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Sam and Max: Season One (Wii) Review

Review for Sam and Max: Season One on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The PC adventure genre has slowly, but surely been crossing over onto Nintendo's Wii console thanks to the ease of transferring the mouse controls of point-and-click titles to the motion pointer movement made possible via the Wii Remote. Whilst the WiiWare download service has been treated to the relatively new idea of episodic content in this genre, with five separate chapters of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People launching in the last five or so months, the size restrictions placed upon developers meant that the six chunks of Sam & Max: Season One could not be transposed without too much hassle. Therefore, now all six are in one handy bundle for a retail release in Europe. But is this a case of too much of a good thing, or has Telltale Games struck gold?

Sam, a six-foot tall canine that stands on his back legs, and Max, a tiny, hyperactive rabbit-like creature with a giant grin, came into being way back in 1987, originating from the creative mind of Steve Purcell and rampaging onto the scene in comic book format. What followed was the iconic 1993 point-and-click adventure game from LucasArts 'Sam & Max Hit the Road, as well as a cartoon show to help expand the fan-base. Despite the success, LucasArts left the franchise dormant for too long due to fears the adventure genre was floundering. Therefore, eventually an agreement between Purcell, the holder of the character rights, and Telltale Games, which is made up of several ex-LucasArts members frustrated at the LA's decision to ditch point-and-click games, was made and the private investigating duo were finally set to get back on the right path. That is where Sam & Max: Season One on Wii comes in, a port of the six PC episodes released in 2006/7. As with the Strong Bad games, which are based upon a popular website, whilst there are certain in-jokes dotted throughout to please long-term fans, the majority of the six episodes included in this package do not heavily rely on the past, meaning that newcomers will have just as much fun uncovering the truth behind the mysterious hypnotism shenanigans that take centre stage in each mini adventure.

Sam & Max is indeed another amusing point-and-click adventure akin to Telltales WiiWare efforts, yet whilst Strong Bad's humour is extremely zany and way out there, Sam & Max is more sarcasm-based, full of dry wit and (as it likes to think) 'high brow' jokes. The writing is definitely sharp throughout, which helps to keep the player's interest…up to a point. You see the funniest jokes tend to be delivered naturally, often happening out of random occurrences without seeming forced. In Sam & Max, however, even though there are moments of hilarity, there are numerous misses that leave awkward silences, plus times when you will find being able to skip lines of text is a huge relief. On top of that, although the Wii motion controls are the perfect replacement for a PC's mouse (letting gamers easily switch between items necessary to solve puzzles, or interact with objects and other characters just like in any other sort of title in this genre), there are some unfortunate problems that tarnish the experience to some degree. For instance, there are many unexpected glitches and moments of slowdown that make this seem like a very quick port from its PC original, as opposed to a port project that had a lot of care and attention poured into it. This is also accompanied by some long loading times that honestly should not be present in this day and age, especially given the basic 3D modelling of characters and limited locations in each episode. Then, to top things off, there are moments where the last word of a sentence will not actually be spoken (a strange glitch, but not a case isolated to this review copy, you can be assured - it is a widespread issue with all retail versions).

Screenshot for Sam and Max: Season One on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

This comes as a real disappointment because, on the whole, all six episodes are ultimately enjoyable. From the general witty repartee between Sam and Max - Sam with his laid-back, care-free attitude, dry sense of humour and tendency for playful cruelty towards his partner, Max with his constant snarky comments and comical spates of downright stupidity - to the solid script writing, there is a lot of satisfaction with the exploits. Take the story itself: there is the over-arching conundrum of ever-persistent hypnotism issues arising that the self-proclaimed Freelance Police must get to the bottom of, yet at the same time each episode has its own yarn spun that sets it apart from the next one, allowing gamers to pick and choose which to play next, rather than being forced to stick to the specific numbered chapter order. During Sam & Max's journey, players will get to meet a giant Abraham Lincoln, head into cyber space where the protagonists are briefly returned to their 2D roots and must bring down the Internet, star in their own sitcom featuring a cow, deal with the mafia and much, much more. The scenarios are varied and wacky enough to retain interest throughout, so it is a shame about the technical glitches and occasions where jokes stumble and fall flat on their face.

The only other real criticism to be levelled at Season One is just how short and simple it is. After spending sufficient time with the first episode and then spotting numerous similarities in the way things continue and puzzles are solved in the second chapter, suddenly everything clicks into place so much that the remaining four episodes can likely be polished off in around an hour each for those proficient in the point-and-click adventure genre. Although some puzzles' solutions are more obtuse than others, there is not much of balance, with a heavy skew towards simplicity. With no reason to return to the game upon completion, nor any sort of extras that unlock afterwards, there is definitely a short life-span for the entire game, meaning that paying anything over £19.99/€29.99 is not particularly recommended. But the quirky humour, outlandish themes and admittedly fun puzzles will offer plenty of entertainment no matter how short-lived it is.

Screenshot for Sam and Max: Season One on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Fundamentally the old mechanic of 'Find Items A and B, Use Either With Thing C' works just as well as it did in games of this ilk two decades ago. The Wii Remote is a great replacement for the PC's mouse, but the game's pace is slow enough to cause much frustration in the long-term.

Graphics

Basic 3D character models and limited locales that all look presentable enough, but the moments of unexpected slowdown and long loading times spoil the party.

Sound

Very strong voice-work on the whole, yet an odd glitch results in the final word of some sentences not actually being spoken. In addition, the jazz-filled soundtrack is impressive, yet definitely not to everyone's taste.

Value

Having all six episodes in one package is definitely ideal as having to pay for each one separately would have been a waste of money considering how short they are. All on one disc, though, makes for a much sturdier experience, yet even then most gamers will have it finished in around 8-10 hours.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Sadly this PC-to-Wii port is not as polished as expected, with glitches that threaten to spoil the experience. Thankfully, though, the tried-and-tested point-and-click gameplay works once more, and it comes hand-in-hand with a witty script and some extremely creative scenarios to play through, thus alleviating many of the frustrations caused by technical issues. There may be times when the humour falls flat, but on the whole this proves to be a pleasure right until the end.

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15.02.2009

10

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Developer

Telltale

Publisher

The Adventure Company

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

I've been waiting for the Wii port before playing any of these, so it's a MASSIVE disappointment to hear of those technical issues. I'll probably still get it, though, to support point and click adventures!

Thanks for the review Adam. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It really left me confused at the end because I really enjoyed it, yet was very frustrated by the problems and some of the forced jokes and long-winded conversations left a bad taste.

I've heard Season Two sorts out many of the general issues, as well as fleshing the who adventure out more, which is good news.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Disappointing to hear about the port issues, but good to see it's been a decent translation to the Wii. Will probably pick it up sometime on the cheap if poss

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's seems like a real quick and dirty port, but the class just about manages to shine through. There are several places selling it for less than 20 quid, which isn't bad.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Staff Member

£12 at most GAME stores. I've been wondering whether to take the plunge or not. Smilie


Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Wow, that's so cheap! For that price you should definitely get it!!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Right, I'm going to GAME!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Considering the price I sold my used review copy for on eBay, I'm off to GAME as well to make a nice profit Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Phoenixus said:
£12 at most GAME stores. I've been wondering whether to take the plunge or not. Smilie

£12-squid? Not bad at all, may consider it at that price!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I used to watch the cartoon when I was a kid. The game looks a lot like the first series. The graphics are really well done. And I hope that they have the same voice actors when the show was on T.V.



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