When I saw Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle creep up the 1001 list as its turn grew nearer, I knew I'd have to be prepared for a bit of frustration and a lack of progress. These types of games just aren't my favourite, but once again, a friendlier remastered version is available to play, so I should at least be able to marvel at the artwork if nothing else.
It's a bit of a negative outlook, that, but we'll see where it takes us.
Remastered or not - and I chose to play through with the original graphics - Day of the Tentacle looks fantastic. It's cartoony vibes fit well with the absurdity of the task at hand: to stop a mutated tentacle from taking over the world and destroying all humans, while at the same time saving our friends who are stuck in both the past and future. Day of the Tentacle is going to require quite a bit of thought.
As well as playing with original graphics and sound, you can play with the original interface too, picking verbs from a list at the bottom of the screen and assigning them to objects in the world, confirming your selection and then getting it wrong anyway. It's a goddamn nightmare that was turned off and replaced with the much more useful pop-up selection dial - more useful in terms of using a controller to play (I'm having a go on the PS4 version) and that it is context-sensitive, and so doesn't give you options that you can't get a response from.
Still, dial or not, Day of the Tentacle reduces me to a blithering idiot rather quickly, which is unfortunate because I want to see where the story goes. Enter YouTube, but in a different form than usual...
The PlayStation 4 remaster comes with trophies and trophies come with video guides and video guides for Day of the Tentacle say you can get through this entire game, completing all the trophies and seeing everything you need to see in around two hours.
So that's what I did.
This game isn't absurd as such, but it does require you to solve puzzles across space and time. You can send items you find to another character, but some situations require you to leave them in the environment and let time do its thing, affecting the future in various ways.
The problem is that those solutions are mind-bendingly baffling, though I'm sure they make sense when you have that 'aha!' moment if you persist long enough and don't rely on a guide like I did.
For an example, In order to win a beauty contest for humans in future, we have to disguise ourselves as a tentacle by redesigning the American flag in the past and decorate a mummy with spaghetti and dentures. Where did we get those dentures? Well, we do meet George Washington in the past, but the dentures actually come from a horse who we bore to sleep by reading him a modern day textbook.
I would have had no chance at getting through this game in any useful length of time had I been left to my own devices, but being able to see it all and blitz through it in an efficient manner at least goes some way into showing just how complex and entertaining the puzzle solutions can be.
I can't say how challenging Day of the Tentacle actually is, having removed all the challenge from the game so that I could see it all, but I can say that it is an entertaining affair. Perhaps not as funny as the Monkey Island series, depending on your preferences, but funny nonetheless.
The look and feel of both the characters and their environments through time really help the game stand out visually, with minimal pixel-hunting but plenty of puzzle solving.
If that's your bag, dive right in, it's well worth some time. If you're not into it, like me, then do yourself a favour and try it (unlike me...) - it looks welcoming enough for you to enjoy looking at it at the very least.
You can play the entire Maniac Mansion on a computer inside Day of the Tentacle, should you want to go back and see how far things have come. And put a hamster in the microwave. Again.
Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, developed by LucasArts, first released in 1993.
Version 'played': Day of the Tentacle Remastered, PS4, 2016.
Version 'watched': Day of the Tentacle Remastered, PS4, 2016.