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Day of the Tentacle
Day of the Tentacle artwork.jpg
Release Date 1993, 2016
System DOS, Mac OS, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Windows
Engine SCUMM (visual)
iMUSE (audio)

Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle is a graphical adventure game, originally released in 1993, and published by LucasArts. It is the eighth game to use the SCUMM engine. It was released simultaneously on floppy disk and CD-ROM. Day of the Tentacle was designed by Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer.

The game, a loose sequel to Maniac Mansion, is focused on Bernard Bernoulli — the only one of the three playable characters that was featured in the first game — and his friends Laverne and Hoagie, as they help Dr. Fred Edison using a time machine to prevent Purple Tentacle from taking over the world. The game utilizes time travel and the effects of changing history as part of the many puzzles to be solved in the game.


Day of the Tentacle follows the point-and-click two-dimensional adventure game formula, first established by the original Maniac Mansion. Players direct the controllable characters around the game world by clicking with the computer mouse. To interact with the game world, players choose from a set of commands arrayed on the screen and then on an object in the world. This was the last SCUMM game to use the original interface of having the bottom of the screen being taken up by a verb selection and inventory; starting with the next game to use the SCUMM engine, Sam and Max Hit the Road, the engine was modified to scroll through a more concise list of verbs with the right mouse button and having the inventory on a separate screen. This formula carried on to later games in the franchise, such as The Dig, Full Throttle and The Curse of Monkey Island. In Day of the Tentacle, the player can switch between any one of the three playable characters at any time, though two of the characters must first be unlocked by the completion of certain puzzles. The three protagonists can also share inventory items amongst themselves (at least, those items that can be stowed in a toilet), a feature that plays into many of the game's puzzles. Many puzzles are based on time travel and the effects of aging on objects and the changing of the past are used as part of the solution. For example, one puzzle requires the player to send a medical chart of a Tentacle back to the past, having it used as the design of the American flag, then collecting one such flag in the future to be used as a Tentacle disguise.

In Maniac Mansion, the playable characters can be killed by various sequences of events. LucasArts adopted a different philosophy towards its adventure games in 1990, beginning with Loom. Their philosophy was that the game should not punish the player for exploring the game world. Accordingly, in most of the adventure games released by LucasArts after Loom, including Day of the Tentacle, the player character(s) cannot die.

The whole original Maniac Mansion game can be played on a computer inside the Day of the Tentacle game, a practice that other game developers have repeated, but at the time of Day of the Tentacle's release this was unprecedented.[1]



The Purple Tentacle, seen here shortly after his mutation in the opening cinematic, is the main antagonist in Day of the Tentacle.

The game, which takes place five years after Maniac Mansion, opens with Purple Tentacle becoming exposed to toxic waste from Dr. Fred Edison's Mansion, growing a pair of arms and acquiring a thirst for global domination. Dr. Fred catches Purple Tentacle, as well as the friendly, non-evil Green Tentacle, and keeps them both in his basement before deciding that he will euthanize them. That evening, Green Tentacle sends a plea of help to his old friend Bernard — a stereotypical nerd — who heads off to the mansion to rescue him, accompanied by his friends, Laverne, a slightly psychotic medical student, and Hoagie, a laid-back rock band roadie. Bernard frees Green and Purple, only for Purple to inform him of his plans of world domination and resume his conquering of the Earth. Dr. Edison attempts to send the three friends back in time using his time machine, which consists of a central unit made out of an old car and three personal travel units called "Chron-o-Johns", made from Port-a-johns. By doing so, they can turn off the sludge machine which produced the toxic waste so that Purple Tentacle never ingests the waste in the first place, hence stopping him from taking over the world. However, because Dr. Edison has used an imitation diamond as the power source, the machine fails, sending Hoagie 200 years in the past at the creation of the United States Constitution and Laverne 200 years in the future to a Tentacle-controlled world where humans are treated as pets, while Bernard remains in the present. Dr. Edison tasks Bernard with finding a real diamond to power the time machine to return his friends, while informing Hoagie and Laverne through the Chron-o-John that they must find power sources for their own units in order to bring them back. Fortunately, the three can send small objects back and forth in time through the Chron-o-Johns in order to complete these tasks.

Eventually, Bernard uses Dr. Edison's old family fortune to buy a real diamond, both Laverne and Hoagie manage to power their units, and the three are reunited in the present. Dr. Edison attempts to send them back into the past again, this time successfully. Upon arrival, they find that the Purple Tentacle from 200 years in the future has also used the time machine to bring several other versions of himself to the same day to prevent them from turning off the sludge machine. Bernard and his friends successfully defeat all the Purple Tentacles, turn off the machine and restore the course of future events to normal order. The game ends with the credits rolling over a Tentacle-shaped American flag, the sole result of their tampering in history.

