Sam & Max: Episode 1 – Culture Shock

October 23, 2006

Adventure game fans, rejoice. No longer must DOSBOX be the only application on your computer that lets you enjoy a classic adventure game. After 13 years, the bad boys of the adventure genre are back. A new Sam and Max game has been a long time in coming, suffering multiple cancellations by Lucasarts, some time in limbo, and finally ending up with a development team that actually realized what it had. It’s new, it’s pretty, it’s episodic, and holy sasquatch on a hot sunday morning, it’s funny.

[i]Sam and Max: Culture Shock[/i] is the first episode in a series of new Sam and Max games. Instead of creating an epic story that spans hours and hours of gameplay, Telltale games has decided to release Sam and Max in discrete, self contained episodes. There are a few ways you can get this game. You can buy each episode individually when they are released for $8.95, a season pass for $34.95 (Which includes a disc at the end of the season) or use your GameTap subscription. Whatever way you decide that you want to play this game, if you like adventure games, you are in for a treat.

The jump to 3D for most adventure games is ridiculously clunky. Escape from Monkey Island is a prime example. Sam and Max : [i]Culture Shock[/i] is, in contrast, a joy to play. In fact, it emulates perfectly a 2D point and click interface, albeit with 3D graphics. Anyone who has played the original or any Lucasarts adventure game will feel right at home. Everyone else will pick it up in no time. The graphics are mostly great, with a few blurry textures here and there. Nothing too distracting. Everything looks like it should, especially the characters. Hell, even the office looks untouched from its 2-D roots. Some may be disappointed, however, by the voices used for the characters. Not that they are necessarily bad, but they are not the same voice actors from either the original game or the cartoon. Sam’s voice sounds pretty good, but Max’s lacks a little of the sardonic attitude that makes his character so funny. I hope in future episodes that they work on Max’s delivery.

Don’t get me wrong, though, the dialogue is hilarious. It all feels distinctly Sam and Max. From Sam’s exclamations to Max’s sadistic take on… everything. Their love of violence has not changed either. This is probably the funniest game I have played in years. The puzzles suffer a little bit from the episodic nature of the games. Since the games are short, you are using most items that you pick up right when you get them. This does make the adventure a little more straight forward and the puzzles a little less convoluted, but it also makes the game pretty easy. Seasoned adventure gamers will breeze through [i]Culture Shock[/i] in a little over 2 or 3 hours. [i]Culture Shock[/i] feels short, but it works. It is very comparable to a tv episode, in fact. You sit down, you play it, and then when it’s over, you can’t wait for the next one.

[i]Sam and Max: Culture Shock[/i] is a game that anyone can play and get into. It’s fun, it’s pretty, and hot damn, it’s refreshing. I look forward to seeing how Telltale plays out the upcoming episodes. If you played Sam and Max back in the day, you owe it to yourself to get this game. Go. Now. What are you waiting for?

Score: 5/5

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