Sam & Max, everyone’s favourite freelance dog and rabbit, are back once again for their latest instalment on Xbox LIVE Arcade. As usual in the zany world of Sam & Max, everything is a little on the side of crazy, so expect the wonderful and whimsical ideals of story tales (some real stories of course) to be slightly altered as Sam & Max save Christmas from an Uzi wielding Santa Clause, the world by clever use Bermuda triangles, prevent dastardly Zombie attacks and more! In the words of the freelance police Sam, holy jumping weasel fritters on a hot cross bun!
As with most games of the adventure genre you will make use of a magical cursor, in this case a hand, which you will interact with the world around you in order to examine objects, solve puzzles and progress through the game. Be wary that adventure games are text heavy and due to twisted, evil puzzles are typically not for the faint hearted. Saying that, some (such as me) adore the genre and welcome each and every attempt to bring back the glory that was the much famed Lucasarts days. Telltale games are making every step to do just that.
As set by the previous season ‘Sam & Max: Save the World’, the package comes in at 1600 points for 5 episodes. Whilst this is a large and alarming price tag, if you have ever played a single episode, you will know that your money is being well invested as each and everyone one will take several hours to complete – to the point where the season as a bundle easily outlasts most retail game releases at £40.
Value is evident, but what about gameplay? The main concern with the first season was the heavy use of copy and pasting with most episodes looking and feeling very similar to the previous, no doubt due to a need for fast development and small file size in keeping it ‘episodic’. Since XBLA doesn’t distribute the series in the same format as PC, the pinch of repeated assets is felt a lot more. Thankfully there is a clear improvement as whilst each and every episode houses familiar graphical and code assets, you are always whisked off somewhere new and fancy at some point with largely the focus of the episode being at these points.
Graphical the game is certainly appealing and benefits well from sitting alongside ‘arcade’ titles, which generally look far worse and don’t possess such fully fledged 3D environments as Sam & Max. Whilst this is the case, it’s a hard judgement as the game is technically a retail game, with a retail download size, with a cheap price and placed in the arcade section. None the less you will be hard to find a 3D game of the adventure genre of similar graphical quality, let alone a fully fledged adventure game like this at all on Xbox 360. The game's audio falls on a similar page needing to constrain to file restraints, but none the less the voice acting is superb, with each and every line of witty dialogue spoken out.
As concluded with the first instalment, and now to be concluded again for the second, Sam & Max is a welcome addition to the sparse genre that certainly deserves of a return. Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space takes the right steps to improve upon the original, whilst still keeping everything that worked the first time around intact. I hope that Telltale are doing well from the series on consoles, and can only hope that they continue to bring the once PC only series to XBLA. Max, You crack me up little buddy.
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