One of my earliest memories in the world of video games was MS DOS. Some of you may remember the effort it took to install a game on your computer back in those days some of you may not, the several floppy disks that came with your game, the arduous installation process, even after the game was installed you would still have to memorise the codes you’d have to input into the computer so you could find the file the game was in just so you could start bloody playing it! But when all that was done I was in a child like world of wonderment. One such game was Day of the Tentacle by Lucas Arts, the successor to 1987’s Maniac Mansion. I remember it was the first game I came across with a sense of humour. And when I began to play for the first time since my infancy everything just came rushing back to me in the best way possible, the bold colours, the cartoonish sound effects, the one liners they all stood out to me so when I saw their was a remastered version for the PS4 available I jumped at the chance to play it.
The story begins with a squid like purple alien being taking a sip of toxic waste it stumbles upon, after which it grows arms and develops a hankering for world domination. This is when we meet our three playable characters, science nerd Bernard, slow witted sloth Hogie and Airhead Laverne all of whom come together perfectly, are called upon by their friend Dr Fred to travel back in time ONE WHOLE DAY in order to stop the alien partaking in the toxic beverage, this however does not go to plan (otherwise we’re in for a short adventure) with Hogie finding himself 200 years in the past during the George Washington era, Laverne 200 years in the future where squidkind is ruling the planet and Bernard remaining in the present day (the game was originally released in 1993 but you get the point) albeit in the same kooky mansion so the layout remains practically the same.
Lucas Arts in the 90’s was well known for it’s point and click adventures i.e. Monkey Island, Sam and Max hit the road and Full Throttle, and Day of the Tentacle is no different. A certified item collect fest this game keeps your brain working making you check every nook and cranny for items to help you progress through this story. You also have a variety of people to interact with which include America’s founding fathers to help you along the way giving you ideas of what to do with what’s in your inventory or certain items you need to look out for, at times you are even required to manipulate other characters for your own selfish needs this in essence gives your brain a good workout and really helps you think outside the box, for example at one point you have to paint a kumquat tree red in order to make George Washington believe it’s a cherry tree so he’ll chop it down for you! However the logic as to what some of these items are and what they are used for can leave new players flustered and bamboozled. The time travel aspect comes into play often which for the time was an awesome idea, one point in the game requires you to put a bottle of red wine from the 1700’s in a time capsule for your comrade in the 2100’s to find so by the time it is retrieved the wine has become pure vinegar (which is an essential item for the story you’ll understand trust me) and other items you find on your quest can be delivered back and forth through time via your time travelling toilet(…) The constant to-ing and fro-ing between time periods and environments can be tedious and the character models move agonisingly slow to the point where at times you find yourself getting a little disinterested but in this kind of genre it is simply the nature of the beast which won’t particularly bother people that are accustomed to point and click adventures but may put off newcomers.
Upon first playing the remaster the first thing that stood out was the polish and the beautifully rendered graphics, you can revert back to the original 1993 graphics with a simple press of the ps4’s touch pad which makes the change in appearance all the more present. The gameplay prompts also only appear when needed now instead of constantly being on the bottom of the screen which provides less of a distraction and also lets you play in a full screen experience.
The three main characters can come across a little one dimensional, the science nerd, the slow witted sloth and the ditzy airhead remain just that and the voice acting can feel at times robotic and stale but playful light heartedness and the odes to George Lucas’ past (the portraits of duo Sam and Max as well as Darth Vader can be found throughout) makes up for this.
All in all, Day of the Tentacle Remastered is a breath of nostalgic fresh air. The refreshed, reinvigorated graphics makes this 20 plus year old classic more accessible to the younger generation, you can clearly see the work that has gone into improving this game visually and that mustn’t go underappreciated and in terms of gameplay its a textbook Lucas Arts point and click adventure and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, the formula works! The humour doesn’t age all that well providing only a courteous snigger at times rather the laughter it would have provided 20 years ago but other than that its great escapism and well-rounded entertainment.