Day of the Tentacle, also known as Maniac Mansion II: Day of the Tentacle, is a 1993 graphic adventure game developed and published by LucasArts. It is the sequel to the 1987 game Maniac Mansion. The game's plot follows Bernard Bernoulli and his friends Hoagie and Laverne as they attempt to stop the evil Purple Tentacle—a sentient, disembodied tentacle—from taking over the world. The player takes control of the trio and solves puzzles while using time travel to explore different periods of history.
Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer co-led the game's development, their first time in such a role. The pair carried over a limited number of elements from Maniac Mansion and forwent the character selection aspect to simplify development. Inspirations included Chuck Jones cartoons and the history of the United States. Day of the Tentacle is the eighth LucasArts title to use the SCUMM engine.
The game was released simultaneously on floppy disk and CD-ROM to critical acclaim and commercial success. Critics focused on its cartoon-style visuals and comedic elements. Day of the Tentacle has featured regularly in lists of "top" games published more than two decades after its release, and aspects have been referenced in popular culture. A remaster of Day of the Tentacle was developed by Schafer's current studio, Double Fine Productions, and released on March 22, 2016 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows and OS X.
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 nine commands arrayed on the screen (such as "pick up", "use", or "talk to") 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 & 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.
Day of the Tentacle uses time travel extensively; early in the game, the three main protagonists are separated across time by the effects of a faulty time machine. The player, after completing certain puzzles, can then freely switch between these characters, interacting with the game's world in the separate time periods. Certain small inventory items can be shared by placing the item into the "Chron-o-Johns", modified portable toilets that instantly transport objects to the other time period, while other items are shared by simply leaving the item in a past time period to be picked up by a character in a future period. Changes made to a past time period will affect a future one, and many of the game's puzzles are based on the effect of time travel, aging of certain items, and alterations of the time stream. For example, one puzzle requires the player, while in the future era where Purple Tentacle has succeeded, 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 to allow that character to roam freely.
The whole original Maniac Mansion game can be played on a computer resembling a Commodore 64 inside the Day of the Tentacle game; this practice has since been repeated by other game developers, but at the time of Day of the Tentacle's release, it was unprecedented.
Five years after the events of Maniac Mansion, Purple Tentacle—a mutant monster and lab assistant created by mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison—drinks toxic sludge from a river behind Dr. Fred's laboratory. The sludge causes him to grow a pair of flipper-like arms, develop vastly increased intelligence and a thirst for global domination. Dr. Fred plans to resolve the issue by killing Purple Tentacle and his harmless, friendly brother Green Tentacle, but Green Tentacle sends a plea of help to his old friend, the nerd Bernard Bernoulli. Bernard travels to the Edison family motel with his two housemates, deranged medical student Laverne and roadie Hoagie, and frees the tentacles. Purple Tentacle escapes to resume his quest to take over the world.
A horizontal rectangular video game screenshot that is a digital representation of domestic room. Four characters stand around a table in the middle of the room. A list of words and icons are below the scene.
The game displays the point-and-click interface below the scene. Time travel and interaction with cartoon versions of figures from American colonial history, such as John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, are key to gameplay.
Since Purple Tentacle's plans are flawless and unstoppable, Dr. Fred decides to use his Chron-o-John time machines to send Bernard, Laverne and Hoagie to the day before to turn off his Sludge-o-Matic machine, thereby preventing Purple Tentacle's exposure to the sludge. However, because Dr. Fred used an imitation diamond rather than a real diamond as a power source for the time machine, the Chron-o-Johns breaks down in operation. Laverne is sent 200 years in the future, where humanity has been enslaved and Purple Tentacle rules the world from the Edison mansion, while Hoagie is dropped 200 years in the past, where the motel is being used by the Founding Fathers as a retreat to write the United States Constitution.
Bernard is returned to the present. To salvage Dr. Fred's plan, Bernard must acquire a replacement diamond for the time machine, while Hoagie and Laverne must restore power to their respective Chron-o-John pods by plugging them in. To overcome the lack of electricity in the past, Hoagie recruits the help of Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Fred's ancestor, Red Edison, to build a superbattery to power his pod, while Laverne evades capture by the tentacles long enough to run an extension cord to her unit. The three send small objects back and forth in time through the Chron-o-Johns and make changes to history to help the others complete their tasks.
Eventually, Bernard uses Dr. Fred's family fortune of royalties from Maniac Mansion to purchase a real diamond, both Laverne and Hoagie manage to power their Chron-o-Johns, and the three are reunited in the present. Purple Tentacle arrives, hijacks a Chron-o-John and takes it to the previous day to prevent them from turning off the sludge machine; he is pursued by Green Tentacle in another pod. With only one Chron-o-John pod left, Bernard, Hoagie and Laverne use it to pursue the tentacles to the previous day, while Dr. Fred uselessly tries to warn them of using the pod together, referencing the film The Fly.
Upon arriving, the trio exit the pod only to discover that they have been turned into a three-headed monster, their bodies merging into one during the transfer. Meanwhile, Purple Tentacle has used the time machine to bring countless of versions of himself from different moments in time to the same day to prevent the Sludge-o-Matic from being deactivated. Bernard and his friends defeat the Purple Tentacles guarding the Sludge-o-Matic, turn off the machine and prevent the whole series of events from ever happening. Returning to the present, Dr. Fred discovers that the three have not been turned into a monster at all but have just gotten stuck in the same set of clothes; they are then ordered by Dr. Fred to get out of his house. The game ends with the credits rolling over a tentacle-shaped American flag, one of the more significant results of their tampering in history.