Saturday 11 March 2023

Day of the Tentacle - Final Rating

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

What can I say about Day of the Tentacle that hasn't probably been said by someone else? I don't know. That's sort of the reason I prefer playing and picking out the more obscure options, whatever I say hasn't been said before. I'm sure the sentiment that while this game is good, it isn't the greatest adventure game of all time is shared by many people. It's not necessarily everyone's favorite, but it is high enough on everyone's lists that its reasonable to put it at the number one spot. I'm not sure I would put it in my own top ten though.

Now of course, since this is me, someone who has mixed feelings on comedy adventure games in the past, one might point out that this is just my own bias against that. I think not, I enjoyed the comedy, most of it anyway, I find myself having issues with other aspects of it. For instance, I have mixed feelings on the same house throughout time concept. It keeps things focused and it's neat seeing roughly the same house over the centuries. It takes away all sense of exploration, because even if you haven't seen where you need to go, you already know where you need to go. There's never any sense of adventure and the game never does anything to fill that absence. In that sense, it's a pure puzzle and comedy game, everything else doesn't really matter.

Puzzles and Solvability

I liked a lot of the puzzles. Let's take the big puzzle that stumped me, the door puzzle. Close a door to find a key. I like it, it's not the best one I've seen, but it's a good concept. It takes advantage of a concept you might not normally think of. If I broke into your house, I would naturally look behind a door to find something. After all, I don't know what's behind it. Maybe gold! But in an adventure game doors are automatically beneath suspicion. They are just things that whenever we have to deal with, open and forget. Taking advantage of that assumption is clever. I say not the best one, because as those of you who played that game know, that game has doors automatically close most of the time, so the ones that don't stick out. This case feels like it's more easy to fall into the trap of just doing everything on everything.

Then we get to the rest of the puzzles that had me stumped. Pushing Edna out of the room. My problem is that I generally think of any actions beyond the standard Sierra set to be superficial and only used for rather obvious things. I will applaud the game for making the sections relating to this solvable even if you don't figure out the whole overarching puzzle.

But I have less fond feelings towards some of these. Firstly, the gum. They had an idea for a decent puzzle. Use a crowbar on a piece of gum, it's funny because it's incredibly excessive. Then they added in a whole bunch of items that could all in their own way solve this puzzle. The coffee, of course, could be tossed away as being highly dangerous. But the others have less useful explanations. You can't use the hammer on it...because nobody involved in the game has ever seen those flattened wads of gum on the road. You can't use the scalpel because you'll cut yourself. Speaking from experience, I'd sooner trust a scalpel than a crowbar to remove gum if I were concerned about hitting myself. The too many items that could be used on one puzzle also applies to the vending machine.

I also immensely dislike the mattress puzzle. It seems that every step of the puzzle is enough to cause a headache in anyone. Assuming you can figure it out, you exchange a pair of mattresses, but the issue is that it's not obvious how you do this. Doesn't help this is one of the parts of the game that you have to play to find the hotspot. These issues are repeated with a latter puzzle involving Dr. Fred, but at least that one has an obvious solution.

It's disappointing that despite having multiple characters, there's no reason why there really needed to be multiple characters. They all basically function as slightly different inventories separated by an obtuse inventory exchange system. With a few alterations to the general plot, you could just have one of the leads travel back and forth. It's just here because its a Maniac Mansion sequel and Maniac Mansion has multiple characters.

In general the puzzles were pretty good. Lots of clever uses of the various items, which generally work pretty well. However, there are two tiny issues I have here. Firstly, it kind of feels like the size of what you can send through time is inconsistent. I can send Bernard's textbook through time, which means the size of the Chron-a-John must be...big, except its the only item of that size that can be sent through. I also tended to not figure out big picture puzzles before I accidentally solved them via dozens of little puzzles. Both a positive and a negative really, not having to think about the big picture.


Interface and Inventory

I've never been the biggest fan of Lucasarts method of taking up half the screen's real estate with buttons, but that's just a personal issue, and it works fine. For the most part. I have minor issues with the way the game's hotspots are set up. Far too many seem to be set up too close to other hotspots and it's annoying dealing with it. It's not as bad as it could be, since the game shows what it is you're mousing over, like most Lucasarts titles, and the only real trouble I've mentioned.

Which leads into my other problem, the item cursors don't have an obvious point to them. A cursor, as you know, is not some giant thing that activates everything it touches, it activates at a point. With your average pointer, this point is obvious, it's at the end. The regular cursor in this game doesn't have this issue, since its a crosshair, but items are just the item's picture. So the item's point is not obvious.

Thinking about it, a mobile port (at least SCUMMVM) I assume exists would probably improve upon this point. While the human finger is an awful substitute for a cursor, it works better in situations I describe since you have a slightly better idea where the point is. Following up this point, Maniac Mansion must be completely unplayable in such a situation.

The inventory system generally works fine, it has a pretty decent number of inter item interactions, but I often found myself wishing that item messages were slightly different or more informative. The fake barf actively annoyed me, as it's message was "That's one of the few places that fake barf isn't useful." which is one of the most unhelpful messages short of the game deciding it wants to be a prick and insult the player. Other items would occasionally get on my nerves, but not enough for me to remember it.


Story and Setting

The story of Day of the Tentacle is not all that important or focused on. Three people are here to save the world from an evil tentacle, and they do so by travelling through time. One screws up the past, and one screws up the future...which is controlled by the evil tentacle. While it is an interesting journey, like I said, the story isn't the focus.

I think the game flows well enough, the gradual opening up of the three characters was the right choice. If you plan things right, you can have a lot of the game opened up before ever reaching any of the latter characters.

While it was neat seeing the house throughout time, I don't know that I necessarily liked it. Like I said, there's basically no exploration in the game. You can replace that with something, as many mystery games have managed to do, but it does feel like the game is lacking something.


Sound and Graphics

The sound is good. Sounds are pretty much as expected. Nothing sounds off outside of the expected low bitrate for the era. Everything loops properly. There's nothing really worth talking about. Musically, it's much the same thing, in one ear and out the other. It's good in that I didn't really complain about it despite playing the game for hours, but I wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars on a vinyl copy. Or any money on any copy, really. I don't really remember anything about it beyond the classical "happy meadows" piece the game opened with.

I really like how the game has the ability to adjust the volume of the midi music, that's very rare, so much so that I can't say I've seen a game before this chronologically that did it.

Backgrounds. Disregarding content for a moment, I do not care for proper drawings shrunken down to 320x200, it always looks off. I will say that thanks to clever design work, they made it look better than it would normally look, but it is noticeable. The modern remaster seems off in different ways, like it's some lazily done digital upscale even if I know it isn't. It'd be nice to see the original drawings just scanned at high resolution, but I'm sure they no longer exist. Any Lucasarts archive doesn't contain the original art.

I feel like I generally like the backgrounds more in idea than in practice. It's just a bit too stylized. It feels less like a Looney Tune and more like a surrealistic cartoon, more in line with (then) contemporary cartoons, of which I have no nostalgia for. Let's pick out an easy target, the trees. They don't look like trees as much as what a tree would look like as drawn by someone who never saw one, but read about them in books. It's always background parts like that and never actually important bits.

But the animation, wow. That is some impressive stuff. The amount of the stuff they got in here is amazing, and it all looks pretty good. I guess if I want to look for failure, it has a low framerate, but even so, they managed to nail the cartoon visuals. It's genuinely impressive they got it all in the space they managed to at the time. It's not even just sprinkled in at the start like so many other games do, it's sprinkled throughout all of it.


Environment and Atmosphere

Every screen is fairly well fleshed out, with a clever thought or comment for every reasonable action you could perform on whichever object. It's funny, looking at a lot of latter games, it sometimes feel like those are missing something in terms of proper responses, and yet they don't really lack anything that this game has. An observation, perhaps, that I've been too harsh on more recent games rather than anything relating to this one.

The game does a very good job at imitating the cartoons of yore in terms of tone. The problem I feel is not whether or not that's good, but whether or not I actually care for that tone in an adventure game. You cannot engage in the comedy yourself as you would in an action game, just whatever the developers had the time and desire to give you. Which I feel in a sense would get into tangent territory, but the Goblins series manages to have a better feeling of control over the comedy. This merely feels as though I occasionally have some input in things.


Dialogue and Acting

Mostly comedic, with any dialog advancing the plot arriving practically by mistake. It does a good job here, there are enough jokes at a good enough pace that any that don't land are already gone by the time you realize you didn't care for it. Going into specifics would really just be repeating jokes.

The actors all fall into a usual group of cartoon stereotypes, well-worn but effective. I'm of two minds. I dislike the voices of some minor characters, but the stereotype is in the end to be annoying. I can't really blame a character intended to be annoying for being annoying. That said, I do think that the clips of Laverne saying some things in a different voice is highly unprofessional, and not something I expected from a Lucasarts game of all things. I have no other issues with the voice acting.


8+8+5+7+7+8=43, that divided by 0.6 is 71.6, or 72.

Exactly the same as KGB. Farewell Quest for Glory II, you probably didn't deserve it, but oh, well.

Corey Cole got the closest guess at 77 or 76. I say or there, because the 76-77 range isn't entirely clear, but in either event, Cole has the closest score. Probably a small consolation for me kicking one of his games off the top ten...

I don't need to check reviews of this game for the most part, since this is Day of the Tentacle, but I was curious enough about negative reviews to check a few usual places. The opinion on this really is 100% positive as far as the adventure sphere is concerned, with a very small number of outliers. Interestingly, looking at reviews of the remaster, it seems that is worse off in many ways. Seems like no perfect version of this game will ever exist.

With that over, this is more or less going to be the high point of games I blog about. At least from the percieved high score of it. Since its highly unlikely that anything I end up covering will have quite the popularity that this game did. Perhaps even the highest score I give out, at least for some time. Ever really depends on whether or not Cosmology of Kyoto is everything it's said to be. 1995 is a long way out though, and 1994 could end up being very interesting.

In the meantime, I think my next missed classic will be the Magnetic Scrolls classic, The Pawn. Though I might chose a detour first...Unless people would prefer some more, hopefully less obtuse, 1993 missed classics...?

CAP Distribution

150 CAPs to Morpheus Kitami

  • DOTT Award - 100 CAPs for playing through DOTT for our enjoyment.
  • Prime Minister Award - 50 CAPs for playing through Oseung-gwa Haneum for our enjoyment.

110 CAPs to Joe

  • Santa Claus Award - 50 CAPs for playing through Santa and the Goblins for our enjoyment
  • CAPtain Award - 50 CAPs for playing through Nord and Bert for our enjoyment.
  • Green Slime Doesn't Come from Green Tentacles award - 10 CAPs for correctly identifying a classic 80s TV show from a grainy screenshot.

