Caren and the Tangled Tentacles

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Caren and the Tangled Tentacles
Start screen
Game No. 463
Voting 8.00 points, 12 votes
Developer Martin Wendt, Oliver Lindau, Kamil Wolnikowski
Publisher Prior Art
Musician Kamil Wolnikowski
HVSC-File /MUSICIANS/J/Jammer/Caren_and_the_Tangled_Tentacles.sid
Release 2015
Platform C64
Genre Adventure
Gamemode Single player
Operation Icon Port2.pngJoystick Keyboard
Media Diskette Cartridge
Language Language German Language:english

Description[edit | edit source]

"Caren and the Tangled Tentacles" is a classical point & click adventure in the style of Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. You take over the role of Caren, a young woman who works as chemist in the neighbouring institute. On a usual working day she makes a disturbing discovery there. So she starts to uncover the background of the heinous events with investigative work. The aim of the game is to reconstruct the events as far as possible and finally uncover a baleful secret in the deep.

The game was created by the team Prior Art, consisting of the in the scene well-known Enthusi, Veto and Jammer. Originally, the game was created as an entrance to the Forum 64 Adventure Compo 2015 and won an outstanding first place in all categories: best game, best graphics and best sound.

The game is designed for two languages and it is possible at any time during the game to switch between German and English. Furthermore, it can run on PAL and NTSC systems, whereby the fastloader can only be chosen with PAL. On NTSC you are limited to the non-accelerated kernal load.

Prior Art logo.
Start menu with the options English/German and Fastload/Kernal.

Design[edit | edit source]

Screen buildup.

The screen in "Caren and the Tangled Tentacles" is divided into two areas: at the top, the display of the surroundings, and at the bottom the menu and inventory display. The game is controlled with a pointer with which you can choose hot spots in the upper area for interaction or positions to which Caren shall walk. Dialogues are shown in the shape of speech bubbles in the upper part of the screen. When Caren or other people speak in the game, the mouth moves according to the vowels and umlauts in the spoken text, which is a nice gimmick. Furthermore, Caren has several facial expressions that she shows fitting to the situation.

An elaborate graphics engine allows Caren to also move behind items with complex shapes and be covered correctly.

In a part of the rooms some atmospheric music is played. In the others, there are very well designed sound effects. Same as the graphics, the sound - for which Kamil "Jammer" Wolnikowski hit the keys, is one of the game's strengths.

A special feature is the detailed manual that can be called up before loading the actual game. On seven pages, all worth knowing about the controls of the game is shown in a nifty proportional font.

Hints[edit | edit source]

Controls[edit | edit source]

An own system of controls, which allows both the clicking of target position and the selection of commands with only one joystick button, was developed for this game. The joystick in port 2 moves the pointer in the upper part of the screen. A short press on the joystick button makes Caren go to the corresponding location if possible. A long press on the joystick button changes to the action mode which can be recognized by the change of the pointer and the blinking of the action symbol in the menu display. The duration of the pressing until you change into the action mode, can be set individually (see keyboard commands). In the action mode, a movement of the joystick selects the corresponding action (look, use, use with, Zzz). When choosing "use with" the cursor moves to the inventory where an object can be chosen for interaction. "Zzz" does not seem to be in use in the current version of the game.

Next to the joystick in port 2, there are also some keyboard commands, which, however, are not compulsory for playing the game (hear, hear, numerous owners of the C64 Games System!):

Key Action
F1   Load (keep key pressed for a longer time).
F3   Switch language between English and German.
F5   Adjust text speed.
F7   Save (keep key pressed for a longer time).
RETURN   Adjust delay until command menu is activated.

Persons[edit | edit source]

Image Name Description
Caren The protagonist, a chemist in her early 20s. She prefers to get changed in the dark, but more than counterbalances this almost Victorian-like prudery with her quick mind.
Shop ownder A mysterious man. Is he the brain behind all the events? Will he provide essential help for Caren? Does he simply want to stare off into space, sitting idly? If you knew the answer he would only be half as mysterious...
Receptionist The receptionist in the institute, Carens working place. As is known, women are able to multitask and to be able to show the flow of words of this women realistically, the game engine was given a multi-tasking mechanism especially for this.
Doc Amber Employee in the institute and in charge of the IT: claims to be occupied and reacts bored to user queries: typical for admins....
Rat This cute small animal likes Caren much. This is, however, not mutual.
??? Bothell The dog of Caren's boss. Named after the nice town Bothell in the State of Washington, USA. The American Football team of the High School of Bothell holds, btw., with 9 overtimes the record for the highest number of overtimes in a game of Football in the USA, which surely is a fascinating anecdote for the next cocktail party. This is information is completely irrelevant fot the game though. The dog is probably a poodle. No a German Sheperd fits a boss better. Ach, who does know these details anyway...
??? Unknown An unknown person around whom a mystical secret exists. He manages to be at the same time at different seperate places, which turns out as an unenviable ability.

