Day Of The Tentacle

Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle is the second game in the Maniac Mansion series. It was the eighth game to use the SCUMM scripting language. I remember when I was a little girl, and my parents stopped into Radio Shack. They had the Day of the Tentacle demo playing on the computer. I just sat there, amazed at the beautiful animation playing before me. I never imagined that computers could possibly pull off such a feat. The characters moved so smooth. DOTT looked like a cartoon rather than a computer program. And the music was so wonderful, and was so zany that it fit the animation so perfectly. The sound effects were also wonderfully cartoony, and really added to the atmosphere.

I just had to have it, but since the computer was still a family computer, we ended up getting MS-DOS 6.0 instead. It wasn’t until years later that I finally was able to play Day of the Tentacle, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I was a huge fan of Maniac Mansion, spending a lot of time on it on the Nintendo Entertainment System when it first came out. Day of the Tentacle surprised me by taking everything I knew and throwing it on it’s head. The Edisons were still recognizably themselves, but many years had passed since the first adventure, and the characters had changed believably with time.

Weird Ed was so scarred by the whole ordeal that he spent years in therapy. He’s no longer a commando-enthusiast, but now he collects stamps in order to remain at peace. The mansion has been turned into a hotel in order to make money to take care of the family as well as fund Dr. Fred’s experiments. As a result, Nurse Edna no longer throws non-family members into the dungeon, but she still keeps a keen eye on the mansion through security cameras.

Day of the Tentacle introduced me to a concept that I know vastly prefer over straight sequels. It’s the same game world, but other than sharing the characters of the Edisons and the nerd from the first game, Bernard, it’s a wildly different game.

You still control three characters: Bernard, a roadie named Hoagie, and a medical student named Laverne. But, as the game unfolds, the reasoning for controlling three characters becomes much more important. Where in the first game, the characters were used to get other people out of the dungeon, and use their unique abilities to solve different puzzles and see different endings, here the ability to use three different characters was of complete importance. Each of the three characters end up in different time periods. Bernard is in the present, Hoagie is in the past, and Laverne is in the future. You can share inanimate objects between time frames as long as they fit in the time machine. This brought a big feeling of exploration that is seldom felt in adventure games. The mansion was there to explore in three different time periods, and doing things in any of those time periods could cause things to change for future periods. It was a wonderful scenario that I’d love to see explored again in another adventure game.

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