75 CAPs to Michael

  • Castle Master Award - 50 CAPs for playing through Castle Adventure for our enjoyment.
  • Playalong Award - 25 CAPs for playing along with the Day of the Tentacle entries and illuminating us with his takes on a game he's played through many, many times.

50 CAPs to PsOmA

  • What's Your Story Award - 20 CAPs for sending What's Your Story answers
  • Playalong Award - 25 CAPs for playing along with the Day of the Tentacle entries.
  • Ten Minute Award - 5 CAPs for torturing himself and his son by playing Oseung-gwa Haneum after I had already given up...for ten minutes.

38 CAPs to Lisa H

  • Playalong Award - 25 CAPs for playing along with the Day of the Tentacle entries.
  • I'm Trying to Think Award - 5 CAPs for a funny anecdote regarding a side character in Grim Fandango.
  • Phone Home Award - 5 CAPs for explaining that the in-game phone number is Lucasarts actual phone number, and something I didn't know about phone numbers.
  • TAG Home Game Award - 3 CAPs for thinking up her own rating for the game, which turned out to be pretty close to the one I gave.

35 CAPs to Laukku

  • Valiant Defender Award - 15 CAPs for the sheer number of links he has found praising some aspect of Day of the Tentacle.
  • You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet Award - 10 CAPs for his impassioned statement on Gabriel Knight.
  • Technical Assistance Award - 10 CAPs for telling me the command to activate subtitles.

25 CAPs to El despertando

  • What's Your Story Award - 20 CAPs for sending What's Your Story answers
  • Misery Award - 5 CAPs for figuring out that Oseung-gwa Haneum would be something of a slog.

20 CAPs to LeftHanded Matt

  • What's Your Story Award - 20 CAPs for sending What's Your Story answers

20 CAPs to Corey Cole

  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs for correctly guessing the score to Day of the Tentacle.
  • Historical Anecdote Award - 10 CAPs for an interesting story regarding the voice production during Quest for Glory 4.

10 CAPs to Radiant

  • Classic Toolmaker Award - 10 CAPs for sharing a map editor he programmed for Castle Adventure when he was a teenager.

10 CAPs to Leo Velles

  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs for correctly guessing the score to Oseung-gwa Haneum.

10 CAPs to Reiko

  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs for correctly guessing the score to Castle Adventure.

10 CAPs to ShaddamIVth

  • Caption Master Award - 10 CAPs for winning the caption contest on Oseung-gwa Haneum.

5 CAPs to Adam Thornton

  • The Duke Award - 5 CAPs for explaining why the microwave is called The Duke.

5 CAPs to Andy Panthro

  • Where Did They Come From? Award - 5 CAPs for wondering about the strange logic of the army of tentacles in the future.

5 CAPs to Ross

  • Clone Award - 5 CAPs for correctly a technical mistake I made regarding clones.

5 CAPs to Rowan Lipkovits

  • Did you Mean the French Revolutionary War? Award - 5 CAPs for pointing out I mixed up the Revolutionary War with the Civil War.


  1. Let us put our hopes on Riven being the one getting a 10 in puzzles, then.

    1. I'm looking forward to Riven. I haven't played any of the "Myst" series so I'll being going into them with open eyes and an open heart. We could very well end up in a situation though where no one game manages a 10 for puzzles. Personally, I can't think of a game that is objectively free of demerit in this category (though, to my earlier point, I haven't played Riven ;))

    2. Riven isn't perfect either, at least one hint I consider unnecessarily vague (uggcf://jjj.erqqvg.pbz/e/zlfg/pbzzragf/7gruen/pbzzrag/qgoj7ub/?hgz_fbhepr=funer&hgz_zrqvhz=jro2k&pbagrkg=3) leading to some brute-forcing in my first playthrough, and, like in Day of the Tentacle, lbh unir gb fbzrgvzrf pybfr qbbef.

    3. Plus, fiddling with machinery isn't as compelling of a premise as changing something in an era to affect future eras.

    4. Isn't Obsidian supposed to be in a good position to get that too? IIRC, it was made by some sort of serious puzzle maker.

      That said, I was surprised when reading ROTT comments after finishing it that you said the doctor's headband was what made you think it wasn't perfect. My thought was never about whether or not it was made of glass, just that it was reflective since it was probably metal or something.

  2. ARGH. Blogspot is telling me the comment is too long, so I'm going to have to break it up.

  3. Phew! I've been holding on to this for more than a month. Funny to see you and I gave almost the exact same score.

    Puzzles and Solvability: The puzzle structure is clever, with actions taken in the past affecting the future (like the kumquat tree). A few were quite satisfying. But mostly it was just good, not OMG-great. And there were some cases where I felt I'd been led to try solving a puzzle backwards, because I'd found an object first and was wandering around time and space trying to figure out what it might be useful for, rather than having some clear problem and trying to work out how to use my objects to deal with it. For example, the white-out: I spent a lot of time hearing "I don't think that would look better white" and trying to find an object that *did* need to be painted white. That was misleading in itself. Then, when I caved in and looked up what to do with it, I painted a cat like a skunk. Great, fine. I get that as a cartoon gag (see Warner Bros.). But why? What did I need a fake skunk for? You get the idea. I don't think any of the solutions struck me as illogical exactly (making allowances for game/cartoon logic) - I didn't go "oh come on" after I heard what they were - but see above about misleading feedback from the game in some cases. (8, same as Morpheus)

    Interface and Inventory: I played the remastered version, so this might not apply to the original. I found both the verb bar interface and the "dial" interface rather flexible and amenable to a combination of hotkeys and mouse clicks. I wound up switching to the dial not far into the game and stuck with that, because it automatically eliminates certain verbs. Verb bar purists probably don't like that, but I find it a time- and thought-saver. Something that annoys me about this remaster as well as Double Fine's Full Throttle, though, is that the object highlighting is way too broad. Useful if you are in doubt about whether something is just background (I occasionally was in FT; not so here), but sometimes such an object actually has multiple sub-hotspots on it that do different things, and it's not useful at all for that. Inventory is fine, standard icons, scrolls when you have more than two rows' worth. (9, 1 more than Morpheus)

    1. >But why? What did I need a fake skunk for?

      There's a glaring hint for that (the eureka moment by Day9TV is particularly satisfying to watch), but to be fair I don't think the hint is repeated.

    2. I think I only encountered the hint after I had taken the action.

    3. I know we had a chat about backward puzzles on one of the playthrough posts, but I was recently reminded of an entire backward *solution* I encountered in the game which brought back repressed memories of my struggles through Blue Force... After finding the left handed hammer, I did my usual search of the mansion, finding the brothers chipping away at their sculpture. Not knowing why other than "well, this is obviously where I use the hammer", I swapped it over and the statue broke.

      Many play sessions later I pushed Nurse Edna out of the monitoring room (her sliding around on the chair inspired the solution to getting her out of there) and thought nothing of it. It was only when listening to a podcast later that I was highlighted to the fact that by switching the handedness of the statue, I cleared Edna's path of egress.

      In hindsight, this was a really clever puzzle, but by solving it before I knew it existed, it turned into a cheap interface puzzle (which have become a little bugbear of mine) and something I otherwise thought was completely irrelevant and inconsequential.

      A way to avoid this would have been to have the brothers preparing to sculpt the statue (so you could still interact with them) until the player tried unsuccessfully to push Edna out of the room in the future. This would have given the writers a great opportunity to flash back to the past and use a Star Wars "I felt a great disturbance in the force" joke, before deciding it's a sign they need to get to work, opening the hammer puzzle as stepped solution.

      Anyway, I may have (channelling a message I managed to prompt in Sierra games all too often) "tried something they didn't think of"...

    4. Not an ideal solution, because it's much of an arbitrary event flag (I've suffered enough of those in my current replay of Gabriel Knight 2) and the game otherwise has a strong causality between player actions and goals. But hey, the lesser of two evils I guess. Some vague hint could justify it, like with the dirty wagon.

      Thinking about it, the other significant backwards puzzle - getting the vacuum cleaner into the basement - could be improved by putting the vacuum cleaner ad into the future basement instead. Just somewhere on the floor or such; making it available after the hamster runs into the mousehole is IMO overkill.

      (I don't consider getting the stamps and fake skunk ahead of time much more of as backwards puzzles than sneaking into the kitchen to get the pot in Monkey Island 1 before you know you need a helmet; you don't directly affect potentially unencountered things in them. The player should be allowed *some* experimentation and achievement without explicit purpose, otherwise things get too railroaded.)

    5. Agree on the GK2 front. Where it fails is that it expects you to randomly stumble upon events which trigger progression. In this case, getting Edna out of the room is a logical evolution to the "monitoring the safe combination" puzzle... so you wouldn't arbitrarily trigger the event, but rather do so as part of the puzzle arc.

      Incidentally, if I were to rate GK2 for puzzles, it would be a 3. And the only reason it isn't a 2 is on account of a certain dictaphone puzzle.

    6. Interesting, I don't think I ever made the connection between future Edison hating skunks and turning the cat into one despite having seen Pepe le Pew cartoons, but once I actually put the white out on the cat it was eureka. Even if someone isn't screaming from the rooftops that they hate skunks, they're not going to be cuddling one when they see it. Possibly just me living in an area where enough skunks get run over that a live one is something I don't want to have a close encounter with.

      I'm curious, how does the verb bar deal with situations like Edna where the answer might not be the only reasonable action to take?

    7. With respect to GK2, a lot of games of this era seem to have a serious issue at the fundamental design level where they want to simulate a dynamic game world - one where things are going on in the background independent of the player - but haven't got a good sense of how to do it. At this particular point in time, they seem to have realized that an actual real-time game world would be a disaster for this kind of game (I know I've encountered adventure games that did try a proper "NPCs move around in real time and you can just outright miss key things, softlocking yourself trivially and constantly", and while some of them might be otherwise good, I've never found that particular element to add to the experience), so they sort of fake it in the form of having random disconnected player actions trigger an advance in the global world state. Which makes a kind of logical sense; it's like time only progresses when the player not only takes action, but takes USEFUL action. But it makes the gameworld seem arbitrary and disconnected because it creates a non-diagetic cause-and-effect which is very visible to the player, while insisting there isn't a diagetic cause-and-effect. It's disconcerting to the player because he's simultaneously being told two opposite things: that the game world is an intricate puzzle box that responds only to their manipulation, and also that the game world is an autonomous object which does things on its own, where their actions have consequences not connected to them.

