Have You Played… Day Of The Tentacle?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I find it truly hard to imagine anyone hasn’t. But then I also find it truly hard to imagine anyone was born after 1980. So there’s a decent chance that you might not have played Day Of The Tentacle.

It’s a sequel to Maniac Mansion, but you don’t need to have played it. In fact, you can play it on a computer inside Day Of The Tentacle! This stands alone as the best comedy adventure ever made, and possibly the best adventure ever made. Bernard, Hoagie and Laverne, three college chums, are propelled through time in an attempt to stop an evil purple tentacle from taking over the world. Of course. Hoagie goes back 200 years, Laverne forward 200, and Bernard stays where he is. But each can pass objects between each other either by flushing them down the Chron-o-John’s – the time travelling toilet cubicles – or by waiting long enough.

It’s so packed with so many brilliant ideas, puzzles that span the 400 years, and gag after gag that hits. It’s hilarious, it’s beautifully drawn, and crucially, it’s really damned clever.

52 Comments

  1. Risingson says:

    Why, of course. It is an absolutely canonic adventure: Grossman and Shafer where really inspired here.

    What I remember most about the game was the part where you have to rescue Dr Fred. My father just came to my room to see what I was doing, and as I was solving the puzzle we both bursted out laughing many many times.

    It is also, with Another World, the game that I’ve seen its intro the most. So many times, that I noticed the weird midi emulation in newer windows machines, never coming closer to what I listened to in my awe32, until I found out about coolmidisynth.

    • Risingson says:

      AAAND it’s one of the games with most glorious lateral thinking involved. If you don’t like lateral thinking, if you think that the blame of adventure games is this and they should not exist, sorry, but this means war. I peacefully said nothing when the invasion of FPS, and stayed calm with the RTS one. If you cannot solve puzzles, it’s ok, I am bad at RTS. But I never asked RTS games to dissapear.

      Thanks.

      • Keiggo says:

        With whom are you arguing?

      • Scurra says:

        Which does, of course, make it weird that John bounced off Myst so hard. Maybe it’s because the Cyan games were actually more direct than most point-and-click games, so the “a-ha” moments that make puzzles so memorable were too efficient to feel rewarding? Whereas the hamster jumper et al are just sufficiently off-beat to provoke a different emotional response?

        • klops says:

          There’s nothing weird to like DotT and hate Myst. It’s common sense.

          • machstem says:

            I have gathered many a comment on this site that claims its hatred for Myst. Am I alone in my nostalgic pride? I can’t be the only one to have actually LIKED Myst…

          • klops says:

            You’re not the only one. At least the “HYP Myst?” article had people commenting, who liked the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      syllopsium says:

      It doesn’t compare with playing it through a Roland MT32/CM32L/LAPI-I, either *smug*, complete with it displaying ‘Lucasfilm games’ on the LED readout.

      Personally I think Fate of Atlantis is better, but DOTT is certainly superb (and much more funny).

    • kitestar says:

      *casually throws the following article on the table: link to polygon.com I’m surprised no one mentioned this by now

  2. Stugle says:

    I have – but then, I was born before 1980. A great joy to play and I can still picture Laverne’s little side-to-side bounce as she walks across the room.

  3. deiseach says:

    From that era of Lucasarts adventures that I am rather vaguely claiming to have commenced with the first Monkey Island game and ended with Grim Fandango, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis remains my favourite and the one that has aged the best. More faithful to Raiders of the Lost Ark than all but one of the film/TV Indy outings. But Day of the Tentacle was the funniest. Even the use of stock sounds – klaxons for bulging eyes! – is genius.

    • ansionnach says:

      Yes! Fate of Atlantis all the way! It’s still my favourite game of all time. It trumps so many other adventures in a fair fight… but also has added replayability with three differing mid-sections and several ways to solve some of the puzzles. I never got all the IQ points for working out every solution to every puzzle but got so, so close. Probably gives me more reason to replay it again today than any other adventure.

