Jon Gracey's

Games That Rocked…Paul Foxcroft’s World – #21: Day Of The Tentacle

In Mac, PC on January 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Title: Day Of The Tentacle

Format: PC, Mac

Released: June, 1993


Hello Jon’s readers, I’m Paul Foxcroft. This guy:

PaulTrust me.

This will mean little to you, but I’m a human man, I live in London, I make my living by pretending; and like Jon, I like games. Here’s the quite simple request I’ve been putting off for a few days now…

“The brief is simple: 1,000 words or less, on a game that you love / has changed your perspective / made a big impact on you in some way.”

So has that eaten into the word count? Yes. But now, you and I swim in the sea of context. Brilliant.

A game that I love, has changed my perspective or has made a big impact on me. There’s so many, I mean really. THERE ARE SO VERY MANY.

I could tell you about how I stopped playing Red Dead Redemption for a period of four months because the lead character was content and I assumed that the presence of further story missions suggested imminent tragedy. Or how Planescape: Torment* wasn’t just the most incredibly written storyline and brilliantly sculpted world, but that it introduced me to tabletop Dungeons and Dragons (for which I am eternally grateful). I could talk about XCOM (the original), but everyone’s doing that. Fallout, Bioshock, Sim City; all of these have been major influences in my life.

But no, I’m going to talk about a game of firsts. The first game I owned that was fully voice acted. The first game that came on the mysterious new CD-Rom format. The first game I remember laughing out loud at, but also the first game to be called; Day of the Tentacle.


Fuck, yeah.

Lucasarts were off-the-hook awesome back then, they do ok now, but the 90s was when they did their best work; let’s drop that truth bomb right now and let it incapacitate your mental ground forces. Done? Done.  Two individuals, Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer had worked on a the first few Monkey Island games for Lucasarts, who decided they’d give the boys a project of their own. Maniac Mansion was an early Lucasarts property and the license wasn’t being used for anything at the time, so we got some of the great characters from that game and some new, incredible ideas about how to make time-travel puzzles and Day Of The Tentacle happened.

You may not know the title, I’ll outline/ruin the plot for you then. If you do know it, proceed to the next paragraph where we’ll begin to reminisce like bosses. As for the rest of you; here’s the setup. Dr. Fred Edison is a mad scientist who owns a hotel, for reasons I can’t remember, he has two animate, sentient tentacles as pets; Purple Tentacle and Green Tentacle. They are purple and green. Purple has drunk some heavily polluted water and mutated, gaining arms (kinda) and a megalomaniac genius (actually). Dr. Fred plans to solve this problem by killing both tentacles.


Enter Green’s friend Bernard (and his friends Hoagie and Laverne) who frees the two imprisoned monsters, allowing Purple to take over the world. Dr. Fred sends the three friends back in time (using three time-travelling toilets called Chrono-Johns) to stop Purple becoming evil. But thanks to cheap-skatery, the toilets malfunction; leaving the three friends stranded in time! Well, in times. Bernard in the present, Hoagie 200 years in the past as the founding fathers stayed at the hotel and Lavern 200 years in the future in a nightmare land where tentacles rule and humans are the pets. Oh shit!

Its these “Chrono-johns” that take the game from being well-written and fun and make it incredible, there’s the standard “Put [Hamster] in [Freezer]” puzzles to solve (that one puts a hamster in a freezer), but using the time toilets to flush some small items to different periods allows greater scope for figuring out the riddles. More over, the game takes place across three time periods. Think about that for a second. Because the designers really did. Oh, did they ever have their shit together? Yes. Yes they did.

Tree causing you problems in the present? Goad George Washington until he cuts it down in the 1700s so it never existed now. Dealt with! Suck it, ”Never-tree”!


Motherfucker had wooden teeth.**

Need vinegar in the 1700s, simply bury wine now and dig it up in the future. Then flush it back to colonial times. Dealt with! Take that, “Once-wine”!

Need a disguise in the future? Simply replace the original pattern for the American flag with an anatomical chart of a tentacle and boom, the flag outside is now a wearable costume. Genius. Eat your own hubris, “Concept of Flags”!


Also, check this out. I googled a few things in the process of writing this, checking facts and names… but I found this:


That’s a sandstone model of Purple Tentacle. I WANT THIS.

That said, I also found this:


What the fuck IS this?

So, in conclusion, I forget my point. Whatever.

You ought to seek out a copy of this thing, here’s the first link from a childishly basic google search I did.

It might be useful. I have no idea***. Just try to forget all the shit I just spoiled earlier in this article. The writing of the game still stands up, obviously it’s not that pretty compared to today’s elaborate murder-simulators and there’s little-to-no murder. But if you can get past that little issue, I swear you’ll enjoy Day Of The Tentacle****, there’s a reason it has a Metacritic of 93%.Don’t let the fact that you weren’t me in the 90s ruin it for you. As it goes, embrace that reality. Me in the 90s wasn’t great.

This is over now.

*I’m totally writing one of these about Planescape:Torment.

**Not true.

***Really. No idea.

****Also, check out Psychonauts and Costume Quest too, they’re some of Schafer’s more recent work.



Paul Foxcroft wrote this and is funny. He write and performs comedy, tweets from @misterspidergod and improvises with Monkey Toast amongst LOADS OF OTHER THINGS. This is not him.


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