It seems everything has a Golden Age. For comic books it’s from the late ’30s to the early ’50s. For the The Simpsons we can be even more accurate – the accepted era starts with season three episode Homer At The Bat and ends abruptly during season nine’s The Principal And The Pauper. Armin Tamzarian indeed.
For point and click games the ’90s is king. And really LucasArts is king, with an uninterrupted eight-year run of classics that stand as the highlights of the genre. The best of these was Day Of The Tentacle – a Tex Avery styled adventure spanning three separate timelines that balanced humour, story and bizarre but consistently logical puzzles. We’re looking at you Le Chuck’s Revenge – there are no ‘monkey can be used as wrench’ puzzles here. But there are cold, wet hamsters in need of jumpers and kumquat trees that would be more useful if only they were bearing cherries instead.
The plot sees an evil purple tentacle drink toxic sludge, grow arms then head off to conquer the world. Three housemates – spaced out medical student Laverne, tubby rocker Hoagie and loveable nerd Bernard – are sent back to stop him. But, following an imitation diamond-related time machine malfunction, they end up in three different time periods – with America’s founding fathers 200 years in the past, in a tentacle-controlled dystopia 200 years in the future, and the present day. Together they have to save the day and get back to their own time. Luckily, they can communicate with one another, and the time machine is working just well enough that they can send inanimate objects to help each other out.
Day Of The Tentacle is the fourth LucasArts adventure to be remastered (following the first two Monkey Islands and Grim Fandango) and it’s remarkably faithful. The Monkey Island redo came in for criticism for changing the art style, but this mostly just takes the blocky pixels of the 1993 original and smooths the edges. The result? Shorn of its jagged edges, it looks like the game you remember in your head. But, as with the other upgraded adventures, there’s the option to play with the original graphics, should you want to. There’s also a commentary, which adds extra details for fans in fits and starts.
But the question all veteran Day Of The Tentacle players will need answering is this: is the original Maniac Mansion (to which this is a sequel) still hidden in the game? The answer’s yes – it’s still where it was. We won’t say exactly where. New players will have to discover it for themselves.