      • Paul B says:

        Fate of Atlantis also remains one of the only early LucasArts games I managed to complete by myself – back when adventure game puzzles would more often stump me. It also came on 11 disks for the Amiga, which was quite an exercise in disk shuffling for me, with my one and only external floppy drive.

        I also think Fate of Atlantis worked so well because of how well LucasArts set up your relationship with your companion, Sophia – if I recall, there was even a separate path during the mid-section for those who wanted to complete it that way.

        • ansionnach says:

          The team path (with Sophia) was lot of fun. The other two were very good as well, though. Particularly the wits one… and particularly the fists one. There was more fighting in the last but the puzzles and locations were all different as well.

          PC version came on five high density floppies. DoTT came on six and Sam & Max seven. Being able to install games to hard drive without needing something like WHDLoad makes playing the PC versions of old games a lot less painless, even today when you’re likely using some sort of emulator anyway.

          • Paul B says:

            I recently bought Indy IV on steam, so will have to try the fists or wits path one day (I took the team path again for my latest play-through). Thanks for the extra information – I didn’t know you got all new puzzles and locations if you took a different path.

          • ansionnach says:

            You’re welcome. The first section (finding Plato’s Lost Dialogue – where the paths branch) and Atlantis are the same no matter what. I saved the game at the fortune telling part so I could load it and play the other two. Watch out for the bit where you’re stuck in the Labyrinth in the Fists path. It has possibly the worst puzzle in the game where you’ve got to do the same thing several times (push a door) to open it.

    • Stugle says:

      Fate of Atlantis was everything that Indiana Jones was ever supposed to be. I remember I hated the sub navigation section, though. Otherwise, flawless.

      Back in the late 90s, I bought a nice LucasArts compilation that included Monkey Island 1 and 2, The Last Crusade, Fate of Atlantis, Day of the Tentacle, and a bunch of older/lesser titles (I think it had Loom on there, and the Indiana Jones Desktop Adventures). Anyway, best $20 I ever spent on adventure games.

      • ansionnach says:

        Sounds like a bargain, especially since DotT doesn’t come cheap on eBay right now. My “best money ever spent” was IR£60 for a box set containing the floppy versions of Indy4, DotT and Sam&Max. The combined manual had incorrect information for the page number for the copy protection codes of one of the games.

        I re-bought all the Lucas adventures on budget to get the CD versions as well, although I think the floppy ones are superior where available. There were several bundles with two games in each.

  4. JFS says:

    These articles keep getting shorter, don’t they? I never knew the protagonists were college chums. Always thought Bernard was their father or uncle or something.

    Then again, I was born after 1980, so what do I even know!

    (DOTT was released in 1993, and it was quite kid-friendly, so I guess people as young as ’87 or so could have conceivably played it, especially when you consider that we didn’t have that huge flood of cheapo games vying for your attention back then and a 1993 game was still interesting in 1995, but yeah, I know, I ruin the joke :)

    • welverin says:

      These were always meant to be short, if they are more than paragraph longer than this, the writer got overly wordy.

    • EighthNote says:

      I was born in 1994 and I loved Day of the Tentacle! Of course, I inherited the disk from my dad… :)

  5. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Slightly-post-1980-er here, looking forward to playing DotT for the first time with this remaster thingy I’ve heard about. I’ll totally be playing it in retro mode for that pixellated goodness.

    The only famous old adventure games I’ve played are Full Throttle and King’s Quest 4, and I loved them, so I’m clearly deprived. I’ve played others, but they were less-famous King’s Questy things like The Black Cauldron and Mixed-up Mother Goose.

  6. Tinotoin says:

    I’m sure I read it somewhere in these ‘ere hallowed comments that someone always thought it was called “Dave the Tentacle” when people said it out loud.

    Whether a joke or not – the thought of that cracks me up every time.

