Sam & Max: Season One

Format: PC
Jowood Games

9 006113 148807
Age Restrictions: 12+
31 August 2007

Sam is a six foot dog with a rather large gun; Max is a rabbit on the wrong side of lunatic. Together, in their 1960 Desoto Adventurer, these private investigators tackle crimes most foul in their own inimical way...

Sam and Max started life as a comic book, created by Steve Purcell, although never the huge commercial success that it deserved, it remained popular with the fans. The pair then started popping up in Lucas Arts games until they were given their own graphical adventure, Sam and Max Hit the Road (1993). The original game was good enough for Lucas Arts to plan another, though this was sadly cancelled.

Telltale bought the franchise and started to produce downloadable games. These have now been gathered together as Sam and Max: Season One. If however you just want to dip your toe in, Telltale still sells the episodes individually on their web site. It would be cheaper but then you would be missing out on all the excellent bonus material.

For those of you who have never played a Sam and Max game (I really can't bring myself to abbreviate it to S&M) they are essentially irreverent point and click adventures. The graphics on Hit the Road were good for the time; I still have my original copy somewhere. However, Telltale has dramatically updated the graphics so that they look more like an upmarket animation. Movement is very smooth even on my laptop. If, however, the game appears to be running slow you have the option to downgrade various elements.

As the games were originally published on the net, this disc contains six medium sized games and, whilst they have similar themes, they can't quite be considered as one long game. Still that's no bad thing as it means that you can play the adventures in any order. As the title would suggest, the publishers would like you to think of this as six episodes of the first season, akin to a DVD box set.

The extras disc is jam packed with everything a discerning Sam and Max fan could want. Eighteen pieces of the original music are available to either play or rip - I feel a Sam and Max ring tone coming on - as well as seven wallpapers in four to six different sizes. You get a rather nifty link to a web comic and twenty-two pieces of concept art. For those of you new to the world of Sam and Max there is a PDF with the main characters bios and if you're feeling particularly talented a link is provided for the comic generator. Like any self respecting TV show Sam and Max has trailers for each of the episode which you can view to give you an idea of which adventure to start with. If that were not enough there is a Making of featurette (9 min 7 sec).

Irreverent, laugh out loud funny and surreal are just some of the attributes of the best game to come out in a long time. The only oddity is that there is no Wii version, only PC, when Sam and Max would go down a storm on a machine that already has the likes of Raving Rabbits.

The voice acting is superb throughout and, for those that either like or require it, the game comes with optional subtitles, which turned out to be very useful as I could play the game in my living room without disturbing anyone else. As a bonus the game can also be played in a window for those having a sneaky play at work.

From the quality of the animation, the scripts and the dialogue Telltale have produced something which is just shy of an essential purchase, now if they could only come up with a version for the Wii.

Charles Packer

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