A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Day of the Tentacle Remastered is a downloadable adventure game that's a graphic upgrade of an old LucasArts title. It contains wacky humor, simple controls, and puzzles with outlandish or even nonsensical solutions. Like the old Warner Bros. cartoons, there's some silly violence in the form of exploding cigars and frozen hamsters but nothing bloody or realistic. There's nothing to worry about in terms of language or sexuality, but younger (or less patient) players could get frustrated with the game's old-school approach to interactivity.
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What's it about?
DAY OF THE TENTACLE REMASTERED is a re-release of a '90s point-and-click adventure game. Rather than one hero, it features three: Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne. This group of eccentric friends comes to rescue of Green Tentacle, a sentient creature left over from the previous (and related) game, Maniac Mansion. Together, they must stop another evil Purple Tentacle from taking over the world, using both their wits and three toilet-based time machines invented by Dr. Fred Edison. Players switch among Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne, who are all sent to different eras in time and use items passed through the time machines to positively alter events.
Is it any good?
This re-release of the 1993 adventure game spruces up the formerly pixelated graphics and adds a commentary track by the original developers, including co-designers Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer. Aside from that, it remains highly faithful to the original game, a strategy that dates it in ways non-nostalgic gamers might not appreciate. Classic adventure game fans will love it for its intricate puzzle design and wacky humor. They'll also get a kick out of using three heroes in three time periods, because it multiplies the gags and triples possibilities for item use. For anyone not a hard-core adventure enthusiast, though, the latter can dilute the fun. More options means more time swapping items among characters and more nonsensical puzzle solutions. (Sweater-wearing hamster. Enough said.)
Magnifying this is the Remaster's adherence to the original's clunky controls. Modern adventures would streamline the interface by allowing for fast travel and context-sensitive interactions, but developer Double Fine chooses to preserve a dinosaur-like, travel-heavy interface cluttered with redundant icons. They also retain the original voice cast, which, heard without the benefit of '90s nostalgia, is almost universally annoying. Finally, unlike others of Gilbert and Schafer's games, the jokes are feeling their age. Aside from the occasional clever reference to Star Wars, the jokes are about as good as an old Police Academy movie. They just don't hold up. The truth is, Day of the Tentacle Remastered's entertainment value is ultimately determined by your affection for the games of the '90s.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comparisons between old-school and modern video games. Which do you think are better? Why?
Discuss Dr. Fred's time-machine toilet. If you had to make a time machine out of an everyday item, what would it be? Why?
Think about working in teams. When were you last on a team, and what did you have to do?
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