Sam & Max Season One

Developer:  Telltale Games
Publisher:  The Adventure Company
Year Released:  2007

Review by Rosemary Young (August, 2007)
Sam & Max Season One Screenshot

Great gouts of steaming magma on a beeline for the orphanage! We're on our way.
Developed by Telltale Games and initially distributed via download through both the Telltale and GameTap Sites; Sam & Max Season One is the sum total of the first 6 episodes of the latest adventures of this crazy crime solving duo. Its release is good news for anyone who couldn't tackle the downloads for whatever reason. It's also good news for those of us who want to add yet another box to the shelf to build our game collection.

So if you're a Sam & Max fan and haven't played the recent episodes, then this is your big chance. In fact you don't need to be a fan, or even a game player, because Sam (the smart dog in a suit) & Max (the frenetic white rabbity thing) are sure to win you over right from the very start. This game is such a giggle it would make a great introduction to adventure games. It's simple point and click, suitable for everyone, so if you own a computer why not join in and have a laugh.

'Laugh' is the operative word here, you'll be doing a lot of it in Sam & Max Season One. The wacky humour rarely misses the mark, but that's a personal thing anyway. It's piled on thick and fast with constant repartee at the click of the mouse button between the two madcap characters, and with an assortment of 'extras' to add to the banter. There's Bosco, who isn't quite sure who he is, and Sybil, who isn't quite sure what she is as she changes occupations like the wind, plus a host of other quirky characters who pop in and out of various episodes.

Sam & Max Season One Screenshot

Sweet mother of double jeopardy backstroking in butterscotch! We're on our way.
Nothing is sacred — everything's up for the S&M treatment: Reality TV, job hunting, gambling, new-age, computer nerds, computer games, and even Canada, and the list goes on. Humour is at the heart of this series and you'll be thoroughly entertained by the dialogue and the silly situations. You'll want to explore every conversation so as not to miss a thing. Look at everything too, because Sam or Max will inevitably have some witty words of wisdom to impart.

As the story progresses everything gets bigger and better: watch out for the soaring rate of inflation, and be prepared as your adversaries get mightier and mightier. First the horrors of a disenchanted child star, then a Reality TV Host, moving through to the shady Toy Mafia, a mad president, the internet and, finally, a problem of more astronomical proportions. I was waiting to see what might be next on the menu for annihilation.

Don't be deceived by my words. Sam's gun might come in handy once or twice but it doesn't hurt anyone, and there might be an explosion or two, but this crime-solving duo originated in a comic strip and this is a comic book style game. The cartoon graphics are big, bright and colourful and suit the style to a tee. The animation is excellent, too, and so is the voice acting and the music with an assortment of jazzy tempos slotted in to fit the various situations.

Sam & Max Season One Screenshot

Sweet suffering Saint Sebastian on the sousaphone in a short story by Susan Sontag! We're on our way.
The gameplay involves a good serving of character interaction, talk to everyone to progress the story, plus a lot of careful exploration. The puzzles aren't too difficult but there are opportunities to get stuck for a while if you don't pay attention. Not so much in the beginning episodes, but towards the end Max will have some good ideas for solving problems if you ask him nicely. The puzzles are generally inventory based so pick up anything that isn't nailed down. All your goodies are collected in a box that opens with the click of the mouse button. There's a lot going on, so watch the action for cues as to what to do.

As well as using inventory items there are some dialogue based puzzles too, say the right thing, in the right order, and all will be well. Trial and error might be a lot of help here and it doesn't hurt one bit to follow every last string of dialogue because you're sure to get a laugh. There's a game of Whack-A-Rat somewhere and each episode has a car driving sequence, so try to keep to the road. However, you don't need razor sharp reflexes, just have fun and take note of your surroundings, something will surely come in handy.

Sam & Max Season One opens with a splash screen that gives access to all 6 episodes and you can sample any one of them, in any order, and even have them all going at once as they each save separately with a small graphic to remind you of where you are. However, the story does progress though all 6 episodes, so it's a very good idea to play them in order.

With the 6 episodes, from Culture Shock through to Bright Side of the Moon, Sam & Max Season One is a meal rather than a snack, and it's a hearty meal at that. Playing the episodes consecutively rather than staggering them brings that added zing because it helps to bring the story together. As well as the game there is also a full-size poster included in the package, plus a bonus disk with such extras as a trailer for each episode, some concept art, character bios, a link up to a comic generator at the Telltale site, a soundrack sampler, and interviews with 7 or so members of the Sam & Max team.

All in all it's a light hearted romp through a wacky world populated by some equally wacky characters. So if you're in the mood and on the same wavelength you'll enjoy Sam & Max Season One immensely. For me the humour worked a treat though it does reach down to some kiddies barfing gags at the end — tastefully done — honest! There's something here for everyone. Reality 2 with its role playing theme was the pick for me, but you can make your own pick and have a lot of fun doing it. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2007. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows XP/Vista, 1.5GHz processor, 256MB RAM, 32MB 3D accelerated video card,16x CD/DVD-ROM.