Max: Multiple reports of malfeasance across the neighbourhood.
Sam: Oh joy! That’s my second favourite feasance!
-Sam & Max, Episode 1: Culture Shock
Great gouts of magma on a beeline for the orphanage, Sam & Max are back in town! Max the anthropomorphic dog and his partner Sam, the hyperkinetic rabbity thing are sleuthing through a not-so-noir parody of American pop culture once more. You should (but probably don’t) know them from the classic LucasArts adventure games of old. The truth is there hasn’t been a great adventure game since Grim Fandango, but this could well break the trend with many of the same developers who worked on “Sam & Max Hit The Road”. This time the tenacious twosome (“dynamic duo” sounds far too crass for their hilarious brand of razor-sharp wisecracking smart-arsery) are smoothly rendered in 3 dimensions and have gone episodic, with a five new releases spread over the next several months. “An episodic sociopathic lagomorph,” Max verbosely observes in the trailer. Laconic, they are not. Tightly written as ever, maybe things are looking up for those who, like me, bemoan the loss of humour in videogames.
This is not a game that will tax your hand eye coordination or ability to mash buttons, simply your ability to think, well, horizontally. Head over and try out the free demo as a quick distraction. I promise it’s worth your time. Better yet, although individual episodes retail at $8.95 (plus tax), you can pick up the whole season of 6 for just $34.95 (again, plus tax), a little over £20. I remain sceptical about the wisdom in dividing the experience into chunks of a few hours gameplay, but within a single scene it feels great to be back with such esoteric and unique characters as the pair of private detectives, or “freelance police” as they prefer. A veritable bargain and capricious jocular entertainment to boot? The mind boggles, Sam…