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Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (DOS)

94
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9367)
Written on  :  Feb 12, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Summary

Make my day tentacle....

The Good

Lucasarts proved they couldn't be beaten to the top in the adventure genre when they released this baby. Generally regarded as one of the best adventure games ever made, DOTT managed to overcome it's "being the sequel to" stigma (in this case the legendary Maniac Mansion) and instead managed to become a killer game in it's own right, surpassing the original in many aspects.

Ron Gilbert may not have leaded this particular game, but Tim Schafer proved that if someone could beat ol' man Gilbert at his own game was him, and designed a magnificent adventure game that follows the wacky tradition set by the original. Years have passed and after a typically cooky event (toxic waste turns purple tentacle evil!!!.......snif.... Ed Wood would be proud) all hell breaks loose and the green tentacle asks for the help of the only member of the original Maniac Mansion gang still around: super-geek extraordinaire Bernard, whom with the aid of new friends Hoagie (total asskicker) and Laverne (kind of a letdown) journeys to the Edison's mansion to see what's cooking. Once in the mansion you'll get zapped in a time-travelling plot which leaves each character stranded in a different time period and from that point on it's typical adventure gaming goodness as you switch from each of the 3 characters in standard MM-fashion trying to solve deduction and inventory-based puzzles and teaming-up (and I do mean teaming-up!) for a grand finale against Purple tentacle.

So far we have a typical adventure game, sure there's the wacky B-movie plotline that spoofs ol' sci-fi flicks but aside from it there's nothing super-duper about it. What sets DOTT appart from other games is that the technology finally catched up with the narrative in terms of wackyness. Taking it's cues from classic animated works, the artists of DOTT crafted a bizarre visual world in par with the one the script called for. Thus, all the characters are wildly distorted to cartoony proportions, and the backgrounds and items are drawn in wild perspectives, with lots of jagged lines and distorting stuff which gives it a distinct graphic look similar to the Ren & Stimpy cartoons in their graphical surreality. Heck, even the font used in the SCUMM interface is all twitchy and wacky!!

However the real genius of DOTT is that the cartoony look is not just a graphical gimmick, it's a core aspect of it's design thus it's present in it's storyline, graphics and gameplay, making for a tightly designed package that never lets you down. Because the graphics and story may be as wacky as you can imagine, but if the puzzles are all "use hammer on nail" then we have a problem. Fortunately the puzzles in MM follow equally weird rules and include washing a car to summon rain (loved that one!) for example, thus providing a gameplay experience on par with the story and graphics.

Plus it includes the complete original masterpiece Maniac Mansion in it!!!

The Bad

Pretty much the only thing I missed was the fact that Bernard was the only returning character from the old MM gang, and while Hoagie is an excellent addition, Laverne was far lower on the "cool-o-meter" for me. And I also would have loved to have some good old cheesy horror spoofs as in the original. DOTT is more of a "just" sci-fi game.

So yeah, I'm bitching. But I would have Killed to be able to play as Bernard, Syd an Razor!! And Hoagie of course!!

The Bottom Line

Incredible game that has to be played to be believed. Another masterpiece by Lucasarts, another milestone in the world of adventure games. Both honors it's tradition and surpasses it. Memo to the powers-that-be: make Day of the tentacle a worldwide holiday!