      It feels to me like Sierra's FMV games are the peak of this design issue, but I don't know if that's a coincidence of history, or something about FMV. My guess is that it's an indirect consequence - not that FMV calls for this sort of thing, but because the economics of FMV imposed other limits, this issue became more visible. Like, FMV games have to be stingy about changes to the world-state that would affect the FMV clips. A traditional adventure game could say "Coincidentally, as you search the medicine cabinet, you notice that the sun is setting outside. It gets darker and the obstructive clerk at the front desk clocks out in favor of the friendlier night clerk" - an FMV game is more likely to just replace one clerk with the other and avoid, say, darkening all the windows to indicate that it's night now, or replacing the empty dining room with a dinner crowd.

  4. Story and Setting: Story's pretty standard: evil dude wants to take over the world and you have to stop him. Setting is obviously a zany take on the three time zones with only a compact area available in each (I can see why they did this, but it means there's not a lot to sightsee). It's fine, it's just kind of... there? I didn't really get invested in any of the characters even given that this is comedy and not drama (cf. Monkey Island - I care about people and their backstories there, despite the silliness). (7, 2 more than Morpheus)

    Sound and Graphics: The aesthetics are what they are; not really my cuppa but very "period" for this time in the 90s (see also Leisure Suit Larry 5/6, for instance). The original graphics and sound were impressive for their time (I remember seeing the game briefly on a friend's computer in high school, but never played it then). The slightly different takes on the music that plays when you switch characters is interesting. Mostly I didn't take much notice of the music, even though it's Michael Z. Land. (7, same as Morpheus)

    Environment and Atmosphere: I don't have any attachment to the "mythos" of Maniac Mansion (I've still never played it), but I think DotT might have lost something about the mood in going for a soft wacky cartoon version of things. But given that it did, the humor is... fine I guess? I chuckled some, but I'm not sure I ever laughed out loud. Some of the running gags across the time zones are fun, though. (6, 1 less than Morpheus)

    Dialogue and Acting: Voice acting - I can see why people get annoyed by Laverne's voice, but she didn't bother me. Everyone that matters is distinctive and acted pretty well. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to unhear Purple Tentacle as Murray now that I'm familiar with Murray, as I wasn't the first time I played DotT. (Denny Delk is both Green and Purple as well as Hoagie, George Washington, and Doctor Tentacle.) Hoagie has some fun distinctive choices. Got annoyed a couple of times when I was forced to end a conversation rather than being able to jump back up a level to the previous tree and continue down another branch. If you're going to write and record a bunch of dialogue, make it easy for me to see. (8, same as Morpheus)

    8+9+7+7+6+8 = 45 / 0.6 = 73

    So I guess the only place we really differed much was Story and Setting, and I liked it more which is, of course, very subjective.

    1. While I don't necessarily care for the mythos of Maniac Mansion, personally I care a lot for the mechanics of MM, i.e. the characters having different abilities and the cooperation puzzles where char 1 has to do something WHILE char 2 does something else.

      Personally I find it a letdown that DOTT doesn't use these mechanics. As MK points out in DOTT, "there's no reason why there really needed to be multiple characters."

  5. Whoops. For "but see above about misleading feedback from the game in some cases" in Puzzles and Solvability, I guess make that "see previous comments." I had this all written down in a text file, and had carved some bits out to make comments earlier, so in that sense it was "above".

  6. Regarding the puzzles, if I have one "problem" with this game it's very easy to accidentally hit upon solutions before you really knew there was a puzzle, or what part of a puzzle chain the solution was for.
    Like the thing with Edna: if you gave the decaf to Dr. Fred first and he 'sleepwalks' into his office, if you went into Edna's surveillance room, Bernhard would eventually comment that he needs to get Edna out of the room before he can watch the monitors (because she won't let him). If you push her but haven't done anything about the statue in the room yet, then she grapes the outstretched arm and immediately bounces back. Then the entire puzzle chain makes sense.
    But what usually happens is, as soon as you get control of Hoagie, you start wandering around in the past, you find the left handed hammer, you find another hammer, you try and see what happens if you switched those hammers - and suddenly you've resolved the final part of a puzzle chain you didn't even knew existed.
    Similar can be said about why you would try to give the cat a white stripe (unless you've exhausted every dialog option with elder future Edison and talked to him after already getting rid of the guard, that's when he emphasizes that he hates skunks), or the Invisible Ink on Stamp collection thing (most people, myself included, Did it just to see what would happen, not because they count on getting a stamp out of it).
    I like the game and it's humor, but if I had to pinpoint a weak spot, this would be it IMO.

    1. But what usually happens is, as soon as you get control of Hoagie, you start wandering around in the past, you find the left handed hammer, you find another hammer, you try and see what happens if you switched those hammers - and suddenly you've resolved the final part of a puzzle chain you didn't even knew existed.

      Yup. Switching the hammers and causing this statue to change "handedness" was an action I remembered needing to take, but I couldn't remember why. So I got the statue switched, but had no idea exactly how that was supposed to help me. I had to look up "push Edna" in a walkthrough. Although she was obviously an obstacle, usually in adventure games I think "I have to induce this person to go away somehow through trickery" -- like getting something to happen offscreen that might lure her away -- and physically shoving them doesn't really occur to me as something to try!
      The presence of the Push/Pull verbs in LucasArts games is kind of annoying in this respect, I think? Mostly they do nothing special so you tend to get a kind of blind spot for them unless you're reduced to "try every verb on every object". At least, I do.

    2. Hah, just made a comment about this very "backward solution" inline with Lisa's review - I guess I wasn't the only one then!

  7. Seriously? I thought this probably wouldn't be as well rated as I regard it, but a lower score than Conquest of the Longbow? You really need to rethink this one.

    Every post I just saw bias against the fact it's a comedy, and your criticisms of the humour, cartoon voices, setting, everything flow from that. If it's not your kind of game, why review it? It's like you were determined not to like it because it's so popular.

    1. FWIW, I knocked out a quick rating of Conquests of the Longbow based on my memory of the last time I played (a few years ago), and I would rate DotT lower than it, too. DotT scores higher on Puzzles and Solvability (Longbow is sometimes pretty obscure and the copy-protection puzzles, oy) and they are about the same to me for Interface and Inventory and Dialogue and Acting. But IMO Longbow absolutely kills it in Story and Setting, Sound and Graphics, and Environment and Atmosphere, whereas DotT is merely quite good.

    2. One thing I disagree about the score is lower Puzzles & Solvability than Fate of Atlantis. OTOH it's also the fault of TBD who was seemingly so into it that he overlooked problems such as mazes (bizarrely claiming there weren't any) and repetitive tasks. Although maybe those become more apparent when replaying, as you already know the solution but have to anyway repeatedly narrow down some information.

      The art style of DotT is also extremely iconic, and better executed than that of something like Return to Monkey Island (layouts feel more balanced and lead your eye better). So, I would've been more generous in Sound & Graphics too.

    3. To be fair, I prefer Conquests of the Longbow too. In particular... the branching, consequential nature of the puzzles allowing you to do (or not do) something to influence the ultimate outcome. It was also far more charming and rich as a story (albeit, based on an established one), but they played the lore out very well and I genuinely felt like I was Robin leading a band of Merry Men.

    4. While I think its reasonable to have an expectation of a higher rating and even like it more than me, I think you're focusing on the wrong things. Say I do hate it and have bias against it. It got a 72. Think about that a second. Somebody who hates the game gives it a 72. On a system where that's 97th or so percentile now, and by the time any game has a serious chance of knocking it off it'll be 99th percentile. By that time I suspect we'll have a our highly rated games post somewhere.

      But that said, I liked the comedy, in fact I liked the comedy a lot. I just didn't necessary hold the voices in high regard. I liked the main characters voices. I'm going to get to the specific criticisms later on, but a 7 in environment is nothing to sneeze at. If I really had a bias against the game I would give it a lot worse rating, but without changing the rating I could say something that would absolutely crap on every single person who loved this game.

  8. I'm obviously at risk of coming across as a rabid fanboy here, but I kinda think there is a reason why this game is consistently considered one of the best of all time across the history of adventure gaming and a wide range of sites, and conquests is largely forgotten. I also think it's a bit telling when the reviewer's score was a full five points lower than the lowest guess.

    I can't really see any legitimate criticism of the puzzles here. The reviewer got stuck on a couple by using the wrong verb and dwells on that for half the puzzles score and lengthy expositions in the relevant posts, and skims over so many very, very good ones. I don't feel as though those verb issues the reviewer had were particularly the fault of the game. Fate of Atlantis got a 9 despite having some pretty horrible bits (the Atlantis Maze for example).

    I do agree it's fair to give Conquests a strong score for story and environment, but a DoTT 7 for graphics and an 8 for interface? Conquests got an 8 for graphics and Monkey Island got a 9 for a functionally identical interface. The graphics and sound in DoTT are objectively some of the best of any adventure game to its date of release - again, the only real 'criticism' I'm seeing is 'I don't care for the cartoony style'.

    So I'm definitely with Luukku that I would have been more generous with puzzles and sound/graphics.

    Similarly with the environment and story score, it seems the main criticism is 'I don't like the premise of one house across three time periods and the cartoony vibe'. Thing is, that's the whole premise of the game - the 'limited' nature of the environment is integral to the premise of the game and in my opinion is a strength allowing you to create the time-travel puzzles where an action in the past affects the future (the cherry tree, Edna, the flag, etc. etc.). It's like reviewing Monkey Island and then criticising it because you don't like games about pirates.

    Ok, I've said my piece. I have been following (although mostly lurking) on this blog for years, and generally I've more-or-less agreed with the scores on just about everything (the odd point here or there, obviously, but they seem pretty fair). But this one seems so off base compared to the overwhelming consensus about the game from 30 years of history, and the reviewer just seemed so determined not to like the game from the start, that I don't think it's a fair score.

    1. I can see where the criticism of the UI is coming from, regarding the inventory cursors and mishandling the mattress puzzle - the latter of which I regard as an interface issue rather than a puzzle issue. I personally wasn't bothered, but the experience isn't necessarily quite as smooth for others as in other LucasArts games.

    2. A legitimate criticism of the puzzles here is the places where DOTT relies on trying every object on every hotspot and then something happens to work, instead of seeing a problem and thinking about how to solve it. The latter is just more satisfying. YMMV as to how big a problem this is, but it is clearly legitimate.

      I do agree with you that DOTT should rate above Longbow, but in my opinion the DOTT's rating as stated here is fine, and the rate for Longbow is too high; I find Longbow a good game but not a great one. Then again, YMMV.

    3. Almost everything in DotT has a hint or is otherwise deducible, although sometimes relying on real-world knowledge. Even the horse with the dentures has the glass to put them in when going to sleep, and most NPCs comment how *sleep-inducingly* boring the book is. The only truly unfair puzzle IMO is the keys behind the door.

