Summer Tentacular

After the Bigfeet of Sam and Max were irreparably saved, what was there left to do, really, but put on Day of the Tentacle? This is probably the paragon of point-and-click adventures, being the ultimate blend of everything endearing to the genre. Color, story, music, humor, and challenge are all accounted for, and it barely shows it age even after nearly 20 years. Now, I often talk like an asshole, referencing games whose downright ancient age I happen to know and yet expect you to know what I’m talking about, but I’m not going to make that assumption this time, because if you have played Day of the Tentacle you probably already agree with me and there’s nothing more I can tell you. So this will be more about getting you so excited about the game that you go find the ROM at some site (get the CD-ROM version with the voices), play it for yourself, and realize that all this time I have known what I’ve been talking about, and it’s time to get on the magical DOS waggon with me. And I’m not saying you should throw your Xbox in the garbage, but I am asking politely.

Perhaps some of you remember a game called Maniac Mansion. Maybe you remember the TV show on the Family Channel starring Joe Flaherty. It was about a crazy (duh) family living in a mansion (duh) powered by a radioactive meteor from outer space (ultra duh — what, you think the meteor came from earth?). This is where the similarities of the game and TV show cease — back to the game: The head of the family, Fred Edison was a doctor who under the influence of the evil meteor began conducting stranger and stranger experiments on his family. Then he involved tentacles. Then he kidnaps your girlfriend, and that’s going too far. The whole premise was very light-hearted and silly, but you could still die in several gruesome ways like drinking radioactive water or microwaving Weird Ed’s pet hamster and then handing him the corpse. The game was point-and-click, to be sure, but used a table of “input verbs” found at the bottom of the screen which invites players to “verbally” combine objects from the inventory and other features of the mansion as you explore it and attempt to rescue your girl from Dr. Fred’s most vile experiment yet — which also probably involves tentacles.

Are we up to speed? All right — so, Day of the Tentacle is the sequel to Maniac Mansion, and plays the same exact way except that everything is just beautifuller. Items are easier to see, the verb table has been pared down to essentials, the dialogue is smart and memorable, and the music is just fucking great. There’s also no way to fail or die this time. So if anything, use this as your tutorial for old school PC games — you can never screw yourself by losing an item or running out of time. You may think that this makes it an easy game, but the puzzles are tough when you’re not cheating. However, there really is only one solution for each puzzle, and only one ending for the game. I’ll tell you a little secret, though: I hate multiple endings in video games. It means unless you have buckets and lifetimes of time, you’ll probably never see everything in those games which drives me nuts. Some people call that OCD. I call it having an overdeveloped sense of appreciation that’s constantly frustrated by time and mortality.

Oh fuckbooks, I’ve slumped into another mortality diatribe.

But then again, there is no mortality in Day of the Tentacle, so have at it: save the world, travel through time, rewrite the constitution, and microwave a hamster. You know you want to. Do it for Old Conical Glory.

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