Reviewed July 2009 by Jamie Davies
If you’re old enough to remember the original Sam & Max title on the PC the first time around, then there’s a very good chance you hold it in high regard. Launched in that bygone age of gaming when `point and click` adventures were at their peak, Sam & Max Hit the Road perfectly captured the off the wall crime solving duo. It also introduced a whole new audience to their surreal crime solving adventures and unique brand of obscure humour.
Now TellTales Games have brought them back and given that the studio consists of some ex-employees of LucasArts (who were arguably the Point and Click Kings in their heyday) it means there’s a lot to be excited about. Sam & Max Save the World is a collection of the first Season of episodes that were previously released on the PC / Wii and comprises six separate, but interlinked, adventures. This doesn’t make it cheap – currently priced at 1600 Microsoft Points it’s a hefty purchase but offset slightly against the current price of the titles on Wii and PC, so it actually works out to be something of a bargain. You get a lot for you money too. Each episode is lengthy and depending on how quickly you can wrap your mind around the puzzles, the playing time will undoubtedly run into the early double digits at least. It goes without saying there’s little replay value but there are some achievements thrown in to get you to go back to some parts of the game.
Unlike TellTales other recent XBLA release, Wallace and Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees, the game doesn’t allow free 3D movement and sticks to the more traditional point and click method. This is something of a boon because not only does it help the game retain that old school feeling, it also avoids the clunky and clumsy handling that made Wallace & Gromit feel instantly dated. Here the movement of the hand interface to interact with things using the joypad is surprisingly hassle free and leaves you wondering why they took the backwards step in Fright of the Bumblebees, especially given that it’s the newer title of the two series. Here frustration is avoided because all interactive objects are clearly marked with text and don’t require sweeping motions of the whole playing area or pin point accuracy to try and interact with something.
While each episode has only a handful of locations, the puzzles in each are quite expansive, no doubt helped by the surreal nature of Sam and Max’s world. Anyone who’s played the previous PC game will get into the flow immediately. That said, newcomers will be blissfully unaware that the solutions are actually less surreal this time around and make it more approachable. The old hands will also find some aspects are a nod and a wink towards the previous title which undoubtedly helps that heady feeling of nostalgia. And of course, while the main characters voices are changed slightly, the same charming vein of surreal humour and abstract wit runs through the entire game, making it feel like the dog and rabbit duo have never been away.
The only downside to the game is that there are some slight technical issues – the game juddering in parts being a good example. However given that the PC title also suffered with these, it’s not a case of the title being a shoddy conversion and the certainly never get to the point where they ruin the experience.
If you’re a point and click fiend or a Sam & Max convert (or even better, a combination of both) then purchasing this game is a no brainer. People who’ve played other episodes may bemoan the fact that they can’t purchase individual episodes but for those who are unsure of the purchase price there’s always the Trial version to help make up your mind.