    4. I find Longbow very slightly underrated actually, would've given 1 more in puzzles (more games should learn from its multiple solutions and degrees of failure vs. success).

    5. I kinda think there is a reason why this game is consistently considered one of the best of all time across the history of adventure gaming and a wide range of sites, and conquests is largely forgotten.
      Adventure games tend to have popularity somewhat based on nostalgia, and Conquests never did really well at the time for whatever reason. Add into the fact that most people really don't like the slightest possibility of being put into a dead end and how Lucasarts games seem to be people's only exposure to the genre outside of dedicated communities. (which, incidentally, all like the Conquests games on some level)
      Also, why dwell on Longbow and not the Sherlock game or KGB? The Conquests games very much have a fond reputation on the wider (adventure) internet, whereas the other two tend to be obscure or not as fondly liked outside of this site?

      I also think it's a bit telling when the reviewer's score was a full five points lower than the lowest guess.
      I gave it a 60?

      That said, I think that, yes, you're being a fanboy in the case of glossing over the puzzles problems. I did not just have problems with "the wrong verb". That didn't really factor into my final score negatively or positively. I don't see the crowbar as a verb problem. Or heck, something I didn't mention, capturing the chattering teeth isn't a verb problem either.
      Now while its true that I didn't go over the good ones, here's the thing, this is Day of the Tentacle, everyone more or less has played it. Do you really need me to go over the great puzzles? Talking about the cherry tree, the steps to getting the gold quill outside of George's teeth or getting Dr. Fred out of the attic?

      The graphics and sound in DoTT are objectively some of the best of any adventure game to its date of release - again, the only real 'criticism' I'm seeing is 'I don't care for the cartoony style'.
      Objectively is a strong word for a game whose music is uninteresting. None of it has stuck with me for very long outside of maybe the little stings the three characters get and the intro piece. For a game to get a higher score than I gave it, it has to be memorable in the music department. There are many other games that manage to do that at this time, so I don't think DotT has any excuse.
      Further, I do like cartoons, even cartoony games. The PSX-era Looney Tunes games are all very good, even the ones I didn't play back in the day. (seriously, play Sheep Raider if you have the time) Even down to the visuals. Besides, you're ignoring that the criticism I made was towards the backgrounds. Which is something more noticeable in a game where you spend considerable time on each screen, looking at it compared to Tom & Jerry, where you won't.
      (the screen resolution thing isn't a criticism specific to this game either, I really like Dave Gibbons art and I'd apply the same low resolution criticism to Beneath a Steel Sky were I to play that too)

      'I don't like the premise of one house across three time periods and the cartoony vibe'.
      The thing is, I genuinely feel like the game is missing a sense of discovery, and that's the most obvious culprit to me. The first part, as I said I don't hate cartoons as much as I'm not sure I like the one DotT gives out. Its not like an old-timey Hanna Barbara cartoon with a budget, adjusted for inflation, of $65.58.

      Also, the UI thing, I do not consider this to be as smooth an experience as other Lucasarts games, despite the very excellent midi volume setting.

    6. Conquests because it's the lowest game it's ranked below, but Sherlock Holmes applies as well. Not saying I disagree either of those are good games (I never played Conquests back in the day and only found it because this site rated it so well, so I agree it's good). I just think DoTT is a class above. Obviously we have to agree to differ.

      I really don't think the mattress puzzle is as bad as you're making out. Now to be fair, it's 30 years since I first played this game so memory may well be fallible, but I don't remember having any problem with it (and yes, I still can remember struggling with egregiously horrible puzzles from other games a long time ago. The opening of Space Quest 3 where you have to somehow work out that you need, and then find, an item that is not visible anywhere on screen still haunts me...). It seems pretty logical to me - you need the toy from the cat, therefore need to distract the cat. Mattress distracts cat, but not for long enough. Can we maniuplate the mattress? It follows to me, but obviously you're not alone in disliking that one.

      [i]The thing is, I genuinely feel like the game is missing a sense of discovery, and that's the most obvious culprit to me.[/i]

      This one I do have to object to. The House setup is baked into the very premise of the game. It's not a game about exploration and discovery - if you want that, play Fate of Atlantis, or Longest Journey. It's a game that's about the same location in different times. Ok if you prefer a different premise, but I don't think it's fair to criticise a game for not being something it never claimed to be.

    7. On a similar note, most of the Chzo Mythos games each take place over several days in a constrained location (5 Days a Stranger incidentally in a mansion), a premise they exploit well for horror purposes.

    8. I guess you're the lucky one, because it seems to be that that puzzle is pretty roundly the one people seem to dislike from the game.

      This one I do have to object to. The House setup is baked into the very premise of the game. It's not a game about exploration and discovery - if you want that, play Fate of Atlantis, or Longest Journey. It's a game that's about the same location in different times. Ok if you prefer a different premise, but I don't think it's fair to criticise a game for not being something it never claimed to be.
      (protip, use the greater than and less than signs, wish there was some crap that explained how to properly do formating on Blogger)
      The thing is, I view some sense of discovery as integral to an adventure game. Its possible to do that without necessarily putting in exploration. Like, let's take those Chzo Mythos games, there are a small handful of rooms unavailable to you at the start, but I didn't get that same lacking feeling there. (note, I'm not saying they're better games in any other respect) You gradually uncover a mystery in that location, replacing what has been lost. To replace that sense of discovery this game doesn't feel like it has much. Perhaps the future to a small degree and the situation with the IRS, but there wasn't enough of it.

  9. I think it's a fair score. I didn't get on with this game, both the environments and humour were kind of stale to me. The world felt closed in and boxy, the story inconsequential, and the puzzles obscure. Not so much the solutions, which were fine, but I felt like the game generally didn't do a great job of communicating what *were* puzzles.

    I could establish problems on individual screens, and what passed for a plot gave me overall goals, but an adventure game designer has a crucial job to make these ends meet - to communicate to the player why individual actions service the greater objective. The game didn't do enough for me, here - it really felt like a grognard's adventure game, made for veterans who had already been around the block countless times.

    This all sounds quite critical but it's because I'm focusing on what I thought were its flaws. The game is clearly a quality product that is fondly remembered by almost everyone who played it. So, yes, a place in the top ten but not at the top of it doesn't seem off to me.

  10. With regard to scoring, it is of course worth remembering that we have a group of different reviewers, we all have our own tastes and preferences, and everyone has been doing this for a number of years at this point.

    There are games for which I would certainly have given higher ratings, and others that I'd give lower ratings, but for me the number in this instance is not really important. This will be up in the top 10 games probably for quite some time now and isn't that going to be a testament to it's quality?

    It's been entertaining to read this playthrough for me, I played this game so long ago now I could almost remember nothing about it, but given I think I only played it once and could still remember a couple of the puzzles, means it still managed to leave it's mark.

  11. I've never been the biggest fan of Lucasarts method of taking up half the screen's real estate with buttons, but that's just a personal issue, and it works fine.

    That has always been one of my biggest gripes as well. I always felt cheated out of screenfuls of artwork.

    That all said, while I think this rating is lower than it should be, it is below Fate, which is a superior game, but other reviewers might have rated this one closer to that. It's a tough call. I don't think this was the right pairing of game to reviewer, but it only cost the game a couple of points. Not a whole letter grade, the way some people seem to think.

    1. Perhaps, but I think it didn't cost the game any points because of specific biases against the content as much as personal observations that other reviewers might not make. Other reviewers might be more generous towards sound and graphics since they might think memorability of music is less important than I. They also might be more generous towards the backgrounds and less impressed by the animation.

    2. Fair comments. I think we established above that I'd weight the animation and voices far higher than you would :)

    3. I for one am glad we got a review from someone who went in "blind", and I think it did much more good than harm. I have read plenty of rave reviews for the game yet the time I tried it and the playthroughs I have seen never WOWed me, mostly because the game world simply didn't feel too interesting or drew me in in any way. I can see that it was groundbreaking and definitely a great game, but also it may not be as universally loved as many people believe.

      @bigfluffylemon you do however have my sympathy, it is HARD watching someone pick out flaws in a game you seriously love, I went through the same experience when CRPG addict tried Star Control 2, but in the end I had to concede most of his points as valid. It also made me take a more objective look at the game I have always felt was the greatest I ever played (Baldur's Gate 2 SOA) and while I still have it at the top of my list I am more prepared for the day a reviewer I respect gets to it and starts picking out its many flaws.

  12. Hey, I just want to say a big thank you to Morpheus on behalf of the community - taking on a game of such repute and fan adoration was always going to be a tricky one... and you can't please everyone. I for one really liked the game but didn't *love* it so would have been disappointed (but not angry) if it scored more than games that I personally think are better.

    My own scores were:

    Puzzles: 8 (=). -1 for Single solutions. -1 for Backward puzzles.
    Interface: 8 (=). -1 for Unnecessary verbs. -1 Interface got in the way of some puzzles (for me).
    Story: 7 (+2). I thought it was a pretty good time travel tale. American history didn't resonate though as an Aussie.
    Sound/GFX: 8 (+1) - That's 5/5 for graphics and 3/5 for sound. I think it looks magnificent and holds up against today's pixel aesthetic, but whilst the sound and music were nice, like Morpheus, I can't recall a single tune other than the opening ditty.
    Environment: 7 (=). Yep, good vibes, but I never wanted to "escape" to DOTT.
    Dialogue: 9 (+1). Generally excellent, though a few of the main voices annoyed me. Gabriel Knight is a 10 here for me, and this isn't there, but not far off.

    PISSED: 78 (+6)

    So yeah, I would have had it leapfrogging Longbow (which I should try scoring actually) and Sherlock Holmes, but still behind the Monkey Islands and Fate of Atlantis. I guessed 81, but not because that's where I think it deserved to sit, but rather where I thought bias (nostalgic and/or popular) would push it.

    In the end it slots into, what, 6th place, and is likely to finish in the top 10 adventure games of all time, so I really don't think that is anything to sneeze at.

    1. ....achoo.

      (well, you asked for it.)

    2. Just knocked out my score for Conquests of the Longbow and got:

      Puzzles: 7
      Interface: 8
      Story: 8
      Sound and Graphics: 8 (4 and 4 respectively)
      Atmosphere: 9
      Dialog: 7

      PISSED: 78. Which is exactly what I scored DOTT.

    3. Hypothetically, an Adventure Game Database with user-submitted PISSED ratings would be an interesting idea. With features such as sorting by customly weighted averages if you consider e.g. puzzles of different importance than story.

    4. Actually, that would be awesome!

    5. Looking at the games still to come, I know this is probably a bit early to speculate, but what else do you see muscling into the top 10?