Historical interaction[]

One of the aspects of Day of the Tentacle's plot is that it gives the game player the opportunity to interact with several important historical figures from colonial America, namely George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and Betsy Ross. Their personality traits are exaggerated for comic effect. Their descendants (or at least characters that resemble them) can be seen in the other ages. Harold, seemingly a descendant of Washington, appears as a transvestite in a future beauty contest organized by the Tentacles. An apparent descendant of Ben Franklin makes an appearance as a novelty toy salesman and a descendant of John Hancock appears as a depressed inventor named Dwayne.

Some of the more entertaining puzzles of the game involve these characters. In one sequence, Hoagie must give an exploding cigar to Washington in order to replace his famous false teeth with chattering novelty mechanical dentures, while in another he gives a drawing of a tentacle to Ross, who sews it into the American flag. By painting the fruits of a kumquat tree red, the player forces Washington to chop down the created "cherry" tree, also a myth concerning Washington's youth.


Day of the Tentacle was well received at the time of its release, and still features regularly in lists of 'top' games to this day. Adventure Gamers included the game as #1 on their 20 Greatest Adventure Games of All Time List.[2] IGN rated it number 60 on their 2005 top 100 games list,[3] it is also listed as one of the greatest games of all time on GameSpot.[1]

Adventure Gamers' review rated the game 5 out of 5, stating "If someone were to ask for a few examples of games that exemplify the best of the graphic adventure genre, Day of the Tentacle would certainly be near the top".[4]


The game was originally intended to resemble Maniac Mansion more closely, with the player allowed to choose from among six characters (who would have included a male poet named Chester, a female hippie named Moonglow (described as "a New Age girl with sandals"), and Razor from the original game). This idea was dropped in preproduction to simplify the project. The art created for the character of Chester was eventually adapted for the characters of the sculptor twins in the final game.


Original music for this game was written by Clint Bajakian, Peter McConnell, and Michael Land, who each respectively wrote most of the music for the Past, Present, and Future sections of the game.[5]

The soundtrack for the opening scene begins with the Ranz des Vaches melody, well known for its inclusion in Gioachino Rossini's William Tell Overture.

See also[]

  • LucasArts adventure games
  • ScummVM


  • One of the questions you can ask older Purple Tentacle is "Will the Sharks ever have a winning season?". This refers to the then-recent expansion NHL team San Jose Sharks, who had yet to have a winning season. Since then, however, the Sharks have had several winning seasons, including many since 2000. They even made the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, taking it to game 6.
    • The fact that they mention the Sharks refers to LucasArts' headquarters in San Francisco.
  • George Washington is made to sound like Thurston Howell III from the sitcom Gilligan's Island. In reality he was born in Virginia to American parents. From that one can infer that Washington spoke with a Virginian accent.
    • Thomas Jefferson was also born in Virginia, but in game he also speaks with a different accent.
    • John Hancock was born in Massachusetts, but in game he speaks in a rather meek tone.
    • Ben Franklin speaks rather jollily in game, but in reality he was born in Massachusetts.
  • Hoagie travels 200 years in the past, in other words to 1794. Although the United States Constitution is being written when Hoagie arrives, in reality the Constitution was ratified six years earlier.
    • Also, Washington has not been elected President at this time. In reality Washington was elected President in 1788.
    • Although Washington expected to be elected unanimously, half of the electoral votes went against him. However, Washington still won as the other votes were divided amongst other candidates.
  • Although Washington recognizes that Hoagie has the same name as a sandwich, in reality the hoagie was not invented until the nineteenth century.
  • The calendar in Dr. Fred's office depicts Darth Vader.
  • The number to call to order the diamond is 1-800-STAR-WARS
    • Such a number would be impossible in real life, as it has too many numbers.
    • 1-800-STAR-WARS was Lucasfilm Games and Lucas Arts' hint line in the 1990s where you could pay with a credit card for tips on adventure games when you were stuck.
    • Such a valuable diamond would in reality not be sold on a public shopping channel, as its value would not be affordable and the diamond would likely be in a museum.
  • Max from Sam and Max can be seen on a painting in the upstairs hallway.
  • After Dr. Fred goes upstairs and Bernard acquires the plans, Dr. Fred appears from the left. Bernard then asks "How did you get over there?".
  • Green Tentacle says that his band is up for a Grimy Award, a parody of the Grammy Awards.
  • Laverne thinks that the time portal may be "that Woodstock place [her] parents are always talking about". This implies that her parents are hippies.
  • Betsy Ross was born in Pennsylvania.
  • When Laverne places the hamster in the microwave, she informs the player of the retribution for doing so where she comes from. This is as reference to a similar puzzle in Maniac Mansion.
  • If you use the computer in Ed Edison's room, you can play Maniac Mansion as an Easter egg.


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External links[]

Template:LucasArts adventure games Template:LucasArts game engines

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