Sam & Max: Season One

Reviewed by Arep | 5 January 2008
Genre: | Publisher: Telltale Games | Developer: Telltale Games
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The Good

Quaint, funny, and great fun. A great homage to the old school point and click adventure games.

The Bad

Quite short and rather simplistic.

* Originally authored by FunkyJ *

LucasArts Sam & Max Hit the Road was a hilarious point & click adventure game based on the comic ‘Sam & Max: Freelance Police’. Starring the Freelance Police duo, Sam the overly verbose dog and Max his homicidal rabbit sidekick, the game was as clever as it was funny. It appeared smack bang in the middle of PC gaming’s heyday, alongside Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and Maniac Mansion, introducing gamers to clever puzzles with an intuitive interface, alongside funny stories with memorable characters.

As hilarious and fun as point & click adventures were, they have pretty much gone the way of the dodo, evolved out of a market that now hungers for graphical glitz and complex worlds and puzzlesAs hilarious and fun as point & click adventures were, they have pretty much gone the way of the dodo, evolved out of a market that now hungers for graphical glitz and complex worlds and puzzles. Kids growing up on a diet of console gaming with fully realised 3D landscapes, intense action and complex game design, not to mention fully rendered double D sized boobs thanks to Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, meant that these classic 2D games were left to gather dust on the shelves.

Yet fans have always lamented the death of these LucasArts series and their iconic characters, and rumours they would make a comeback kept the love for point and click gaming alive. A Sam & Max sequel was slated to be released by Lucas Arts in 2004, but like many game sequels it sadly never saw the light of day.

However, various members of the team working on the game left Lucas Arts and went on to form Telltale Games, who successfully acquired the rights to produce more Sam & Max games. As an experiment to see how well a PC gaming audience would respond to a new concept of episodic content, the new Sam & Max game would be broken into six episodes, and released monthly online, instead of as one package. Well, the experiment was a success, but for those without net access or just wanting the entire series on disk, there’s now Sam & Max: Series 1.

Although the game is fully 3D now, the look and feel of the game is definitely old-school. The game recreates the old locations of the duo’s HQ and adds two new locations to suit the wacky adventures of Sam & Max. Bosco’s Inconvenience Store and Sybil’s office are staffed by the oddest characters and are full of quirky items and laugh out loud sight gags. Bosco is a paranoid shopkeeper who sells ridiculous items for overblown amounts of money. Sybil is, as her name suggests, someone who keeps shifting her identity. Originally a tattooist, then a psychotherapist, and in a later episode she produces a tabloid newspaper, and then becomes a witness for hire! There are other bit-part characters that pop up, such as former child stars the Soda Poppers, weird little fellows who feature in the first episode as the main villains, if they can be called such.

All the characters are over the top and completely bizarre, and some of the interactions with the characters are intensely funnyAll the characters are over the top and completely bizarre, and some of the interactions with the characters are intensely funny. Although most conversations are ask a question then choose a variety of responses, the way they’re voiced is incredibly amusing. The music is a kind of jazzy cop show score that fits in beautifully with the rest of the game.

Although each episode is self contained, there is an overarching plot involving world domination through hypnosis, and it’s as crazy as the old game Sam & Max Hit The Road. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be as many locations as the previous title, and the criticisms aimed at Point & Click Adventures are still relevant - there is bit of back tracking to various locations to pick up items to solve the riddles. Other riddles involve equipping Sam with an item and then using that item somewhere in the scene, which seems sometimes far more arbitrary than clever. But that’s part of the simple joy of Point & Click Adventures.

While at times it is more like an interactive story in a 3D world than something that we would call a fully fledged videogame, the episodic nature of the package works very well. Each episode lasts about an hour, so it’s great to pick up and play when you don’t want to be bugged down with some of the epic 20 hour long RPG’s or play with a bunch of kids who keep calling you a n00b or worse in online games.

All together, the package is great for kids, as the slapstick humour, whilst low-brow at times, is never too rude, and the puzzles never too taxing. It’s also great for casual gamers, those who might only have an hour or two a day to play games. Older gamers who fondly remember Sam & Max or other Lucas Arts games will get a kick out of it too.

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