      Notable games that jump off the spreadsheet for me include Sam and Max, QfG4, the Gabriel Knights, the Kyrandias, the Tex Murphys, Cosmology of Kyoto, Full Throttle, I have no mouth [...], the Phantasmagorias, The 11th Hour*, The Dig, The Neverhood, Toonstruck, Bladerunner, the Broken Swords, The Last Express, Riven, Realms of the Haunting, Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Discworld Noir, and the Longest Journey.

      That's quite the list of potential entrants, especially considering that I stopped at the turn of the millennium. That's when I largely drifted away from the genre (Ace Attorney games notwithstanding, which sadly seem to have been overlooked).

      * just kidding :P

    6. You're right, an argument could be made for any of those games to supplant any of the bottom half of the top 10 right now... my *personal* view is that only Gabriel Knight 1, Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango are better games (while I love QFG4, on balance I don't think it will achieve as high a PISSED score as DOTT). Riven is an unknown quantity as I haven't played it, but even if that is incredible, it would still see DOTT slot into my position 10.

      Hrm.... You know, it could be touch and go!

    7. Sam & Max, Grim Fandango and the Tex Murphys I predict as too inconsistent to score particularly high; too many problems with interface, puzzles and such. The Last Express also is too experimental for its own good, as I remember the vague goals dead-ending me big time in the real-time system; I also disliked the lack of subtitles combined with thick foreign accents. Blade Runner I found monotonous. The Dig I like but the widespread criticism of its puzzles may turn out to be shared by its reviewer.

      Myst is a good candidate for our current top 10 but might not remain there long. Ditto with Kyrandia 2 (and I regard the 3rd Kyrandia as the worst in the series).

      Of the established (in Western adventuring circles) all-time classics, PISSED will likely treat the best Gabriel Knight 1, Broken Sword 1, Beneath a Steel Sky, Ace Attorney 1 (I haven't experienced the remaining series yet but trust they're good) and Monkey Island 3 (even though it has the shallowest story in the series). The Longest Journey probably too, even if I think it kinda falls apart in the last third or so (but I still find its storytelling more coherent than Grim Fandango's). Quest for Glory 4 may remain for quite a while in the lower half of top 10. Riven is also a strong contender, even if its main attractions are its puzzles and graphics, and while competent in other areas too others do them better.

      Some potential dark horses are Death Gate, YU-NO and Blackwell Epiphany. YU-NO has a lot of impressive qualities but how it fares here will depend on how allergic the reviewer is to clicking on everything to continue (it otherwise has a VERY cool and unique core gameplay mechanic) and eroge tropes. Death Gate is very polished but may not necessarily win the reviewer's heart. Blackwell Epiphany is thoroughly excellent, save for merely OK-to-goodish music, but will take ages to reach.

      Some gaps in my adventure gaming include I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Little Big Adventure series, The Neverhood, Toonstruck, David Cage's games other than Fahrenheit, Ace Attorneys beyond the first one... so I can't really speculate about them.

    8. Interesting, we've been so focused on the cartoon vibe that we've sort of ignored people who might dislike the American history aspect. Germans must hate the game. ;p

      Regarding other potential titles. Realms of the Haunting might prove to be interesting. Its a FPS/adventure hybrid, but its controls are unusual, so are many aspects, and one part of it is really bad. It really depends on what the reviewer, because opinions are mixed. (I'll probably be playing along on my own blog, so I won't be the reviewer here) YU-NO will probably be me though, and at the very least I like the look of the game from the screenshots that are constantly bandied about as examples of high quality pixel art.
      In the near future, it strikes me that Dreamweb, Hell and Noctropolis all have a shot at reaching the top ten, if only for a moment, and '96 has a lot of interesting games.

    9. Grim Fandango would easily be in my personal top 3, but for reviewing it here I think the UI issues will end up as a huge strike against the game, and the obtuse nature of some of the puzzles won't help either. If DoTT and Monkey Island can only achieve an 8 for puzzles, I can't see GF ranking more than a 7, maybe even lower.

      Agree with Laukku that Sam and Max is probably too offbeat and inconsistent.

      I also think Gabriel Knight might not do so well - the dead ending and obtuse puzzles and I don't think the graphics and music are particularly great for its era. But a lot of people love it for its admittedly great atmosphere and story. I'd also knock a whole point off the acting for Tim Currie's dreadful accent, but that's a personal pet peeve.

      I think PISSED will treat Broken Sword and Curse of Monkey Island very well. I'll be very surprised if those two don't end up in the top 10 (Curse's rushed end both story and puzzles is its only major weakness IMO).

      If nothing else, this review goes to show that reasonable minds differ even on the best of the best :)

    10. Some gaps in my adventure gaming include I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Little Big Adventure series, The Neverhood, Toonstruck, David Cage's games other than Fahrenheit, Ace Attorneys beyond the first one... so I can't really speculate about them.

      It probably comes as no surprise given my avatar that the LBA games are up there in my top 5 of all time. I've also played through 4 of the Ace Attorney games on DS and have thoroughly enjoyed their ability to pass the time on a long plane trip or boring holiday. I don't think the PISSED system will be kind to either of them though - LBA is shallow in the puzzle department and has a divisive interface (which I personally love, but still find frustration in) despite its 12/10 charm , and I see Ace Attorney as more an interactive novel with inconsistent puzzle elements and a fantastical, anime story style that I tolerate rather than enjoy.

      Beneath a Steel Sky is one that I haven't afforded enough time to in the past. I've tried to start it a few times now and haven't found myself engaged enough to get back to it... thanks to this community I may finally get my chance to experience it in full.

    11. ThatSpanishAnonymousWhoLovesCoktelVision12 March 2023 at 09:34

      Wait a second, let me address the 2 elephants in the room for a second...

      KGB was in the top 10?

      Someone just called Gabriel Knight music "not great for its era"?

    12. Grim Fandango is going to be an interesting one (of course that's, what, 1998? so it's quite a ways away). Seems like the categories of rating could be all over the place. Like Environment and Atmosphere, great. Interface and Inventory... not so much.

    13. Games like Grim Fandango, Discworld Noir, and The Longest Journey are definitely going to score high in the atmosphere, setting, and dialog departments, but perhaps at the expense of other categories. I honestly can't think of any game that has a legitimate chance at a much higher score. Games like Myst, that I personally would score low, will nonetheless lose points because they lack things like dialog and character interactions. The scoring system is made for third-person adventures, primarily.

    14. Myst contains FMV acting, that qualifies as content for the category for me. The acting is not necessarily amazing but still something I take more seriously than those of many early talkies.

    15. Toonstruck might be a bit of a surprise. I enjoyed it more than I expected to given its reputation. But whoever plays that is going to need a strong stomach for cartoon wackiness, because it outstrips DotT by a large margin.

      PISSED probably is going to treat Curse of Monkey Island very well. I ran some quick numbers and it cracked a score of 90 for me.

    16. I think Myst's rating depends on how much the reviewer likes the setting and atmosphere of the game.

      Myst contains FMV acting, that qualifies as content for the category for me. The acting is not necessarily amazing but still something I take more seriously than those of many early talkies.
      I think the acting in Myst is better than its given credit for, but yeah, there's a limited amount of it.

    17. @CoktelAnon, KGB still is. The bar on the left, below the active reviewer scoreboard, has the current top 10, well, as of one game ago.

    18. Riven's worldbuilding is more praised than Myst's but despite its intricacy I found it drier than Myst.

    19. @Lisa - Well I'll be. I just ran the numbers for Curse which I played through about 6 months ago and got 90 too on a 9/9/9/9/8/10. Whilst it may not be my favourite game... it looks like it may objectively be what I consider the best, at least of the 90s. Huh!

    20. Each reviewer might have a very different stance on this. For example, I've never been a big fan of coin interfaces, especially when it dumbs down the choices to three icons. So, everything gets USEd rather than having to think much about it. On the plus side, Murray the talking skull was a genius character addition, so much so that he was retconned into the new game, even though Ron had indicated that the new game was after #2.

    21. @CoktelAnon Someone just called Gabriel Knight music "not great for its era"?

      A clear example of the subjectivity of artistic tastes. I still think it goes down as one of the best directed, performed and thematically apt game soundtracks not just of its era, but of all time. I'd probably give Monkey Island 2 the nod as the greatest "classic" gaming soundtrack on account of the trump card that was iMuse, but not until the arrival of the "Zimmerfied" era of game soundtracks (ala Skyrim) was anything as epic. Those pizzicato strings still give me goosebumps!

    22. @PsOmA and @Michael Yeah mine was something like 9/8/9/10/10/10 (I didn't write it down and that actually comes out 1 point higher, because it was a raw score of 55, but you get the idea). I am fine with the coin interface generally and can tell I disagree with Michael about "dumbing down", but I got frustrated with the way that the mouth (parrot) did not solely mean "talk" and actually meant "use your mouth on/with"... which 99% of the time still is functionally "talk" (unless you're being silly using the parrot on everything looking for funny "wrong" responses), but not always, which meant I got blind to it as a potential puzzle solution. And I dinged it a bit in the story department what with that very rushed ending and lack of anything for Elaine to do. But it knocks half of the scores out of the park for me.

    23. @Lisa - yeah, I felt the interface in COMI was efficient rather than dumbed down, but it is the inconsistent application of the interface which grinds my gears for the reasons you stated. I do have my limits though, and find games which simply require you to click in the right spot not engaging enough, with the likes of Mortville Manor at the other extreme which should be banned at the next Geneva Convention...

    24. This comment has been removed by the author.

    25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    26. (Third attempt to reply, limiting subject to Curse)

      I wouldn't rate Curse's story particularly high; while it has its memorable moments (and I like the evocative background stories involving Blood Island) it's mostly a MacGuffin hunt for the uncursed ring and has a clumsy infodump near the end to retcon the previous game. I find the other games in the series to have more interesting themes and more nuance; even Secret has more of an arc for Guybrush with him getting into piracy and experiencing first love. Otherwise, yes, it's stellar. I do prefer the UIs of Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes 2 and especially Leisure Suit Larry 7 as far as point-and-clicks go - like Michael, I have reservations towards so few verbs - but it still works rather great.

    27. (I tried to discuss music too but putting many YouTube links probably triggered a spam filter)

    28. @Laukku Fair point about Curse's story, now I think about it. Maybe I'd drop another point or so there.
      The music is just fabulous. I am a sucker for a steel drum, of course, but even so. It's up against stiff competition from LCR and Escape, but Curse probably my favorite soundtrack out of all of them.

