Day of the Tentacle Remastered Review
A Remastered Masterpiece
Day of the Tentacle is back and looking snazzy! For those who aren’t familiar with Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman’s twisted time travel adventure, you are in for a treat. Between the two of them, they have made so many amazing point and click adventures (The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Pajama Sam, and various Telltale Games), but Day of the Tentacle has a truly unique story and puzzle system. It was initially released in 1993 by LucasArts (now Lucasfilm LTD) for PC and ran through DOS. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entered cd://dott.exe, for Day of the Tentacle is one of my top ten favorite oldies. Tim Schafer’s current studio, Double Fine Productions, has modernized graphics, sound, and gameplay controls to deliver us the masterpiece that is Day of the Tentacle Remastered. Before I even began playing the story, I was delighted to find a main menu.
The original game threw you immediately into the opening story cinematic, forcing you to load your save game while in-game. While that may have been common in older games, newer game almost always have menus. I am so glad they added a menu into DOTT Remastered. With the addition of the Concept Art Gallery, Developer’s Commentary, and options to completely customize your game controls, DOTT Remastered isn’t just a simply re-release.
Saving the Developer’s Commentary for a second playthrough, I began my stroll down memory lane, knowing full well those memories would be rewritten in beautiful cartoon HD.
Gameplay and Design:
In DOTT Remastered, players control three different characters: nerdy Bernard, metal-head Hoagie, and creepy medical student Laverne. Theses three have ventured back to Dr. Fred’s mansion/Laboratory, in order to save their friend Green Tentacle and the world along with him, from his evil brother Purple Tentacle. Both tentacles were created by Dr. Fred as lab assistants, and have opposite personalities. While walking outside the mansion, Purple Tentacle drinks from a river being polluted by a toxic waste creating machine of Dr. Fred’s.
This causes Purple Tentacle to grow arms, as well as become a maniacal super-intelligent being bent on conquering the world. The funny thing is, if the player asks Dr. Fred why he created the pollution machine in the first place, the doctor simply expresses that he would be a laughingstock to the other mad scientists if his lab didn’t produce toxic waste.
Arriving at the mansion, the player searches for the tentacles in the main hall using Bernard, while Hoagie and Laverne search elsewhere. Until the introduction is completed players will only be controlling Bernard. After entering Dr. Fred’s lab through a secret passage (you’ll find it, trust me), Bernard releases the tied up tentacles for fear Dr. Fred would kill them, unaware that he has just sealed the doom of the planet. An infuriated Dr. Fred forces our three heroes to help fix Bernard’s mistake with a plan to send them back to yesterday using porta-potty time machines called Chron-O-Johns, in hopes that turning off the machine will prevent Purple Tentacles transformation.
While traveling to yesterday, the fake diamond Dr. Fred is using to power the machine shatters. A time travel rift sends Hoagie 200 years into the past, Bernard back to the present, and Laverne 200 years into the future, all to the same house. You’ll now get to experience the awesome puzzle webbing of DOTT Remastered. Players control the characters, one at a time, by pointing and clicking on various objects, people, and places on screen. With options like open, close, pick-up, pull, talk to, and look at your fingertips, it becomes really fun to explore each scene.
Sooner or later, you’ll begin to realize that a certain item is needed in the past, but only found in the present. No problem! Items can be passed between characters by “flushing” them through time. I find it particularly hilarious how when flushing “spaghetti” through time, it comes out as “soggy noodles”, but items like a letter and envelope stay the same. It may sounds tedious to have to travel back and forth to the Chron-O-Johns just to pass items, but that’s not the case. Within the inventory screen, I was able to select an item and move it over to the picture of which character I wanted to send that item to and the characters will auto-transfer to each other and stay where they were after. This cuts out so much needless walking time from scene to scene that too often drags down other point and click experiences. It is important to explain that these features make DOTT Remastered easy to control, but not easier to solve.
The puzzles are what really makes DOTT Remastered so fun and hilarious. An early example of how puzzles pan out would be the case of how you gain control of Laverne. Arriving 200 years in the future, Laverne is stuck wedgie’d in a tree and uncontrollable until the player figures out how to get her out of the tree.
That same tree, 400 years earlier, is but a tiny Kumquat for Hoagie. In this twisted mash-up of history, historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, John Handcock, Thomas Jefferson, and (most importantly for chopping down the tree) George Washington have all convened at Dr. Fred’s relative Dr. Red’s house to write the Constitution of the United States of America. As we know from history folk-lore, George Washington is known for chopping down cherry trees, but not Kumquat. Without telling you how, the player will have to figure out a way to convince Washington that the Kumquat tree is indeed a cherry tree. Doing so, he will chop it down, preventing the tree from ever growing big enough for Laverne to get stuck in, thus dropping her down for player control. You’ll have a blast trying to change to past to fix the future, with DOTT Remastered’s endless amounts of cleverness and humor.
Even with the continual presence of new pixel games, it still feels like older games in the genre are hard sells for newer generations. With such amazing visuals being pulled off everyday in newer games, older games fly under the radar. The upgraded art style in DOTT Remastered blips big on radar with graphics so smooth it is literally like watching a cartoon. The sides to the HD scenes have also been added onto to fit new widescreen functions, literally adding new art to areas. The music has also been redone, breaking the barriers of its original midi sound track, to bring high quality real instrumental sound. Instead of simple beeps, boops, and electronic tones of midi, the sound track utilizes sounds from real instruments such as clarinet or lounge piano, to recreate the games light-hearted and goofy, almost circus-esque, musical atmosphere.
I mentioned early that the game provides options to completely customize your game experience. They do this by allowing the character to mix and match old school and new school game elements. Players can select combinations such as:
New School Grpahics w/ New School Dial Controls:
Old School Graphics w/ New School Dial Controls:
New School Graphics w/ Old School Grid Controls:
And finally Old School Graphics w/ Old School Grid Controls:
The old school and new school soundtracks can also be switched at ease, providing even more variety. Graphic/control/sounds load-outs are arranged in the settings tab, but if you want to quickly jump from complete new school to complete old school, a simply touch on the PS4 touch pad will instantly switch between versions.
As a fan of the original game, Day of the Tentacle Remastered is everything I want in a remastered game. Gameplay and originality have been preserved and showcased, never forgetting what put Day of the Tentacle on the map. Double Fine Productions also added TONS and TONS of hidden trophies, each with its own chuckle-inducing title that amused me along the way. The options provided to tweak with in-game graphics, sound, and control allowed me to play the game the way I wanted to, and never left me in sorrow wishing instead to play the original. It is my hope that these practices become mainstream and expected of all remastered games. Too often do new versions of old games forget what they once were. Whether you prefer the original art, or the new look that eliminates pixel bite, the game is bright and colorful, filled to the brim with quirky characters, and jam-packed with laughs, making it a MUST PLAY for point and click adventure fans.
Thank you for reading. Nolan — Totaltoad
Day of the Tentacle Remastered gets a 10/10 (Masterpiece)
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