Sam and Max Save The World

Telltale Games have brought the Freelance Police back into action after a few years in the wilderness. Has this old dog (and his hyperactive rabbity thing) been able to learn any new tricks?

Sam and Max saves the world is a game previously released episodically on the PC in late 2006 – early 2007, and then later on the Wii, as Sam and Max: Season One. The XBLA release contains all six episodes and you’re free to play them in any order – although each episode is a self-contained story, the underlying story arc (involving a dastardly hypnosis conspiracy) only makes sense if you play through in order.

Each episode takes a couple of hours to complete, although this will depend on how much of the dialogue you want to listen to – you can spend a lot of time clicking on random objects just to hear Sam’s dry views on his surroundings.

The game is a proper point-and-click affair – Sam is controlled by clicking on screen where you want him to go – rather than guiding him round the screen with the thumbsticks a la Wallace and Gromit. This allows for a more precise control mechanic, although the option to double click and speed Sam up would have been a blessing. Sometimes his slow amble is a little frustrating – especially if you’re travelling from the Inconvenience Store to Sybil Pandemik’s (or vice versa) for something to solve a puzzle.

Telltale have captured the feel of the original Sam and Max (and the associated spin-off cartoon) – the humour is spot on, both in the dialogue and objects you’ll see in the game world – check the door at the TV Studios for a new twist on fire safety.

The puzzles are not too taxing – but are fun to solve. Getting Sam psycho-analyzed, for example, will be a hit-and-miss affair until you get into the groove of what is needed – a lot like the insults section in the first Wallace and Gromit – but it’s never a chore working it out.The initial release of this “series”, while getting praise for the games in general, did attract one or two concerns about the difficulty level of the puzzles. They are quite simplistic, but then if you’ve got a six episode arc you really don’t want someone getting stuck in the first episode and, therefore, not wanting to continue the story through subsequent releases.

Graphically the game is brilliantly. The transition to 3D characters from their flatter counterparts in Sam and Max Hit The Road is well realised, and the characters look just like they should – just more so! The backgrounds are sufficiently detailed to keep you waving your cursor around looking for things to click on, and often have sight gags thrown in for good measure. The voice-overs are spot on as well, and it’s often worth clicking on random items just to hear Sam, or Max, extract a pun from it.

The asking price of 1600 points works out at just shy of 300 points an episode and, as each episode provides more entertainment than a lot of the high priced XBLA titles, this is definately value for your pseudo-money points. With quality releases like this, alongside Wallace and Gromit and the upcoming re-imagined Monkey Island, Telltale are fast becoming the new darlings of the Arcade. And that’s no bad thing.







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