    29. Let's see if I can get through this time. I'm keeping it simpler with less links but the gist of the music part in my autodeleted post was that while GK1's soundtrack is indeed great, I'd put Nobuo Uematsu as the greatest video game composer:

    30. There's a reason we have a running joke in our house of shaking a fist at the heavens and saying "UEMATSUUUUU!" whenever we randomly get an unprompted earworm.

    31. That's the guy who wrote the FF6 soundtrack right? I don't think greatest composer applies. He certainly knows how to steal from the greatest though. Back when I first started listening to Triumvirat, the comments for the song The Burning Sword of Capua kept talking about he stole the song wholesale for some song off the FF6 soundtrack. I think if he stole a somewhat obscure song like that its not a one-off and you never know from where.

    32. >I don't think greatest composer applies.

      I put more weight on Stankin Garbage's opinion more than yours.

      I took a listen to The Burning Sword of Capua, and while there is an obvious similarity to Dancing Mad in terms of a handful of dissonant chords at the beginning, the latter takes things *much* further; stealing it "wholesale" is an exaggeration by musically illiterate. Classical composers didn't exist in a vacuum either, you can hear inspiration taken by comparing J. S. Bach and Jan Dismas Zelenka just as an example:

      Not only are Uematsu's pieces timelessly catchy, they contain astounding insight into the characters' emotions, sometimes with simultaneous opposing emotions as a paradox of sorts. Above was already an analysis of Tifa's theme but take a look of this analysis of Cyan's theme here:

      Also regarding Uematsu's ability to "make a song that is impressive from a theoretical standpoint, and translate that technicality to emotion", read the analysis of Locke's theme in the description of this video: (Parallel fifths are usually avoided by composers but Uematsu turns it into an effect here)

    33. The most similar part in Dancing Mad is 0:39-0:45, but even if the underlying chords are the same (I'm out of practice regarding aural transcription) the melody isn't, with Triumvirat's resolving *from* a note (C-Db-C-Bb) and Uematsu's *into* a note (A-Bb-C-Bb); they serve distinct musical functions, the former taking place during an antecedent (rising-of-tension phrase), evoking buildup, and the latter during a consequent (resolution phrase), emphasising finality.

    34. On the COMI Story: Remembering that it's story and setting, I broke that up into 2.5 and 5 respectively, and then rounded it up because I could have given the setting a 6. Such a fun and memorable world despite the relative generic nature of the story.

      On soundtracks: I was (possibly naively) limiting my scope to adventure game scores. I know the FF soundtracks are really highly regarded, and listening to a few you shared @Laukku, I get it... I just haven't played any of the FF games (I was a PC gamer first and foremost, with a wannabe bad-boy streak that threw me in the Sega camp in the 90s - right up until the Dreamcast). There are many cracking/memorable tunes from the era - Doom, Simcity 2000, Settlers, Wing Commander, heck, even Commander Keen 4-6, and I adore the music in the Sonic series on Mega Drive but composing for an adventure game requires a special kind of magic... it's akin to a developing a soundtrack for a movie, and I have no doubt that's why the FF7 soundtrack is considered so epic, because it captures and adds to the mood of the scene so seamlessly to the point where you hear the tune, you see the scene, and vice-versa. That's probably the bellwether for me.

      To that end, when I think adventure game masterpieces, I have a few that I can't fault: Monkey Island 2, Full Throttle, QFG4, COMI, Gabriel Knight and Grim Fandango. There are some "close but not quite there" entries in the form of Space Quest 3, Police Quest 3, Space Quest 4, Gabriel Knight 2, The rest of the QFG series and Sam and Max...

      It's a shame that Sound and Graphics only make up a combined 10 points combined of PISSED as we enter into the multimedia era, but it probably evens the playing field somewhat and rewards earlier entries which were able to build atmosphere and immersion without the aid of "modern" technology and big budgets.

    35. Oh, and I know it was inadvertent @Morpheus, but thanks for introducing me to Triumvirat... that's my kind of music.

      Incidentally, whenever I hear Erana's Peace from QFG1, I immediately think of Evie Part 2 by Stevie Wright. There's an identical chord progression there that I've only ever heard in these 2 songs!

    36. I think that kind of "it doesn't count because my guy is better and your guy is shit so it doesn't matter" attitude the message you quoted and seem to be displaying is a very distasteful attitude to have, even for something as unimportant as entertainment. But you do you.

    37. I hadn't played any Final Fantasies until 2011 (when I was 19). I had never heard of the composer before but my respect grew as I went through the first ten games in the series in order, even overriding my nostalgia for Michael Land.

      More related to adventure games, Ryu Umemoto provides also plenty of eargasms: (The climax starting at 1:43 is among the most emotionally intense sections I've heard in music)

      "All my compositions are in fact based on Zen. In some way or another my music mathematically adds up to a lucky number in Zen, while scale and key changes will go at the rising or decreasing angle of either a spiritual temple’s architecture or mountain of spiritual importance. I apply Zen to all things in my life, even my music." -Ryu Umemoto

      Nobuo Uematsu has scored a few adventure games too, but although Alpha and Will: The Death Trap II have great tunes, the soundtracks consists of too few tracks to really consider competitive.

    38. My earlier posts apparently came back, but I pretty much said what I wanted by now, so I deleted them due to redundancy.

    39. @PsOmA: Only 6/10 for Curse's setting? What made it lose that many points for you, if it's "such a fun and memorable world"? (Also, wow, 2.5 for story seems extremely low to me, even given its flaws. Or am I misunderstanding your numbers here?)

    40. Sorry @Lisa, I didn't explain myself very well there. Whenever there is a scoring category with multiple elements (e.g. "Sound and Graphics", or in this case "Story and Setting") I split the weighting 50/50 so Story is out of 5, Setting out of 5, combining for a total of 10. In this case, I scored Story 2.5/5 and Setting 5/5 and rounded it up rather than down. That's why I said I'm still OK with the 8 I gave for "Story and Setting" because whilst I agree the story itself is pretty average, I reckon the Setting is one of the greatest in gaming history.

    41. Ah, ok. I thought you were scoring each out of 10, adding and then dividing by two or something. Makes sense.

    42. Wow. I just finished my playthrough of Grim Fandango, and ran it through PISSED. I should state, I have always considered it in my top 10 (and that is based on playing through years 1-3 back upon release), but critiquing it through the eyes of the advgamer scoring system has blessed me with a new appreciation. As of right now, and fully appreciative of the fact that I have yet to play Riven, or Broken Sword, or, generally anything else outside of the Lucasarts and Sierra camp... it has shot to number 1. With a bullet.

      Masterpiece. It's going to be an exciting few years.

    43. @PsOmA - I'm always fascinated at people who enjoy Grim Fandango! I say this because it's a game that never worked for me on any level, be it gameplay or story or visuals or puzzle design; I genuinely don't enjoy it. Since so many people love it, I am always eager to get some insight into what I'm missing. So weirdly, yeah I'm also looking forward to when the site eventually gets to it.

    44. I'm also one of those baffled by Grim Fandango's popularity. I found the following bit from this review illuminating:

      "Vg fbhaqf yvxr n qrprag lnea sbe n CAP nqiragher, ohg gur jevgref pbafvfgragyl snvy gb znxr zr vairfgrq va gur wbhearl. Vs Znaal jnf gelvat gb svaq Zrpur orpnhfr ur fvzcyl jnagrq n trg-bhg-bs-wnvy serr pneq, gura V jbhyq or nyy sbe vg nf gung vf abg bayl eryngnoyr ohg cynlf gb gur snpg gung gurl qvqa’g qrirybc nalguvat orgjrra gur gjb punenpgref. Hasbeghangryl, gur znva qevir vf gur thvyg- bgure ACPf naq Znaal uvzfrys pbafvfgragyl thvyg gevc uvz bire Zrpur qrcnegvat naq trggvat ybfg, naq V pbhyqa’g sbe gur yvsr bs zr haqrefgnaq jul. Vg jnf yvxr gurl jrer gelvat gb chyy na Rqjneq Xrajnl, ohg abg chg nal bs gur tebhaqjbex va cynpr. Znaal qvqa’g gryy Zrpur gb qrcneg gur ohvyqvat, ur fvzcyl unq ure fgnl va uvf bssvpr juvyfg ur jrag njnl gb svther guvatf bhg- fur, BS URE BJA NPPBEQ, ena njnl, naq V’z fhccbfrq gb ohl gung vg’f Znahry’f snhyg? Gurer’f nyfb guvf fhocybg vaibyivat n pbireg haqretebhaq tebhc pnyyrq gur YFN, ohg vg ntnva qbrfa’g fgnaq bhg nf ragregnvavat rabhtu ba vgf bja zrevgf."

      Things like that are probably why I'm 0% invested in the characters and plot. Others seem to be more forgiving and buy into the guilt theme, whereas to me it felt more like a plot device to give Manny basic motivation than anything deep. There are more flaws too but it was 2016 when I last played it, making it less clear in my memory, so I'm not bothering to argue too much.

    45. @LeftHandedMatt & @Laukku
      Personally, while I rate Grim in the top percentage of adventures, I don't think it's flawless. But for the things that are better than many other games (especially of it's time): the graphics were rather good, considering that the adventure genre was not really suited for 3D. Compared to GK3, they were mesmerizing. The music perfectly fit the mood, as a 1920s Art Deco period piece, there weren't any horrible, ear-shattering voices that I can recall, and even though it had those god-awful tank controls, the inventory puzzles helped to make sure it wasn't too easy.

      I also didn't really care much about the 1950s Fidel Castro-esque subplot, I still wanted to see the game through from start to finish.

      I honestly (now) prefer substance over style, which is why I'd always grab Fate over this one. But Grim was the best looking, best sounding game at the time, and one of the last hurrahs of the genre (along with Sanitarium in the same year, and The Longest Journey two years later). I'll admit that a lot of people love the game because it was (in some people's eyes) the last GOOD adventure game for quite a while.

    46. Yeah, guilt trips don't do it for me, ohg V nz n fhpxre sbe n qnzfry va qvfgerff (oynzr gur 80f zbivrf V terj hc jvgu) naq nz ovt ba evtugvat vawhfgvprf. Abg fher vs vg’f n pnfr bs frrvat jung V jnagrq gb frr, ohg sbe zr vg jnf zber bs n gnyr bs evtugrbhfarff guna thvyg. Fbzrguvat fgnax va "gur flfgrz" naq Zrpur, qrfcvgr yvivat gur yvsr bs n fnvag jnf jebatrq ol gur pbeehcg ryrzrag va gur QbQ. Znaal jnf ng gur evtug cbvag va uvf bja rzbgvbany wbhearl (v.r. ng jvgf raq jvgu abguvat gb ybfr) gb guebj vg nyy njnl gb fnir gur tvey. V pbhyq eryngr gb Znaal - gur nagvureb jub jnagrq gb fnir Zrpur - gur vapneangr bs nyy gung jnf jebat.

