PC, Nintendo Switch
December 3, 2020
Gather round ye old and young gamers and let me tell ye the tale of why Sam & Max Save The World Remastered was such a nostalgic trip for me. Along with Day of the Tentacle, another game originally developed by TellTale Games, Sam & Max Hit The Road was my favourite PC game as a kid. Before then I was strictly a pinball wizard, as that’s the only game my dad had on his Mac. But when he brought home Sam & Max, pinball looked like child’s play.
2020 has been a rough ride for me along with the majority of the population. I felt like I needed a game that was going to give me warm, fuzzy and safe feelings, like eating a big bowl of chicken soup when you have the sniffles. I wanted Sam & Max to teleport me to a time when things were simpler, like when my anxiety was related to whether I would get home in time to watch 90210 rather than whether I could get my mortgage paid. As soon as I loaded up the game, heard the jazzy soundtrack and saw the comic book style graphics, I was sent back to 1993…
“They’re freelance detectives so the cases they receive are always a bit wacky and weird… just like Sam and Max themselves.”
In 1993 Sam & Max Hit the Road was released and I fell in love with the detective duo. I never got around to playing 2006/7’s Sam & Max Save The World, so playing this remaster was even more of a treat.
For those who aren’t aware of the world of Sam & Max, they are a detective duo made up of a cartoon dog and rabbit respectively. Sam is more of a Columbo style private eye, equipped with a grey suit, fedora and a laid back attitude. Max on the other hand can’t stand still and is always coming up with wisecracks. The special thing about these two is their love and respect for each other and how well they riff even though they have such different personalities.
These personalities also fit in with the world’s surrealist humour. It’s a world where hypnotism can be battled by wearing a hat made out of a colander and bent clothes hanger, where people can change their skin colour just by reading a book and rats hold items for ransom.
The point and click adventure originally came out episodically over 2006-7 and the remaster stays true to the episode format, though every episode is released at once in the remaster. Each instalment focuses on a different case that comes through the duo’s landline phone in their office. They’re freelance detectives so the cases they receive are always a bit wacky and weird… just like Sam & Max themselves.
Though Sam & Max focuses on two detectives, the gameplay isn’t action-heavy. It’s all about the gags, the narrative and the puzzles rather than the gun that Sam wears on his holster. Sure, you’ll use your gun sometimes, but it’s mainly for performing one-shot hits rather than chasing down and shooting crooks.
Instead, you need to use your wits and the objects scattered in various parts of the world to help you move the narrative along. For example, if the duo needs to give a certain character an item, you have to find the item somewhere within the world. You may have to chase down some rats to get it, or knock out a couple of ex-teen stars, or shoot a bunch of cheese to get what you need. Either way, the method will not be a “typical” one. Therefore, the most far-out method you could think of will probably be the option that will get you the object in question.
The world itself, though colourful, can be quiet small and repetitive. You do get to ride around to other locations in Sam & Max’s signature wheels, The DeSoto, which was made by Chrysler in the 20s and looks like a Cadillac the Addams Family would drive around in. However, usually, you do have to go back to the “main” area of the game which consists of your detective office, Bosco’s Inconvenience convenience store (see what they did there?) and Sybil Pandemik’s office. Pandemik changes her profession frequently throughout the game so you may catch her being a tattooist, or a psychiatrist or a tabloid journalist. These areas pretty much stay the same and traversing them constantly gets a bit tiresome after a while.
Seeing as this is a remaster, it would be sacrilegious to not compare the 2006 and 2020 versions. The graphics have been very much touched up, with a lot of effort put into shadowing and realistic colours. There has been a bit of a controversy lately due to developers Skunkape Games changing some of the dialogue to be more “2020 appropriate.” Some purists are angry at the devs as they stated before the game was released that they wouldn’t be making any dialogue changes other than some timing which was changed to make the dialogue funnier. I’ve read some of the changes that they’ve made and the original dialogue is indeed problematic. So instead of being disappointed in Skunkape like a lot of Sam & Max players are, I’m actually going to say kudos to them for cleaning up the dialogue that they realised was problematic.
Though the jokes have been cleaned up, they may not be funny to some players. I myself didn’t find them hilarious, but then again, humour is so subjective. There was a few times that I chuckled, and the humour can be quite witty and smart, but a lot of the time it falls in the dad joke/potty humour realm. There’s nothing wrong with that but it may not make every single player LOL.
Though I didn’t find it extremely funny, I did find it very fun. And though the former isn’t a deal-breaker when playing games, failing to provide the latter most certainly is.
- Gameplay is simple yet fun
- Characters are eccentric and intruging
- Puzzles make you run with the wackiest option
- Remastered graphics are a big improvements from the original
- Game's humour may not be for everyone
- Settings are repetitive
Sam & Max Save The World Remastered is a fun, quirky, laid back experience. Its slapstick “doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously” vibe lends to a carefree playthrough with puzzles that encourage you to act on your most outrageous thoughts. Players may get sick of the minimal settings and the humour may grate on some, but Sam & Max is a game that if you’re not too fussed with the steady gameplay pace, will make everyone smile. Whether it be at the corniness of the jokes, the cuteness of the psychotic Max or the names of the streets/products littered around the world (connecting streets called “straight” and “narrow” for instance), something is guaranteed to make you chuckle and say under your breath “ahh, that was a good one!”
Sam & Max Save The World Remastered looks damn good whilst being charming and super fun to play. For those who love a smart point and click narrative that is super chill and doesn’t take itself one bit seriously, this one has your name all over it!