We’re almost at the end of January and so far my New Year’s resolution to play more games is going to plan. I’ve completed The Last Guardian after receiving it as a present from my other-half; I’m almost through Year Walk and just need to find a spare 20 minutes to make it to the end; and I’ve watched my stepson play so much Minecraft on the weekends that I now can’t bear to look at another block.
It’s unusual for both Pete and I to arrive home at the same time during the week and our evenings usually consist of one of us getting the chores done while the other has to work late. So when we do, it’s kind of a big deal: we giggle excitedly like children at Christmas as we walk through the door because it means we might be able to fit in a couple of hours of gaming together. Monday was one such night and after pondering over what to play, we decided that something old-school was in order and started Day of the Tentacle Remastered (sorry Firewatch and Oxenfree, you’ll have to wait).
I’ve written before that I’m a big fan of the adventure genre but I have to admit that this was one LucasArts’ title that passed me by in the 1990s – I was too busy swooning over Guybrush and fighting off zombie-ghost-pirates. I played Maniac Mansion briefly in my younger years but it wasn’t a game that held my attention so I never finished it or made it to the sequel. But, with Day on the Tentacle appearing on so many you-must-play lists (and the fact it was one of the PlayStation Plus freebies this month), it seemed like something I should finally get around to.
We watched the introduction and opening credits, with me filling in bits of the backstory for Pete who hadn’t played either of the titles at all. We witnessed Purple Tentacle drinking the toxic sludge behind Dr Fred’s lab and vowing to take over the world. We saw Bernard, Laverne and Hoagie attempt to travel back in time to stop the event from ever happening but becoming displaced in different years after a nasty Chron-O-John accident. And we guided Hoagie through the Inn occupied by the Founding Fathers as they struggled to write the Constitution 200 years in the past, rifling through drawers and cupboards as we went.
“Isn’t it funny,” I mused, “how you can go through someone’s belongings in an adventure game and they won’t even try to stop you?”
We all have our little quirks when it comes to playing video games and this is mine: I’ll always examine every item in the environment before talking to the character right in the middle of it. It’s obvious that that’s the action needed to progress the story but I want to get a feel for the surroundings and situation first so I’m more prepared for whatever comes next. It doesn’t work every time and you can sometimes find yourself thrown into the middle of a conversation without an introduction to get your bearings; but it’s now a habit I can’t seem to shake, so I’ll take the risk.
Red Edison, scientist and Dr Fred’s ancestor, may have stopped us when we tried to take the laboratory coat because Hoagie wasn’t one of his employees. But other than that he let us get on with rummaging through his belongings uninterrupted, even allowing us take the left-handed hammer without even questioning who we were or what we were doing in his room. To be fair, he didn’t even flinch when we finally got around to talking to him and explaining we were from the future – so I guess the hammer is a minor point.
Looking back on adventures from the nineties today often brings about a feeling of ‘strangeness’ in me. Back at the time of their release, I never stopped to question any aspect of their storyline or mechanics; and now here I am wondering why Red hasn’t called the police. I’m aware that in part this is due to me getting older but nobody likes to acknowledge their age so I’ll instead put it down to my tastes changing over time. And that’s the great thing about the adventure genre and video games in general: whether you’re looking for a fantasy experience or a more realistic one, there’s a title out there to suit everybody.
Anyway, I was playing a game involving an evil Purple Tentacle trying to take over the world and a solution of time-travel… so maybe Red’s reaction to Hoagie’s appearance wasn’t so strange after all. And besides, Day of the Tentacle Remastered did give me the chance to finally investigate Ben’s bed.
I hope his wife doesn’t mind too much.