      Add to this my love of art deco, film noir, non-sequitur humour ("Qvr oveqf… vg’f Eboreg Sebfg!"), quality soundtracks and cracking voice acting and this just ticked every box for me. No, I don’t think it’s perfect. The puzzles were a little inconsistent (although I only needed a UHS once – for a time based puzzle which actually angered me) and while I actually liked the tank controls, the inventory system was unnecessarily frustrating.

      I can see that this one would actually be even more polarising than DOTT. Even though I didn’t *love* DOTT, I thought it was really good, whereas if you love Grim Fandango, you’ll adore it, if you don’t, it’ll probably miss the mark by a long way.

    47. @PsOmA Number one, really? I guess people that like Grim really like it. I ran some quick numbers and I think it came out about equal to DotT for me (73). I really dinged it hard on inventory/interface, and I remember there being some puzzles where I went "WHAT. HOW" and overall I relied on a walkthrough more than I did for DotT (or Curse of Monkey Island for that matter). Dialogue/acting mostly great but I could have done without Glottis sometimes.

    48. I think you can find people whose appreciation for Grim Fandango falls at all levels of the spectrum, not just the extremes. But I can see it being more polarising than most. I'm one of those who like it a lot, although weirdly it's closer to being one of my favourite games generally than one of my favourite adventure games specifically.

      I think this must have to do with the kind of experience it provided, and memories it created. It was a game that took inspiration from artistic, aesthetic, and cultural sources that were totally unfamiliar to me (about 12 years old at the time). And it had this tone, you know? At times mournful, wistful and darkly comic, it was, if not completely ground breaking for games, certainly unusual. I found its characters to be wonderful companions along a compelling journey. And it's among a very few games I've ever played to feature poetry.

      If you're like me, these are the sorts of things that capture the imagination, that stay with you for long after you finish playing. The minute to minute gameplay is less compelling: puzzles are obtuse and frustrating, the controls are a frequent source of irritation, the switching perspectives as you navigate often disorienting. I can count the adventure games I've finished without recourse to a guide on one hand, but this definitely isn't one of them.

      On a scale specifically designed to give equal (or at least proportionate) consideration to all the elements that make an adventure game, well, an adventure game, I don't think I could put it near the top of those I'd played. It is a game too much of extreme highs and lows for that: I expect my personal "pissed" top 5 would feature games that were highly competent across the board, like ToonStruck and Broken Sword.

      But while these are games I enjoyed and remember fondly, it's the singular experiences like Grim Fandango that I found genuinely have affected my outlook in general, and my opinions on things like (whisper it) capital-a Art.

    49. Out of curiosity I tried applying the "pissed" criteria to Grim Fandango. My ratings aren't calibrated against anything else and were plucked out of the air, but the game ended up getting 77, which feels about right to me.

      Puzzles and Solvability - 5
      Interface and Inventory - 5
      Story and Setting - 9
      Sound and Graphics - 8
      Environment and Atmosphere - 10
      Dialogue and Acting - 9

    50. Argh, wish I remember where I recorded my scores, but I gave it something like:

      Puzzles and Solvability - 8 (having played DOTT and Full Throttle recently, I think I was dialled in to Tim Schafer's puzzle style)
      Interface and Inventory - 7 (as mentioned elsewhere, I actually love tank controls)
      Story and Setting - 10
      Sound and Graphics - 10 (evidence of how good this was despite being an early 3D game is how little the remastered version differed)
      Environment and Atmosphere - 10
      Dialogue and Acting - 10

      Important to note that this is benchmarked against everything that I've played so far. As we work through other games (something tells me Broken Sword will cause a realignment), I'll revisit. But at this stage, the score is an bonkers 92 which is ahead of anything else I've scored, including GK1 which I'd currently consider my favourite adventure (though is also scoring below COMI).

  13. Longest Journey I think probably hasn't aged well, especially graphically. A lot of the late-90s early 3D efforts have not held up anything like as well as VGA graphics have done when you look back. And since the art is such an element of the worldbuilding and environment in that game, blocky low-res graphics might detract rather than add to it with modern eyes.

    Blade Runner I enjoyed, but it has a lot of issues and I don't think it will score too well on PISSED. An awful lot of it depends on how much you like the movie and buy into the premise. As with TLJ, I think the years might not have been kind to the technology. Ditto Discworld Noir - I love Pratchett, and it's the best of the Discworld games, but it really hasn't aged well at all.

    Full Throttle had its moments, but was way too easy and too short to score well, and had interface issues with some of the reaction-based minigames like the bike combat.

    I never played Ace Attorney, maybe I'll fire that up when the blog gets to it :)

    1. My problem with The Longest Journey is more the jerky animation rather than the quality of the artwork. That said, I haven't yet loaded it up in ScummVM yet, to see how they handle it with it having been added to the emulator in the last few months.

      Discworld Noir, I loved the game the first time around, but I was never one for games that require me to exhaust thousands of dialog trees to solve it. As much as I enjoyed it in the past, I think I'd only want to watch a YouTube playthrough now.

    2. Considering that games like Eternam and Alone in the Dark already have good scores despite being early 3d, I think the late '90s stuff will be fine. Even better if the backgrounds are pre-rendered 3D, that tends to hold up a lot better.

      Blade Runner will be interesting, everyone I've ever heard talk about it says its amazing, though the only person I've heard specifically praise the somewhat unusual graphics was not someone I'd trust. It does have a lot going for it, especially since it's supposed to be very replayable for an adventure game.

    3. The big problem with Blade Runner is that there’s hardly any puzzles in it. It’s more go from A to B, talk to people, go to C. It’s got a lot of atmosphere but the random story elements just makes it a bit meaningless and more of an interactive story than a game

    4. There are a few, but broadly speaking I agree about the lack of puzzles in Blade Runner.

      It's also not as replayable as it's sometimes made out to be. I'd say it's probably similar in replayability to Fate of Atlantis - without wanting to give spoilers, after one playthrough you will have seen about 80% of the content, but you could play through a couple more times taking different paths and see some different outcomes. There are multiple endings, and your choices do get to determine your path and the fate of you and other characters, but it only really starts branching significantly towards the end - the first half to two thirds of each playthrough will only vary in small details.

      It's also got the reaction-based shooting minigame which will probably put a lot of players off. I didn't like it.

  14. Given that DotT is the best SCUMM adventure game I've ever played - even better than Fate of Atlantis and Monkey Island 2 - I was so certain it would be in the top ten, if not the new best ranking.

    I guess it's true what they say about chickens and counting them.

    1. I'm just checking, but my math is right and I gave DotT a 72, right? And that's definitely higher than Quest for Glory 2's 66, right? This isn't necessarily directed at you, just a general check that it should be on the top ten right about now.

    2. We're not THAT fast in updating the sidebars... Sorry...

  15. I fully agree that the final score really isn't too important on this site - yet I also have to say that I was expecting something a fair bit higher. If this couldn't score in the 90s I'm not sure anything ever will.

    But I've enjoyed reading the alternative viewpoint as much as I don't agree with it.

  16. We reviewers do have different styles. In my case, I am not sure how I would have scored the game differently, but I would have spent a lot more time being distracted by all of the historic events and trying to explain American history for no reason...

    Plenty of good games in our future. My optimism may be premature, but I think we'll still find a few games to score above this one.

  17. Leaderboard has been updated. We must bid farewell to QfG2 which has fallen off the Top 10. That leaves us tied with 4 LucasArts games and 4 Sierra games in the Top 10 with two wildcards (Cyr and Mythos).

    1. When I discovered the blog, QfG1 was the top game. It's not far away from falling off the top 10 too (just 3 better games more), and when it does it will mark an end of an era for me.

  18. I'm surprised you scored DoTT so high in the first two categories after having multiple complaints about them. Based on your comments, I'd have expected them to score no higher than 6, rather than 8. OTOH, I'd have given a higher rating to setting and story. The invading tentacles, and the way to handle them, is very original. Maybe 6 each in puzzles and interface, 7 for story. But I didn't take the time to do a playthrough and writeup of the game! :-) Obviously you really liked the puzzles, despite your frustration with some of them, and thought the interface worked well despite some quibbles.

    1. I was reading into the concept of Tempered Praise and Tempered Criticism (pertaining specifically to literary reviews, but apt all the same), and Morpheus' review falls into the rare category (along with the likes of Citizen Cain, or 1984 sticking to the literary theme) where something is so universally lauded that the reviewer focuses on what makes it imperfect, rather than what makes it at all good. Yes, there are a number of criticisms around puzzle design, but that was needed to justify why it didn't get a 10 vs, something like Blue Force, which I would describe as a pretty ordinary game and where a review in contrast would seem disproportionately positive as we'd be having to justify why it ended up getting a 2 or a 3 and not a zero.

  19. ThatAnonymousSpaniardWhoLovesCoktelVision16 March 2023 at 02:13

    Since the DoTT entries have become more or less a forum of sorts, and not totally offtopic since there is an ongoing discussion about which games will be able to score higher than this one and even reach the top spot, I wanted to say a couple of things about Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.

    The first one is kind of negative: Can we agree that the story is kind of racist and that Gabriel is sexist? I mean, all black characters are evil, among other stuff. Or should we ignore it because it was okay at the time? But was it really "okay" at the time?

    The second one is a very interesting series of online articles
    I just discovered, titled Hunting Shadows: The Making of Gabriel Knight: t

    1. I'm not a big fan of looking at stories, games, etc from the past with present-day glasses. At the time it was written, I don't think it was intended to be racist. That's good enough for me. Same reason I have no issue watching old TV shows where beliefs about certain things have since changed or common knowledge has since changed, such as sexuality.
      An example: in the past, I've watched episodes of the old TV show Adam-12 from around 1968 or so. Some of the story lines or character setups involve patriarchal ideas, such as ladies introducing themselves as "Mrs. Robert Jones" or when a car accident is caused because a lady was in a rush to get to the beauty parlor, of course. No one would dream of writing that as acceptable now, but it was average life back then. I wouldn't dismiss it as a sexist show.
      Conversely, a character being written as a sexist doesn't mean that it was accepted, even back then. People can be written with character flaws. Gabriel wasn't the ideal specimen of human, he had character flaws, and some of them were even more pronounced as the series progressed. Some of those character flaws led to the unresolved cliffhanger at the end of the third game (not spoiling it, being a good blogger :)

    2. Something can be racist or sexist without being done with conscious intent to harm, even if it was accepted at its time. Few people "intend to be racist" with any given act. They just do what's normal for them.
      You're quite right with your second point, though, that a character behaving in a certain way doesn't necessarily mean that it's condoned by the creators or by the society of the time.

