Guest Author - James Shea
A revival of the old LucasArts adventure game "Sam and Max Hit the Road", the new "Sam and Max" games are new, shorter adventures released periodically on the GameTap downloading service. Currently, they're on the second season - the first one consisted of six episodes, each of which takes between 2 and 3 hours to beat (on average). With a classic crossing of LucasArts' humor from their old adventure games (the other famous series being, of course, Monkey Island) and updated, cartoonish graphics, Sam and Max delivers more content for an already great download service.
The episodes are self-contained adventures, each dealing with independent cases. However, they all intersect - beating one gives you a lead-in to another one, and the cases reference past cases as well. There are a lot of recurring characters - besides the case-specific locations, the main area is Sam and Max's street, which contains their office, a tattoo parlor turned psychotherapist's office turned a multitude of other professions in every episode, and an inconvenience store. Most of the gameplay is classic adventure style exploring and clicking on items. The puzzles are mostly about using items on the right things or right people. These range from fairly simple to deviously difficult, but all are fairly straightforward at the least (most of the harder puzzles involve thinking about where a particularly ridiculous item would be found, such as "Where am I going to get some tomato paste? I need it to poison this cake!"). You, the player, are Sam, the canine detective, and your rabbit buddy Max is "computer controlled" (meaning he wanders around and doesn't do much except in certain scenarios; he'll wander around the map, and if he gets in Sam's way Sam will cartoonishly smack him to the side.). Besides picking up and using items, you can talk to people - most conversations are just Sam talking using a menu of subject material, but sometimes Max has a menu of subjects open up as well. There's no way to "lose" - I've never been cut off without the possibility of succeeding, so usually it's just a case of being inventive with the game's ridiculous logic and physics. All in all, it's just a whole lot of fun.
The graphics and sound are top-notch, conveying the madcap cartoonishness of the setting. The visuals are clear and items are easy to spot - no "pixel hunts" in this game. The camera angles are a little weird sometimes, but they're static, at least, so there's no "camera gets stuck in a wall" stuff happening.
The episodic content makes for short, quickly releasable games. Personally I feel that this was a great idea - the cases are short enough to keep your attention, but long enough to be entertaining. As a whole, these games are a solid package, and as a bonus it's nice to have the revival of a beloved classic game.
This game definitely merits a 10/10.
Sam and Max Walkthrough