rescue them all, and, ultimately, to save the human race from enslavement by Dr Fred's dreaded mutant Purple Tentacle.

This adventure is so entertaining I could have happily replayed it immediately when I zapped back into the game to take a couple of screen shots. It has lots of very amusing game characters, some of whom will be instantly recognisable, and some crazy mixed up puzzles that require the manipulation of objects in the past (or present) in order to achieve some purpose at a later time. And, yes, you do need a good supply of imagination to get that bottle of vinegar, to conjure up a storm, or to rearrange a statue to suit your purposes. In this game you are able to coerce non-playing characters into doing things for you, but the direct approach isn't much help. You'll need to find ingenious ways to get them to play along.

Privy post
Of course, you'll want to zap a lot of bits and pieces back and forth through time, and this is made easy courtesy of Dr Fred's Chron-O-John, or magic 'convenience'. A simple 'flush' will pass objects from one character to another, or you can simply pick up the object from the inventory at the bottom of the screen and click it on the portrait of the intended recipient.

Also at the bottom of the screen there is a verb list displayed from which you must select verbs followed by on screen objects or inventory items to carry out various actions. This means that you can interact intricately with the game world, push things around, open and close objects, etc, rather than just clicking on things to see what happens. Indeed, if you want to succeed in this game it's advisable to fiddle around with everything.

Day of the Tentacle was first released on floppy disk but has since had a re-release on CD ROM. This latter release has voices throughout although there are also subtitles to fall back on if need be. It's one of those games that will capture you utterly, and take you along on a wonderfully entertaining ride and, in my opinion, it shouldn't be missed by any self-respecting adventurer with a good sense of humour. If you've already played it, then play it again, if you haven't, then there's a real treat waiting in store.

See the Day of the Tentacle walkthrough. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
286 minimum or 386 or higher, MS-Dos 3.1 or higher, 2mg expanded memory. Windows compatible, keyboard, mouse or joystick (mouse recommended), 2x CD-rom, 256 colour VGA, Soundblaster & compatibles