Day of the Tentacle Remastered Review

March 21, 2016

For me, and I imagine a huge chunk of this release’s target audience, Day of the Tentacle is hugely nostalgic. It was one of the first CD-ROM titles I played, in a ‘LucasArts Archive’ collection that contained a bunch of other great adventure games of the time, and it was also one of the funniest and most impressive games I’d seen as well. You didn’t really get many games that had full-screen cartoon-quality animations in those days in those days, or with really funny voice acting to match. Day of the Tentacle Remastered arrives on PC and PS4 over twenty years after the original release, which is still regarded as a classic. The technology to make adventure games and the industry in general has moved on, but does this Lucasarts original still have a place today?

Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman designed DOTT back in the early 90’s, as a sequel to Maniac Mansion. Knowledge of the former game isn’t really required (or the Canadian TV show for that matter), as you control three college students – Bernard, Hoagie and Laverne. They find themselves stuck in time after trying to stop the mutant Purple Tentacle from launching a world domination campaign, with Hoagie 200 years in the past in Colonial times, Laverne 200 years in the post-Tentacle future, and Bernard stuck with fixing the time machine so they can get back.

I have to admit that I can remember Day of the Tentacle back-to-front, from my days playing it during 3rd grade. While I can breeze through the puzzles today, at the time I do remember them being a lot more difficult – especially certain cases which depend on repetition (freeing Laverne from the kennel) and knowledge of certain idioms (the infamous cab-washing). It might only take me a couple of hours to get through as an adult, but as a kid I was literally stuck on this game for weeks, and I would imagine it may hold the same longevity for today’s kids, as long as they’re forbidden from browsing GameFAQS. There’s a ton of stuff to do in Day of the Tentacle, despite the limited locations, and figuring out the chain of events to lead to a solution is a huge amount of fun.


The reason I mention this game specifically appealing to kids (other than having played it when I was one), is that it operates on cartoon-logic all the way through. The art style, which recalls Chuck Jones and old Looney Tunes cartoons, and the over-the-top animation are the big clues that solutions are directly inspired by those classics. When all else fails, you just have to think back to what Bugs Bunny would do, or Pepe Le Pew, and the answer often presents itself.

The best puzzles remain the ones which play around with the time-travel concept. With one character in the past, one in the present and one in the future, you can set up actions that can ripple across to the other time periods. It would be unfair of me to give specific examples, as these also reveal the solutions to a few puzzles, but your time-space-continuum antics have repercussions that are both subtle and widespread, and which are sometimes the only way to obtain key items.

The changes made in this Remastered version over the original are both subtle and helpful. You can flick between the original and remastered style with the touch of the button, much the same way as the Monkey Island remasters. The remastered style has redrawn visuals, based heavily on the original graphics but with smoother lines at a HD resolution, and filled out to a 16:9 ratio. The music has also been remastered, although still in a MIDI style that works with the iMUSE system. The original voices are in place, still sounding crisp after twenty years (thanks CD-ROM!). There are also changes to how inventory and actions are managed – you can now hover over characters and objects to select an appropriate verb (‘Use’, ‘Open’, ‘Talk’) rather than use the old menu which took up most of the screen, and your inventory is also hidden unless you choose to bring it up at the bottom.


In terms of bonus content, Day of the Tentacle Remastered has a similar offering to the recent Grim Fandango re-release. There’s a range of concept art that is steadily unlocked as you progress through the game (along with achievements), and a developer commentary can be toggled on and off, appearing over certain cutscenes and rooms. Lending their thoughts are Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman and Peter Chan among others, remembering the creative decisions made and technical limitations of the time. And of course, the original Maniac Mansion is included as an easter egg as it was in the old release, although it doesn’t have any remastered content.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered is a great presentation of a solid LucasArts adventure title. I would argue it skews a little younger than some of their other games, say The Dig or Sam & Max, as it feels like a crazy Saturday-morning cartoon, and operates on that logic as well. The new work done on the visuals should mean it can find new life on today’s platforms with the younger generation, and the humour still holds up just like those old Warner Bros. cartoons. If you’re like me and have nostalgia for the original, then you’ll get the most out of the game with the developer commentary, which opens up about the process of making LucasArts games back in the day. Otherwise, it might be time to introduce this to your own kids, and let them get hung up on cherry trees, tentacle fashion shows and well-dressed mummies all over again.


-Redrawn but faithful art
-Great cartoon comedy
-Intelligent time travel puzzles


-Not much new content, aside from concept art and commentary -A few puzzles may still irritate today

Overall Score: