Anybody who has played the famous LucasArts adventure games in the 90s knows about the insane freelance detectives Sam & Max. Known for their great humor, the series is one of the most popular and successful adventure series, even getting a television cartoon series. Unfortunately, the series has been all but forgotten along with the rest of the adventure genre for several years until Telltale Games decided to reintroduce gamers to the adventure genre in episodic manner, with their first revival being the Sam and Max series. Since then, Sam and Max have gotten 2 seasons, with 11 total episodes. Initially released on the PC, the completed seasons are then carried over to the 360. Does the series still have some spunk, and does the 360 version hinder the experience?
Gameplay is as simple as games get. You guide the twosome around by clicking on whatever area with your pointer. That same pointer will also select items in your inventory as well as choose different lines of dialogue. The variety comes in the different minigames from a punch out knockoff to running over dolls with your car in the name of fun and prizes. The main hook of this game, and most adventure games in general, is problem solving. With that said, the beauty is in its simplicity. There isn’t much on a curve on the 360 version, using the joystick to move the pointer around and pressing to interact. There are shortcut keys also mapped, but you can pretty much play through the game with one button.
Graphically, the game sticks to a simple design aesthetic that allowed it to be run on most computers when it first came out. The result is a simple, vibrant color palette with an exaggerated stylish art direction that gives the game its unique look, with spot on lip syncing and generally well done animation. This is compounded on the great voice work from all the characters in the game. Each character’s voice is unique and delivered well to give each character their distinct personality, whether they are from every episode or just a quick few one-liners. The music in the game is simple, and can be catchy at times. The game does falter a bit from some weird issues with pauses when transitioning between cutscenes and gameplay, which could be issues from porting.
The biggest hook of the game, along with its zany cast of characters story, is the amount of content that comes in for the price of 1600 points. You get 5 episodes, each with a few hours give or take, for what could be considered a bargain, compared to buying them individually on PC before they were compiled together. They can be played in any order, though they do follow an overarching story arc that culminates in the final episode. If anything, it’s akin to playing an interactive TV series, and that’s not a bad thing for this series.
With its second season, its safe to say that Sam and Max has found its groove in this current generation of gaming, delivering a refreshing change of pace from the standard gameplay types that some gamers, including myself, can get tired of every once in a while. Jarring a few technical hitches, the 360 port plays well and definitely opens up the series to more potential fans that could be looking for something different. At the price at 1600 points, it may come off as steep compared to other XBLA games, but is actually quite a deal in comparison to its original price. It’s good to see some old faces come back in new format, which ultimately works out best for the genre. With that said, I’m looking forward to see what else the Freelance Police will end up destroying next.
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