  7. ansionnach says:

    Big fan of Day of the Tentacle. Would find it hard to place it in the Lucasarts pantheon but I am certain that Fate of Atlantis and Monkey Island 2 are significantly superior to everything else. Day of the Tentacle may come next, although I’m a big fan their non-standard games Loom and The Dig. The Dig reminded me of Fate of Atlantis since you had to fix mysterious technology and had one of the most shocking moments I remember in gaming.

    • ansionnach says:

      One thing I hate in Lucasarts games is the voice acting in anything before Full Throttle. Originally had the floppy versions of those but bought the CD ones too. The voices ruin the game and this is especially the case in DoTT. I actually hacked about with the game a little to produce a modified version of the CD game that took out all the speech while leaving in the digitised sound effects. Hoagie and Laverne’s voices are particularly annoying. Advantages of the new me-only version is that it doesn’t have the copy protection of the floppy version and is even smaller than it because I removed the voices from the intro as well.

      • LionsPhil says:

        You have strange opinions.

        (Although I would be happy to never heard Hoagie go “I don’ wanna” again. But that’s more rub-everything-on-everything-else syndrome, mixed with DoTT actually not having as many funny failure combinations as people remember.)

        • ansionnach says:

          The quality of the speech in these games isn’t as polished as everything else and it cheapens the experience. Full Throttle was the first one with the budget to do it right. I’d say the same goes for a lot of games that weren’t originally designed to be talkies and this leads back to repetitive lines like “I don’t wanna!”. DoTT and Sam & Max both had speech in their introduction so I suppose they were transitional games but I’m still not a huge fan of the speech.

          The most annoying failure line I’ve come across is Rincewind’s “That doesn’t work!” from the first Discworld.

    • ansionnach says:

      Great things about DoTT: its zaniness and funny characters, particularly the twistedness of Laverne. Hoagie’s denseness is quite funny while even Bernard has his moments. All that and I really liked so many of the puzzles. Even where the solution is completely mad they’re well-hinted in the game. The washing machine one is one I liked a lot. Going back to Laverne, her wild, crazed expressions after doing something mischievous are priceless. If there’s ever a follow-up, she should feature prominently!

  8. klops says:

    Yes. A wonderful, wonderful game, although I was born after 1980.

    Then I tried it again this year and couldn’t be bothered. Adventure games have not aged well in my mind. They are tedious and slow and phfff.

  9. Revolving Ocelot says:

    Psh. Born in 1988, played through the original, and I plan to rebuy it and replay it when the remaster comes out. My absolute favourite adventure game.

  10. caff says:

    One of my favourite adventures – almost hallucinogenic in it’s crazy mish-mashed timewarp ways.

    It’s being remastered by Double Fine right now, due early 2016 – so probably worth picking up then.

  11. Shazbut says:

    Overrated I think. Although I must confess, I stopped about halfway

    I’m sure it’s still better than most adventures but it embodies elements which are the things about the genre which I personally like the least (crazy puzzles, an emphasis towards the wacky generally). I don’t think one could say that they don’t make ’em like this any more, because I think they still do. I would choose Fate of the Atlantis, Monkey Island, Loom, Full Throttle, Grim and others over this any day.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s good, it’s just not to my taste so much.

    • Risingson says:

      Hello, that is exactly what I was complaining up there. “It’s not my kind of game, so it’s overrated”. How can you say that? Dune2 is not my kind of game, but its importance is so obvious than it hurts. So it’s DOTT, which is my kind of game.

      Why do you people limit the opinions to “me me me”?

  12. Hobbes says:

    This goes back to a time when Timmy (and yes, I call him Timmy), was held by the reins and told to make great games and was not allowed near the purse strings of other peoples’ money.

    The result? Great games. Unarguably some of the finest adventure games that we’ve been graced with (I won’t say *The* finest because things like Planescape: Torment exist, and other such glories, but it’s up there).

