Tag Archives: time travel

Review: Day of the Tentacle Remastered

dott cover
via Entertainment Factor

Day of the Tentacle Remastered (2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Adventure

Publisher: Double Fine Productions

Developer: Double Fine Productions


Tim Schafer is a genius when it comes to adventure games, and I genuinely mean that.  All you have to do is take a look at his past work, which includes games like Grim Fandango, the Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, and most recently Broken Age.  His latest trend, one that I wholeheartedly enjoy, is bringing some of these classics back, like Grim Fandango, as remastered versions.  Double Fine’s latest remaster project, Day of the Tentacle Remastered, brings back the wacky time-travel adventure that stars three odd-ball teenagers and one very evil purple tentacle.  The remaster beautifully modernizes the story while retaining the charm and amusement of the original.

dott 1
via multiplayer.it

You take control of the nerd Bernard Bernoulli, the weirdo Laverne, and the heavy metal roadie that goes by the name Hoagie.  They are a band of misfits that must work together to put a stop to the evil Purple Tentacle’s plans of world domination.  In order to stop Purple Tentacle in his tracks, they have to enlist the help of the mad scientist Dr. Fred and his janky time machine.  Dr. Fred attempts to send them back in time so the kids can shut off the contamination machine that is the source of Purple Tentacle’s powers, but thing’s go horribly wrong as you would expect.  The three kids are split up into three different time periods, the past, the present, and the future.  They must work together, in different eras, to bring a stop to Purple Tentacle and, in turn, save the world.

The game’s story, primarily designed by industry veterans Schafer and Dave Grossman, is consistently great and on point throughout the entire adventure.  Day of the Tentacle features a variety of comedy styles, ranging from benign potty humor to wry, sometimes dark, humor.  Every joke works well and there are a very slim few that don’t connect, even twenty years later in this day and age.  There was one early moment in particular, involving a down-on-his-luck product designer who puts a gun to his head in his hotel room, only to reveal a bright “BOOM” flag upon firing the weapon.  It was a shocking moment that still managed to paint a smile on my face.  The inclusion of time travel also makes for some great story and character moments as well.  Watching as Hoagie instilled his heavy metal slang on the founding fathers in the past makes for some great comedic material.  The story is smart and sharp all the way through till the credits roll.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered_20160327210641
via Polygamia

What made Day of the Tentacle so unique from other adventure games of its time was its time travel mechanics and the ability to switch between the different characters in their respective time periods.  It makes for some inventive puzzles that require some smart solutions.  Speaking of puzzles, unlike most adventure games of its time, the game never had any puzzles that require obtuse or abstract solutions.  Everything that you do makes sense and I never had to bash random items together in hopes of progressing the story.  The game makes you feel smart by letting you solve the problems in logical and clever ways.  With that being said, there were still some tough solutions, especially towards the latter half of the game.  It made me wish there was a built in hint system, which these remasters seemingly never have.  The game wasn’t overtly difficult, but a little dynamic hint system would have gone a long way.

There’s a layer of polish that lathers Day of the Tentacle Remastered that delightfully brings the game to life in this modern era of games.  Every screen was reworked from the ground up, giving the game higher resolution graphics.  The art isn’t the only thing got reworked, as the music was given a remastered treatment as well.  Maybe the best part about it all is that you can switch between the remastered and classic versions of the game on the fly with one press of a button.  I constantly found myself switching between the two just to marvel in the amount of work that was put into the remaster.  There’s also the inclusion of concept art, developer commentaries, and a fully playable version of the original Maniac Mansion, a little Easter egg that could have been found in the original version as well.  This amount of work that the game’s original creators put into this version of the game shows in every nook and cranny.

dott 3
via Fan Pop

As far as remastered games go, especially adventure games, Day of the Tentacle Remastered holds up extremely well, in large part thanks to Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine.  The game features a hilariously absurd and clever story that’s chock full of witty humor and ingenious references.  It also has a bright and cheery look that translates every single little detail from the original.  If you haven’t played the original, this is about as good as the game is going to get.  Now, the wait begins again for Tim Schafer’s next remaster project, Full Throttle.

dott score

Also available on PC and PSVita.

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My Formative Gaming Experience

If you’re a gamer, I’m willing to bet that at some point you have stepped back and thought about where it all began; where your love for games first got its start.  It’s a natural feeling.  As humans, the feeling of nostalgia is super real and a common part of our lives.  As of late, I too have started to think about where it all started for me.  I started to pinpoint the one game that I can attribute my love of gaming to and after some thought, Chrono Trigger, Square’s beloved RPG, was the game that towered over all.

chrono trigger 1
via Lazy Tech Guys

Chrono Trigger certainly wasn’t the first game that I remember playing.  The Gameboy Advance is where I got my start.  Believe it or not, my younger brother was the person that got me into gaming.  He received his Gameboy for his birthday one year and I remember following him around watching him play it.  It got to the point where I decided I wanted on for myself.  The first game that I put a lot of time into?  Pokemon: Crystal Version for the Gameboy Color.  I spent countless hours, a lot of them past my bedtime, roaming around the Johto region amassing my collection of Pokemon.  It was Chrono Trigger however that really cemented me as a gamer.  It lighted a fire in me, one that still burns today.  I liked playing video games before Chrono Trigger, but it was the game that put me past the point of no return.

