DAY OF THE TENTACLE / LucasArts / PC
I've seen Day of the Tentacle cited as the "best adventure game ever" by a number of gaming rags. I'm not so sure about that title, but it's definitely in the top overall tier.
It's the sequel to Maniac Mansion, and while it is more linear, it is also much more polished, and I thought it was quite a bit funnier to boot. This time out, Bernard Bernoulli from the first game returns as the main character, accompanied by newcomers Hoagie and Laverne. Purple Tentacle drinks some toxic runoff from Dr. Fred's latest invention, and develops super-intelligence, with which he decides to take over the whole world. Fortunately, Dr. Fred has a time machine that can be used to travel back to the day before and turn off the sludge flow. Unfortunately, it requires a 2 million dollar diamond to operate, and in the process of using a cubic zirconium imitation, Hoagie and Laverne get thrown into different time periods and have to find power sources for their time pods to get back. This is especially a challenge for Hoagie, who winds up 200 years in the past (as the Founding Fathers of America meet at the Edison Inn to frame the Constitution), but Laverne has her challenges 200 years into the future as well, in a world ruled by tentacles and where humans are kept as pets.
You can switch between characters freely, and they can send items to each other via their Chrono-Johns. There is nothing approaching the dynamic structure of Maniac Mansion, where you could pick different characters with different abilities, and where time-sensitive events would occur, but that's the only real downside to the sequel, and it does make things less frustrating as there are no irrevocable hang-ups or deaths as there were in the first game.
The graphics and music are among Lucasarts' best. The whole game has a sort of Looney Tunes aesthetic and feel, with a lot of sight comedy and slapstick. It's one of the funnier adventures out there, particularly Hoagie's scenario, as he slouches around in the Revolutionary era hobnobbing with George Washington and Ben Franklin. The color and animation are both particularly good, with lovely hand-painted backgrounds, and the whole of the introductory gameplay sequence has voice acting even in the disk-based version (there was a later CD-ROM release that was fully voiced.)
The puzzles are really well-done too. The game is confined to a relatively small area - about 15 rooms or so in each of the time periods - so the challenge is mostly in thinking up zany solutions to puzzles using an inventory of odd items that at first seem extremely esoteric. This is a set-up that rarely works well, but this is one of the few games that pulls it off, as every puzzle solution is highly logical and fair, even if the logic is a bit off-the-wall sometimes. Thus, there's a real sense of satisfaction at finally coming up with the answer to a problem that's been bothering you, and your overall objectives are always pretty clear. I actually felt the game was a bit on the easy side overall, as adventures go, but it was just challenging enough to satisfy for the most part. The only small thing I didn't really like was passing items back and forth in the Chrono-John, sometimes a very trial-and-error process that takes a long time since you can only pass one item at a time, and the trading characters both have to be near it. That's not nearly enough to really weigh the game down, however.
So yeah, highly recommended as a good time for all.
* Gameplay Video