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Sam & Max Go to Pieces
preview
game: Sam & Max Season One
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Telltale Games
developer: Telltale Games
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date posted: 12:49 PM Wed Sep 6th, 2006
last revision: 05:00 PM Wed Sep 6th, 2006


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Click to read.It's difficult advertising a mature adventure game to the gaming population not because many gamers would dislike the game, but because, for many, mature and adventure don't really go together. But Sam & Max developer Telltale Games is looking to break through to the mature adventure crowd with budget episodic content (around $10 per episode) over the course of 6 months.

Like Grim Fandango (also from Telltale Games), and the Monkey Island series, Sam & Max is an adventure game that has you talking to people, solving problems, and enjoying the game's wit and humor. Point and click is back and humor is the flavor of the day in Sam & Max.

The iconic characters, from the comic by Steve Purcell, have captured many, many fans over the years - either due to the comic, the short-lived TV series, or the awesome Sam & Max videogame "Sam & Max: Hit the Road." They both have their own ways of dealing with crime: Max, the trench-coat-wearing, anthropomorphic dog prefers an oversized revolver, while Sam the "hyperkinetic rabbity thing" (or Logomorph, if you prefer) dons a big razor-sharp-teeth-sporting smile, and prefers anything and everything overtly-violent.

The noir influence on Sam & Max is obvious, given the characters' professions (detectives, or, as they say, "freelance police"), but the game, like the comic book, is best described as a social satire. First, we have a dog and a "hyperkinetic rabbity thing" solving crimes. The crimes are often ludicrous to begin with - tempting ludicrousness is a trademark of adventure games, I've noticed. For example, in Bosco's Inconvenience Store a former-child-star-gone-bad is setting up mind-altering videotapes. Second, many of the iconic neighborhood characters (convenience store clerk, diner cook, etc.) are seedy representations of real-world employment. Third, the game's just plain crazy: our real world is still comparative in insanity.

The story of Episode 1: as the ex-childhood-stars appear in the game - harboring bad memories of being ousted from fame & fortune - each spout catch phrases they had in their heyday. And each sounds awfully ironic when Sam & Max get through with them. These former child-stars, once known as the "Soda Poppers," are seemingly working in tangent with a mysterious third party for some dark purpose. Of course, Sam & Max step in to deal with the culprits in their own, let us say, unconventional ways.

Fans of the cancelled TV series "Sam & Max: Freelance Police" will be getting their jokes in October. Episode 2 will be released, says CEO of Telltale Games Dan Connors, two months after (that'd be December), and they will continue releasing a game a month until April. All-in-all, that's a six-part episodic PC game - which has never been done before - and will be released first via GameTap.com in accord with an exclusive deal, later by Telltale's website, and then, after the series ends, we'll see it on store shelves much like TV series' to DVD.

Each episode will have around 2-3 hours of content, and will be built around an in-house 3D engine. Of course, if you're anything like me, you have to go through each and every bit of text in an adventure game and string it out as long as possible. "We were going for a cinematic approach," said Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale Games, when we took a look at episode one in the halls of PAX.

Much of the game we saw was very close to the finished product, excepting black unfinished graphical blobs that'll certainly go away in the final product. The voice acting, the animations, and the humor that you expect from Sam & Max was all there. I'm confident that Telltale Games will easily be able to polish up what needs polish before release. The game might not be far from release, but remember that it's coming in electronic form (digital distribution) which allows game makers to work with much closer release dates.

Fans of adventure games and fans of Sam & Max now have reason to dance in the street. The first Episode is just two months away, the rest awaits your approval.

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EDIT: This preview originally stated that each episode of S&M would be 10 hours, but that was incorrect. It's around 2-3 hours depending of the episode. Each will be a differing length.

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