Let’s get a little more nostalgic.  My formative gaming experience, the one that got me into games, consists of three key ingredients, one of which you are already familiar with.  These three key ingredients include Chrono Trigger (the game itself), a GameFAQs guide for the game, and French Toast Crunch.  Yep, when I look back, it’s these three things that really stand out from my personal formative experience.


Chrono Trigger

chrono trigger 2
via Game Fabrique

I’ve already talked about how Chrono Trigger was the one game that got me excited about gaming, but why did I like it so much?  The game was unlike anything I had played up to that point, having it’s hooks in me from the very start.  You start off as main character Chrono who visits the Millennial Fair, where a demonstration of a time machine is going to take place.  While roaming around the bright and cheery locale, you start to make decisions that directly affect where the story goes.  For instance, I stole a guy’s lunch so that I could have those items in my inventory…it just seemed natural.  Little did I know, that decision I made was brought up again as I was sent to jail for the petty theft that I committed.  It was these small things that really engrossed me in the game’s story.

The game’s use of time travel was also mind-blowing to me as a kid.  As you progress through the game, you are constantly traversing time and exploring different eras of the game’s world, which is similar to Earth.  You go back to the Prehistoric times, where you pick up one of my favorite characters from the game, the fierce and confident Ayla.  You also travel to the future, which is bleak and depressing…overrun by numerous robots and other technology.  It was fascinating going through time and witnessing the changes that took place over the years.  You are travelling to the same areas, but in different eras…allowing you to pick up on the differences and similarities.  As a kid, this was the coolest thing ever.

chrono trigger 3
via Fan Games

Finally, the game’s combat mechanics where simple enough for a young kid like me to pick up, but complex enough to keep me interested.  The game utilizes an Active Time Battle system, where the characters you bring into battle have their own personal timers and once those timers run down to zero, you can perform an action.  The enemies have their own timers as well, giving the system an “active” feel.  It was simple enough for me to grasp, and kept me entranced for hours on end.  The inclusion of double and triple attacks involving multiple characters was pretty great as well. Learning and mastering these techniques was satisfying, especially when these attacks would do massive amounts of damage.


A Chrono Trigger GameFAQ Guide

chrono trigger 4You’re probably wondering why the hell I would use a guide for a game like Chrono Trigger. Let’s take a couple of things into consideration.  I was still pretty young at the time, so getting through an entire game like Chrono Trigger was pretty tough for me.  The game has multiple endings based on the decisions that you make and my first time through I got one of the worst endings.  It was also one of the easiest endings to achieve, as it doesn’t take much.  It was from that point forward that I decided that I needed a guide to get the good endings that I wanted.

chrono trigger 6

Without further ado, I hopped on my grandma’s computer and started searching around for what I could find in terms of a “guide.”  I was new to the internet at the time, so the process took over a day.  The internet was a weird and often foreboding place.  I finally stumbled onto the popular website GameFAQs, a place totally dedicated to providing guides to help players get through games.  After perusing the site for anything related to Chrono Trigger, I finally found a full guide that had everything I could ever want.  Walkthroughs, item descriptions, secret locations, enemy strategies, etc.  Everything was there.  The guide was almost 250 pages long…so I decided to print out the whole damn thing.  A lot of printer paper and ink (which was super expensive at the time) was sacrificed that day, but that sacrifice was well worth it.  I cherished that guide and I carried it around with me in its own special folder.  From then on, whenever I played Chrono Trigger, you better believe that my 250 page FAQ was right there beside me.


French Toast Crunch

chrono trigger 5
via Hello Quizzy

What does the wonderfully delicious French Toast Crunch have to do with Chrono Trigger you ask?  Well, nothing really.  That doesn’t mean that this snack was important to my experience though.  After reflecting on my experience with Chrono Trigger, I decided to go full nostalgia mode and think back to the one snack that I identify with that game, and French Toast Crunch was that snack.  Aside from being the best cereal ever, it was also my primary choice of snack if we had it in the house.  We would get cereal a lot, and whenever this cereal would arrive in the house…it wasn’t safe.  It would be gone in almost two days flat.  I can remember munching on bowls of French Toast Crunch while playing Chrono Trigger.  It was the only way to go.  No really, French Toast Crunch is really good.  I could literally write an entire article about why French Toast Crunch is so great.  It was a travesty when the cereal was discontinued.  Luckily, the people over at General Mills realized the mistake the made and recently brought it back into stores.  So, all is right with the world.