Solution[edit | edit source]

General hints

The game has only a relatively small scope and the puzzles have a comparably low difficulty grade. Therefore it should be solvable for everyone (a sentence, which has the potential to reduce many a place to despair, if it turns out that you are not "everyone"). In case you should happen to be a blockhead, the general rules for point & click adventures are valid:

  • Carefully search every room for hot spots with the pointer.
  • Try to combine every hot spot with all items.
  • Do not let yourself get confused by red herrings: Some things are not important for the solution, but others are (muahaha!).

Cheats[edit | edit source]

None known.

Voting[edit | edit source]

Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):
8.00 points at 12 votes (rank 100).
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
The Meteoriks Scene Award 2016: 'Interactive' (cross-platform) #1 Rank 1
Forum 64 Adventure Game Competition 2015 #1 Rank 1
4Players Bestes Scene Game Award 2015 #1 Rank 1
Reset #8 9 9 out of 10 points
C64Games 6 12th March 2016 - 6 out of 10 points - 160 downs
C64 Scene Database (CSDb) 9.9 15th March 2016 - 9.9 out of 10 points - 1502 downs

Reviews[edit | edit source]

Claus: The game excels through its presentation and is simply a feast for the eye. The music is professional and fits the corresponding scene. The many details as small animations or the built-in pong provide for permanent entertainment. Technically absolutely fantastic, it is alone the scope and the story developing too fast due to the simple tasks, that keep me from a top rating. Not surprising for a competition entry that had to be developed below the sword of Damokles with an brassbound deadline. I excitedly await future versions or chapters that are based on the same fantastic engine. For me: 8 out of 10 points!

Jodigi: It was already much fun to play the preview on the gamescom 2015 in Cologne.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Obviously, Maniac Mansion was an inspiration for the game. The name of the game hints to that (tentacles play a substantial role in Maniac Mansion), and in Caren's bedroom is a picture of Dr. Fred's villa on the wall and a reference to Sandy.

In the game there is an Atari 2600 game console, on which you can play "Pong" as a game in the game. For this the sounds were exactly imitated as in the original tennis and adapted in wave length and frequency as well as filter adaption so it sounds as if it was coming from loud speakers from that time.

Technical background information[edit | edit source]

The developers have published many background information about the development of the game. Amongst others, there was a "Making Of" series in the RETURN (issue 21 and 22).

Some basic data:

  • The game consists of over 11.000 hand-written lines of Assembler.
  • It contains almost 4.800 lines of scripts that are compiled to another 15.000 lines of Assembler.
  • For the game graphics the multicolor character mode was used, with a skillful mixture of multicolor and HiRes characters.
  • The graphics were created in Pro Motion 6.5 with the help of further special converting tools.
  • The masking of the characters in the game is solved by a Cookie Cutter process that uses the properties of the video chip, that sprites, which are shown behind the graphics, let the graphics also shine through sprites that are actually shown in the front of them.
  • For the automatic finding of the path, rectangular fields and the information, whether you can go from one field to another, are saved for each room. So only the shortest passage to the next field needs to be calculated.
  • Due to reasons of memory capacity they abstained from a double buffer, nevertheless, the game runs with a 50 Hz screen update rate.
  • Save for a few exceptions the code was created on ARM Linux hardware.

2nd C64 Visual Commpendium version[edit | edit source]

The team of Prior Art busily went on working on the expansion of the game. In line with the kickstarter project "2nd C64 Visual Commpendium" 100 cartridges of the game with an expanded version containing new rooms and scenes went to backers. Thanks to the cartridge there are practically no loading times. Furthermore, the same version on a USB stick went to all other backers of the project. This version 1.3 of the game stays exclusive for the backers of the kickstarter project.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Presumably inspired by the press releases or the previews on parties, the Cracking Ensemble Atlantis & F4CG had the idea to release "Caren 2 [[[h0t preview]]]" in the scene. As the release came some weeks before the competition deadline, the Crackers were ensured the attention and downloads on the CSDb. However, the whole thing turned out as a funny hoax, in every case it is worth seeing and a must have for fans of Caren.

Video[edit | edit source]

Cover[edit | edit source]

Cover of the version for the kickstarter project

Cartridge[edit | edit source]


Box and cartridge of the version for the kickstarter project

Highscore[edit | edit source]

In this game there is no score.

Links[edit | edit source]