Joy, Laughter, and Purple Tentacles
If you don’t play Day of the Tentacle, then really, what are any of us doing?
By Jared Petty
Every now and again in this delightful job, I spend some time scrolling through the list of upcoming games. Business development in video games is a laborious process. Looking through Limited Run’s internal calendar jolts me with a little time travel energy a la Back to the Future II: I get to see the future and get excited, but woe be it that I say or do anything that might interfere with the natural course of history. Thus, I am condemned to savor but sit on secret knowledge until the time of revelation arrives.
When I saw this gem headed to the LRG lineup, the cockles of my little heart melted like a stick of butter in a sunbeam. Day of the Tentacle is an undisputed classic, a graphical adventure game seeped in absurdist storytelling and sardonic humor.
Long ago, in another life, I reviewed Day of the Tentacle Remastered for IGN, and six years later, I stand by that assessment. If anything, I’d bump those measly two-tenths of a point up to a nine.
Grossman and Schafer are at the height of their powers in Day of the Tentacle, a game about monsters, time travel, the Founding Fathers, a mummy, a sinister animate appendage with an evil eyebrow, and a tuna-head protagonist. It’s hilarious, bent, and twisted in an almost grotesque way.
Day of the Tentacle’s art is stunningly, aggressively overstated, featuring elongated and exaggerated cartoon linework fired into the eyes with a cannon of rich and garish tones. The look evokes the pixelated but stylish weirdness of the original, and you can switch between the two looks on the fly. True to the spirit of Lucas classics, the Remaster devs used the opportunity to slip a new joke or two in with this new feature… see if you can spot Jar-Jar Binks.
Also worth noting: Day of the Tentacle Remastered includes the entirety of its prequel, Maniac Mansion, tucked away on an in-game computer. While its interface is more primitive than Day of the Tentacle’s and its graphics more blocky, Maniac Mansion is a masterpiece in its own right: obscenely funny and featuring a customizable cast of characters with unique skills, allowing for multiple endings and extensive replayability, a rarity in adventure games. Truth be told, I think it might slightly edge out Day of the Tentacle in my heart, though a lot of that is likely nostalgia: I played Maniac Mansion on my Tandy 1000 HX first and at a formative age. Anyway, it’s there too, and it’s excellent.
Back to Day of the Tentacle: you’re Bernard (to start), and dire things are afoot. The past and the future need saving, and only you can set things right by wielding the power of puzzles. Zany, stupid puzzles. Puzzles with laugh-out-loud punchlines. Brain teasers and rib ticklers. It’s great.
Look, just play this. This world is full of pain and suffering, but Day of the Tentacle is full of laughter and joy. It’s one of the best adventures ever made, and it's venerated because it’s a freakin’ masterpiece. You owe it to yourself to enjoy yourself.
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Limited Run Games:
is a subsidiary of “Freemode”, an operative group comprised of gaming and entertainment companies owned by Embracer. Limited Run Games is the industry leader in the production and distribution of premium physical video games. Limited Run seeks to celebrate the legacy of gaming through its award-winning collector’s editions. Founded in 2015, they have published over 1,000 physical games, exclusive merch, and collectables. Limited Run is the gold standard in bringing digital games to physical form and now re-releasing retro titles on modern platforms via their proprietary Carbon Engine. Visit limitedrungames.com for the latest offerings and to learn more about Carbon Engine development. Follow the brand on your social media platform of choice for all LRG-related updates:@limitedrungames.