Sam and Max, Season One

samnmax-psychiatristAh, Sam and Max: absurd and grotesque, snappy and cynical. Their humor is always at least partly grounded in their horribleness. I’m a fan of theirs from way back, even from before their first adventure game in 1993, or their cameos in various other Lucasarts titles. Back when they were an obscure indie comic book.

So you might think I’d be among the first to snap up the newer episodic Sam and Max games. But I didn’t, because I was wary of Telltale Games. I had played Telltale’s first adventure, an adaptation of the comic book Bone, and found it disappointing. The adventure content was minimal, as was the interactive detail: the bulk of the player’s time was spent on a series of lame mini-games shoehorned onto a story that didn’t really want them. And when I say “series of lame mini-games”, the part that bothers me the most isn’t the “lame”, but the “series”: the game was very linear, following the source material very closely. Most of the time, there was only one thing to do.

But the Sam and Max games aren’t adaptations of existing Sam and Max stories, and thus avoid a lot of the difficulties of adaptation. (Even the 1993 game, Sam and Max Hit the Road, which took a lot of its ideas from the “Surfing the Highway” comic, has an original story.) I’ve played through the first episode by now, and it’s got classical adventure game structure: after a brief prologue in a constrained area, it sets the player loose in the main game area with three major goals to pursue simultaneously and independently, followed by another, smaller set of three goals, followed by an endgame. And some of those subgoals provide good “Aha!” moments.

So, currently, I’m pleased. I’ll see if I can get through episode 2 tomorrow and try to spot common patterns. It really seems like each episode wants to be completed in a single sitting.

1 Comment so far

  1. malkav11 on 20 Jun 2008

    I will say that if you’re enjoying the early part of season one, you’re in for some seriously good times down the road.

    And I also wasn’t impressed by the Bone adventure(s). I love the Bone comics, but wasn’t sure how they’d translate to adventure games. And, well, they don’t really.

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