    3. Taken literally, "all black characters are evil" is also false since there are non-villainous black characters, and the game goes to lengths to explain the bad guys as a special case and that voodoo isn't inherently evil.

    4. I can see how GK1 could be considered sexist. That said, I think it's important to separate the story from the character. Gabriel is undoubtedly written as a modern day cad but his behaviour is typically chided rather than celebrated (the very first line of dialogue is something like "Gabriel's a lout, sorry, I mean he's out") and the game does have a strong female character in the form of Grace, a brilliant female narrator and a female urnq bs vaqhfgel va gur sbez bs Znyvn. The complete pivot of Grace's character in GK2 is my biggest lament, and I'd agree the story in GK2 is at a minimum disappointingly stereotypical if not outright sexist.

      I'm going to need help on the racist front though. It could be a result of growing up in a very multicultural city amongst a culture of larrakanism, but Australians don't tend to be very well tuned in to racial triggers (interestingly, despite, or perhaps because of this, racism and racial tensions are relatively low?!?). As a whole, the game seemed very well researched and objective in its representation of other cultures, was diverse in terms of characters, and while a character like Qe Wbua jnf oynpx, naq na nagntbavfg, vg frrzf ybtvpny gung fbzrbar jvgu trarengvbany Ibbqbb rkcbfher jbhyq eha n Ibbqbb Zhfrhz naq or qenja gb nfcrpgf bs vgf cenpgvpr. In short, it felt congruent.

      I should caveat all this by saying I'm a white, middle class, middle aged male - none of this comes from a position of judgement however... but rather the desire to understand positions and experiences that differ from my (admittedly very sheltered) own.

    5. ThatAnonymousSpaniardWhoLovesCoktelVision16 March 2023 at 22:50

      Perhaps you're right on the sexist/anti-hero front, but let's be honest: the thing Jane was making here is creating the typical "wild guy who ladies love to tame" type, which is kind of a whitewashing of the behaviour in itself.

      Regarding the racism, I think it has clear issues even if Jane clearly tries to avoid them, and I'm also a white hetero dude. For example, Grace mentions that their parents had arranged a marriage for her (because she's Asian), something that had to be removed in the remake. Another example: there is cleraly cultural misappropiation in being a straight white female that admitedly never visited New Orleans and creates a story where voodoo and (most) black people are evil (not bad considering these people were taken from Africa, forced into Catholicism and then used voodoo secretly!). And a third example would be the unfortunate use of a real historical character, the "John" voodoo guy, who's an evil maniac here.

      The story is definitely entertaining and the characters colorful... But I also must add another caveat. Jane said that she was inspired by The Sandman comics to create a supernatural story, and I must say: I'm not even a superfan of "dark/emo" stuff like The Sandman, but she failed big time if she wanted to replicate the mysery of The Sandman. I recently read all the comics and they were far superior to GK or any JJ story. Another big influence was apparently the movie Angel Heart, and honestly the story seems much interesting in that movie on first sight.

      So yeah, I find her a bit boring and unconsciously racist/sexist, but that's fine because 90% of the games at the time had even more silly stories. I'm only here for the puzzles!

    6. See, here's the thing, it's easy to flag something as problematic but not everyone will agree.

      I have quite a few Asian friends whose marriages were arranged. They are open about the fact, happy to discuss it and have no shame about it. The relationships are healthy and loving and were freely entered into on both sides. It is, to paraphrase what I've been told, more about parents doing the leg work to provide their children with introductions and opportunities to meet potential partners.

      Now culturally speaking this is only a very limited view - it is anecdotal data, I don't make any claims as to how far it can be extrapolated across Asian cultures. And what is the signifier 'arranged marriage' entails could be very different elsewhere in the world.

      But from my perspective and experience, if a work features an Asian character who has an arranged marriage, why is it not as valid to say that is authentic in terms of cultural representation, as it is to claim it as a reproduction of a harmful stereotype? You can make an interpretation, but you cannot say prima facie that it is one or the other.


    1. Oh wow, that's a surprise. I had the original game back in the '90s and found it... odd. But strangely endearing. I remember spending quite a bit of time on it, but it was quite difficult. I don't think I ever got too far into it. The combat was a bit off putting.

    2. Sweet! I find the graphics of the original LBA charming, whilst the sequel could do with a spit and polish being early 3D (though, having played it again recently, has aged better than most of its contemporaries).

      Glad they are leaving the option to use the original controls in place too. Am I the only one in the world who actually likes tank controls?!?

    3. Quite possibly. I personally only like tank controls when playing a game like GTA2 and driving an actual tank. ;)

      The controls were one of the only major detractors for me in Grim Fandango. I'm glad that I was still able to use a keyboard (I was a classic 80s gamer, after all) but not like that.

    4. No, you're not, although I prefer them more in 2nd person games like Alone in the Dark and Escape from Monkey Island, don't remember how well they worked in an overhead view.

  21. Now that we've finished both MM games, there is only one thing left to do: Review the Maniac Mansion TV show!? (

    Any takers? :)

    (My one regret is that they never made a Zork TV series...)

  22. ThatAnonymousSpaniardWhoLovesCoktelVision26 March 2023 at 01:52

    Here's another OT: How well do you think each classic graphic adventure game/series would work as a live action movie/cartoon/series? Here's my take:
    - Monkey Island: This should work quite well in multiple formats. Maybe an animation series that both adults and children can watch.
    - Fate of Atlantis: I have more doubts with this one. It would be a better movie than Crystal Skull, but worse than the Young Indiana Jones series.
    - Maniac Mansion (the real story, not the one that was made): Technically possible, it has potential.
    - Sam & Max: It also has potential, it could be some Simpsonesque cartoon.
    - The Dig: There are sci-fi movies with worse scripts and specially worse soundtracks, so I guess it could be done.
    - Full Throttle: I have doubts this could be extended much more than the game script, but then again the characters are semi-lovable.
    - King's Quest: Not my style, but I guess you could make a movie combining the best ideas from all games?
    - Space Quest: I see a lot of potential here, and Roger already looks like Dirk Benedict in Battlestar Galactica.
    - Leisure Suit Larry: Maybe the time for this was 35 years ago, so we kind of lost the train?
    - Police Quest: I can see this being some b-list movie, but I don't see anyone putting money to make it.
    - Quest for Glory: Just like King's Quest, not my cup of tea, but I can see some interesting settigns for the fans of the genre.
    - Gabriel Knight: A masterpiece compared to 95% of plots in graphic adventures, so definitely yes. It would definitely be better than any Tomb Raider, Mario or Sonic movie.
    - Others: Since Shadow of the Comet and Sherlock Holmes have already been covered by other media, I guess something could be made based on Myst. Coktel Vision? I don't think so.

    1. Beneath a Steel Sky is short enough to work as a standalone movie. With a big budget, Union City would make for some arresting visuals. But although it's one of the better adventure game plots, it's rather exploration-heavy (it's very focused on gaining access to new areas via puzzles related to how the city works) so more liberties than usual may be necessary to make the pacing work as an adaptation.

      Not necessarily quite "classic", but The Moment of Silence would probably make a better movie/miniseries than a game. Other than the bland main character the story has a decent concept, which would greatly benefit from cutting out all the tedious backtracking and repetitive dialogue trees.

    2. Monkey Island could make a good animated series, I think.

    3. I always thought Willy Beamish would make a good kids animated series...

    4. The Blackwell series also would make a great, uh, series. I can imagine it as live action TV. The premise lends itself well to a ghost-of-the-week format.

  23. Apologies for no Dracula post this week. The "Won!" post is long and taking a while to write and edit, and then I got snagged by that annoying bug that's been going around and have been too foggy to write for most of a week. (And I have a surprise post that has been brewing as well. We'll see which one lands first.)

  24. Wow. I just got to see this review and I'm kinda shocked, as I consider this to be pretty much the best adventure game of all time. From your comments, it seems like you have a preexisting bias against a lot of the things that make this game what it is, such as being cartoony, or taking place in a single place over different time periods. These are very subjective matters that other people (such as myself) love.
    I dare say this is the first game I've seen where the blog is *way* off from the general consensus, and in general, just plain *wrong* (IMO, of course).

    1. Coming to this comment after Alex's comment below, I have a few new insights on this compared to just after finishing the game. Since DotT, I've played a little known Japanese adventure game called Welcome House, which is similar in a few key ways and dissimilar in all others. They're both cartoony games set in mansions. While playing Welcome House, I enjoyed it's humor, but it was unfortunately also accompanied by long stretches of just walking around doing the game's puzzles or figuring out where to go next. This is an extreme example of the the original point I think I failed to bring out, the cartoon half and the puzzle half can feel at odds with each other. One tires of goofy scenery when one is just trying to figure out what to do next and has been at it for a bit. Time spent doing puzzles is time spent focusing on puzzles, which doesn't work so well with the usual madcap and fast-paced atmosphere of a cartoon.
      Back to Welcome House, at about 75% through of that game, you reach a point where you think you've won, only for the game to continue with some new stuff thrown in where you've already gone. Every game has a length they should be played before you begin to feel the game has been stretched out. Because DotT takes place in three locations that are technically the same, it does have a shorter time for that to happen than it should, and for me, that was approaching as I reached the end game.
      Nevertheless, at the end of the day, my opinion is not hatred as seems to be the implication, but not unquestioning love of the game. I still think of it as a very good game, just not the greatest adventure game ever made.

  25. damn, I totally missed this game .. so, question I have since 1993. What's that shadow in the present lobby in the stairs on the first screen mean ? What is that shadow ? the one that looks like an L on the stairs ! what's that ? Even in the remaster they have that weird shadow.

    That's a mystery, so mysterious that that specific part of the screen is not shown in any screenshot in any of the articles here =(

    1. Most of the screens have shadows and light from window lighting. Looking at a screenshot of what you're asking about, I'm thinking its coming from the street light outside, into the window, but partially deflected by the grandfather clock or something else. Can't think of any easter egg implementations off hand, personally...

    2. thanks for checking, another theory I found .. it's an L for Lobby .. who knows. The comments in the remaster mention mention nothing of it, and the original drawing sketches also have the L

    3. this specific art shows the L as well .. very bright:

    4. Curious, the way the room is setup, if there should be a L shape, it should be upside down or something. There's nothing anywhere that should diffuse the light like that, unless I missed something. Probably just a weird reference to their own company or just a bit of weird environmental design.

  26. I've sent an email to Peter Chan, since his signature was over the specific background art. I got the reply today, his words: "“L” stands for Lobby.".

    Mystery solved !


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