I have personally come a long way since my formative gaming experience, but it’s fun to go back and think about where it all started.  I still have fond memories of my formative gaming experience, involving Chrono Trigger, a GameFAQ, and a bowl of French Toast Crunch.  Nowadays I don’t use guides when I play games (unless I am going for trophies) and I don’t eat as much French Toast Crunch.  Sometimes that’s just how it goes.  However, it was these elements that really formed me into the gamer that I am today.

Thanks to Alexander Kubal, community manger at Man Crates, for the idea for this post.  They ship out great stuff in wooden crates that can only be opened with a crowbar.  Pretty cool stuff.  You can check it out for yourself over at ManCrates.com

Review: Life is Strange Episode 5

via Game Soul
via Game Soul

Life is Strange Episode 5 (Polarized) (2015)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment


The greatest part about choice-based storytelling games is watching the effects of your hard decisions transpire into multi-dimensional stories.  Telltale Games have made a majority of these games to this day but a small studio named DONTNOD Entertainment, a Square-Enix studio, released Life is Strange’s first episode all the way back in January of this year.  The game, in similar vein to the Telltale games, gave us a game full of player choice framed within a unique story about time travel and the consequences of such a power.  Over the previous four episodes, a lot of choices had to be made and the consequences were very real…but none of this matters at the end of the series’ finale, Polarized, which is a real bummer.

via PS4 Home
via PS4 Home

Polarized takes place right after the bothersome events of the fourth episode, which provided us with probably one of the biggest plot twists of the season.  It was a twist that you couldn’t possibly see coming, no matter how hard you think about it.  Anyway, series protagonist Max Caulfield starts to realize the true nature of her powers and how messed up she has made things.  A lot of events have taken place since the first pivotal moment in Blackwell Academy’s bathroom with Chloe and Nathan, and things have only gotten worse.  Max starts to ponder if all of this is her fault.  Are her powers, which seemed good at the time, actually hurting people more than helping them?  That is the question that is thrown around constantly during the duration of the finale.

It makes way for a satisfying and very reflective finale.  The consequences of her decisions make her ponder if she is making the right choices.  Exploring these situations leads her to travel between different realities, desperately trying to find the right choice that makes everything right, the choice that makes everything normal again.  Obviously, traveling between a number of different realities in time leads to some adverse mental and physically effects on Max, causing her to break down after a while.

via VG24/7
via VG24/7

Finally, all of the time and reality travelling catches up to Max, putting her in a nightmare like sequence that pretty much takes us to the end of the episode.  Although these psychological and often times pretty dark sequences make for some great moments (At one point Max is sitting in a snow globe on the mantle in Chloe’s house staring at herself as a young child.  Pretty powerful stuff.), a lot of the gameplay during these moments was pretty frustrating.  There’s a weird portion of the nightmare where you have to sneak your way through a series of hallways, locker rooms, and outdoor areas on the way to the distant lighthouse.  Characters like Mr. Jefferson, Nathan, and the principal (among others), are trying to look for you with flashlights.  Avoiding the lights was pretty frustrating and I just found myself spamming the time rewind button in order to make it the end goal.  It stopped being fun after a while and turned into an actual nightmare.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the episode was the final decision at the end.  I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, STOP READING THIS PARAGRAPH.  The final choice that you have to make revolves around either sacrificing Chloe to her fate of getting shot in the bathroom to save Arcadia Bay or saving Chloe for good, letting Arcadia Bay get eaten up by the apocalyptic storm.  It’s a touch choice to make but it’s binary in nature, making the choice pretty cheap.  If you choose to save Arcadia Bay, then all of your choices you have made in previous episodes don’t matter anymore because everything is back to normal and everybody is okay.  If you choose to save Chloe, then Arcadia Bay is totally destroyed by the storm…once again almost negating the choices that you made previously.  It’s kind of a crappy way to end a choice-driven story.  A good choice-driven story should wrap up in a variety of different ways depending on the consequences of your choices.  Life is Strange throws all of this into the water, giving us either ending A or ending B, and not much else.  It’s pretty frustrating, especially since the story had a ton of potential.

via MMGM
via MMGM

It’s sad to see such a great new series come to an end in such a bad way.  I had an awesome time with the game and its refreshing and original story.  It was intriguing and often thought-provoking and the decisions that you had to make were pretty meaningful for the most part.  It’s a shame that all of these choices are written away during the game’s final moments. In the end, I have to applaud DONTNOD and Square-Enix for their Life is Strange, but it could have been so much better.  It had the potential to be so much more.

life is strange e5 score

Also available on PC, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360