Day of the Tentacle
Release Date: June 25, 1993
Platform Played On: PC
2018 Placement: #12 (-1)
What It Is:
The sequel to Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle is another point-and-click adventure that follows the adventures of Bernard (from the first game), Laverne, and Hoagie (two new characters) as they attempt to save the world from a super intelligent Purple Tentacle. Unlike Maniac Mansion, which had multiple characters that could change how any given playthrough was solved, Day of the Tentacle is a more straightforward adventure – well, as straightforward as three people trapped in three different time periods using a Port-a-John to flush each other puzzle solutions can be.
It’s filled with irreverent humor, stupid puns, and bad jokes, but the overall game is the best point-and-click adventure of the LucasArts golden age. From finding a way to get George Washington to chop down a lemon tree, to dressing a mummy so it’ll win a beauty contest, to figuring out how to get fake barf off the ceiling (and more importantly what you’d even need that for later), the puzzles in this game make you think really hard about what you have at your disposal while never really getting to the “oh, well I GUESS that makes sense as an interaction” territory that some of the more complicated point-and-click adventures have.
Why It’s Important To Me:
Point-and-click adventures were my favorite genre of game growing up. Sam and Max Hit the Road, Full Throttle, The Dig, and Day of the Tentacle were pretty much the main games I played on my PC. The later revitalization of the genre missed the mark, either making the puzzles too complex or not complex enough. But Day of the Tentacle hit a particular sweet spot. All the main characters are engaging: I can still exactly hear Bernard, Laverne, and Hoagie’s voices in my head as they tell me what I can and can’t do with items. And all the supporting characters are fantastic too: from Green and Purple Tentacle to Weird Ed Edison to Benjamin Franklin, each character is funny and a blast to interact with.
This is by far my favorite of the entire genre. It has callbacks to Maniac Mansion (the poor hamster) as well as standing enough on its own that it’s worthwhile to play – I’d never played the original game before I played this for the first time, and yet it was instantly a favorite. I played this through enough times that when the Remastered version came out I was able to Platinum it fairly easily without a guide. It’s one of those games that will always be ingrained in my memory as a classic of the medium, even if the genre itself has warped and changed in the nearly 30 years since it released.
My Strongest Memory:
At some point in the game as Bernard, you find Nurse Edna sitting in a rolling chair in the security room. You can push the chair, but she grabs onto a statue and keeps herself from being flung completely out of the room. Now the solution to this puzzle isn’t super hard, but as a kid, for some reason the solution evaded me for a long while as I played the game. I can still remember the glee I got when Edna finally went spinning out of the room and crashing down the stairs after I solved it.
As Bernard says: “You know what they say: if you want to save the world, you have to push a few old ladies down the stairs.”
There’s also the rivalry between Bernard and Oozo the Clown, the absolute rockin’ banger that Green Tentacle plays in his room (and you can hear throughout the entire house as Bernard), and just…Laverne in her entirety. This game was endlessly quotable by my friends and I definitely give it credit for shaping a chunk of my sense of humor at an early age.
Why It’s #13:
It’s a classic. It will always be a classic. I sadly don’t dip into the genre itself as much anymore due to losing my patience for complicated puzzles – as a kid when you only have a limited supply of games it’s either solve the puzzle or do homework. Day of the Tentacle comes as naturally to me now to the point that it’s like redoing a crossword that’s already filled in. But I love it all the same and it will always rank high in my heart.