    Ever since Timmy fell down the Kickstarter money well, DoubleFine have been living off the good graces of remasters (which have done well), the VERY occasional solid hit (Massive Chalice was a well executed game, even if it had a few slightly weak areas here and there), some that fell squarely in the “Meh” category (Broken Age is a very love it or hate it game, and Hack and Slash is similar), and then there’s SpaceBase DF-9, which will follow Timmy around like the skidmarks on his trousers for some time to come.

    He needs someone who puts the reins on him, possibly a gag as well (ball gag optional, this isn’t pulp fiction quite yet, though when SBDF9 hit, I was strongly mulling the idea), and make him focus on the whole “Make great games” thing. Rather than be the indie darling who incontinently dribbles money everywhere.

  13. Buemba says:

    This stands alone as the best comedy adventure ever made, and possibly the best adventure ever made.

    Nah, that honor goes to Sam & Max Hit the Road. DotT is still awesome, though.
    Anybody knows if the remaster will keep the verb list or if they’ll streamline it à la more recent Lucasarts games?

    • Risingson says:

      Sam&Max has the most far-fetched puzzles of the whole Lucas catalogue. It is their most inconsistent game. I love it for that, but in no aspect it’s better than DOTT. Maybe visually and musically.

      • ansionnach says:

        The “improved” interface of Sam & Max was a major step backwards. Possibly the hardest “puzzle” in the game is finding the money in the mouse hole of their office. Max stands in front of it and the imprecision of the large icons, coupled with the lack of a sentence line, means you may never notice there’s more than one hotspot there! Like the game a lot and laughed the most at it.

        • deiseach says:

          This is really subjective – all these opinions are, this more so – but Sam & Max seemed to make you walk forever. Climbing that poxy ball of twine…ugh.

          • ansionnach says:

            The walking in Sam & Max didn’t bother me terribly… but the ball of twine bit did. I’d actually forgotten about it. Whenever I’d get stuck and went through the process of trying the new item on everything in the game world I’d go places like that last!

            It certainly would have been within the powers of the developer to let you go straight to the restaurant, but they didn’t. Better game design would make any area you unlock that’s a bit of a hike to get to directly accessible. In this case, I don’t think it being a pain in the arse is entirely subjective – it’s objectively a bad design because you have to do the same mindless thing over and over again for no good reason. At the very least they should have started you closer to the building after the first time you visited.

            Subjectivity is important too, right? It’s interesting seeing everyone’s opinions, whatever they are!

  14. polecat says:

    I love how these articles turn into discussions of the whole Lucasarts pantheon – I so loved them back in the day and replaying them is really interesting for what has aged.

    For me there is something really pure genre about DOTT – something about it feeling like a standalone (Maniac Mansion never appealed in-game) and having awesome time travel puzzles (hamster!) But on replay it irritated me; not sure why exactly, but think something about everything feeling v contrived and the comedy bits not landing so well.

    I love the praise being heaped on Fate of Atlantis, but for me it’s Full Throttle and especially Grim Fandango which have lasted because not only are the puzzles great but the settings and characters are so well realised. The whole idea of Grim is fab, and Rubacava (year 2) is such a highlight.

  15. PancakeWizard says:

    This is currently being ‘remastered’. Could’ve waited until then to bring it up!

  16. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I played through it in a single day, using a walkthrough in a magazine. I just couldn’t stop playing, and the solutions to all the puzzles were right there. :(

  17. welverin says:

    Nope, though I have a feeling that is likely to change next year.

  18. grrrz says:

    can I find a modern era OS compatible version anywhere? it’s not on GOG.

    • Risingson says:

      ScummVm and DosBox are your friends.

      And, for pros, VirtualMidiSynth or FluidSynth.

      • polecat says:

        Or if you’re lazy like me, wait for the remastered version to pop up on Steam/GOG in ‘early 2016’. Does anyone know the story of why these have been out of publication for so long? There has always been a lot of affection for these titles. Perhaps Lucas was just too busy with Jar Jar Binks and all his endless Blu Ray edition faffing/fiddling

        • KaMai says:

          Seems like Darth Jar Jar’s evil is escaping the fictional realm and starting to have real-world consequences.