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Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168605)
Written on  :  Aug 23, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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I feel like I could... I feel like I could... take on the world!

The Good

Ready for a real classic? Here comes "Day of the Tentacle", another one of Lucas Arts' giants, the granddaddy of all those wacky cartoony comedies with perverse puzzles. This was the one that started it all. The incomparable achievement of "Day of the Tentacle" is the fact it was able to become a true comedy adventure for the first time in history. Monkey Island was still half-serious. Or maybe only quarter-serious. The important thing, it didn't look like a comedy. There was nothing funny in the way its heroes looked and moved. The VGA remake of Leisure Suit Larry 1 was the closest thing to a real comedy adventure, but it was not as epic as "Day of the Tentacle", and didn't have such a large scope of humor. "Day of the Tentacle" breathes comedy, it oozes comedy, it plays like comedy - and it looks like comedy. In this game, plot, gameplay, dialogues, and graphics come to a perfect reunion to produce the first and the most influential cartoon adventure.

The main idea of the game is great in its simplicity: you have three heroes, who operate in the past, in the present, and in the future. You have to figure out how to connect between those times, in order to defeat the ultimate enemy. Time-traveling is always a cool idea, and here it shines in its classic presentation. You'll talk to George Washington, change the future, help to make a great invention, and so on. The game squeezes out every ounce of fun out of the idea, and the puzzle system is mainly based on tricky item-combinations you have to find in order to make the future different and to rid the world of the mighty dictator, the Purple Tentacle.

The puzzle design in "Day of the Tentacle" fits perfectly the style of the game. In a cosy atmosphere, within only one location (the mansion), but in three different time periods, you find and gather all kind of weird items you'll have to use with stuff or send to another time. The puzzles are all woven together, every little solved problem brings you closer to the goal, and the intricate, complicated puzzle tree is very impressive, to say the least. In the end, you can't help admiring the architecture of the puzzles, realizing how seemingly pointless actions were in fact part of the big scheme.

The cast of characters is fantastic, especially with all those historical figures in the past. I'm not American, and perhaps I didn't understand many of the game's allusions that could be entirely clear only to Americans, but I enjoyed a lot talking to Benjamin Franklin or helping to find a pattern for the USA flag. The tentacle-infested future was also cool, but the best character of the game is Hoagie. You gotta see this dude to understand what I'm talkin' about!

Graphics are not important, people say, but they are surely important when they are so utterly wacky and cartoony - when the game was released, they were groundbreaking and technologically outstanding. The graphics serve as an additional comedy factor in the game - it is funny to look at the deformed heroes, to watch them move (remember how Hoagie climbed into grandfather's clock?). The whole environment also looks crooked and twisted. Purely visual humor finally finds its way into adventure games and makes it possible for them to compete with cartoons.

The Bad

It is a tiny bit too childish, especially in Laverne parts. And its humor is not as insane as in, for example, Sam & Max. Sometimes the game seems rather too cosy, with its only location and its innocent jokes. But that is really a matter of taste.

The Bottom Line

A spectacular, witty comedy, "Day of the Tentacle" is the father of cartoon adventure. It is a game that merged verbal and visual humor together, a game that was funny not only because of its plot, characters, writing, and gameplay, but also because of the way it looked. An immortal classic.