Released beginning in 2006 under an episodic release schedule, Sam & Max Save the World is the first Sam & Max release since Hit the Road, as well as one of Telltale Games' first major releases. Sam & Max Save the World consists of six episodes:
Episode 1: Culture Shock
Episode 2: Situation: Comedy
Episode 3: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball
Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die!
Episode 5: Reality 2.0
Episode 6: Bright Side of the Moon
Sam and Max Season One was initially distributed through GameTap, a subscription based PC gaming service, and followed by a worldwide release through Telltale Games' own website 15 days later. The series also saw a full release on Valve's Steam distribution service. A Wii version of the game was announced on April 4th 2008, and is a port of its PC counterpart, albeit with integrated motion controls. On February 26th 2009, Telltale announced the game would be released on XBLA with the new name of 'Sam & Max: Save the World' (rather than "Sam & Max Season One"), which released on June 17 of the same year.
Episode 4, "Abe Lincoln Must Die!", was made released for free through both Steam and Telltale's website, to promote the season. Following Telltale's closure, the game can no longer be downloaded from their website. As well, the episode's original store page is no longer accessible, however the episode can still be installed using Steam's install command.
On December 2, 2020, a remaster of Sam & Max Save the World was released on Steam, GOG, and Nintendo Switch. The remaster was created by Skunkape Games, a team comprised of former Telltale developers who had acquired the rights to Sam & Max as well as source materials from the game's original release. As well as remastering the game's visuals, the new release features reworked dialogue, alongside consulting from Sam & Max cartoonist Steve Purcell to guide the game's visuals and humor. Following the release of the game's remaster, the original Sam & Max Save the World was de-listed from Steam, however the original version of Save the World was reintroduced as free DLC for the remaster.
The primary gameplay in Sam and Max consists of leisurely walking around the Freelance Police officers' office and its city surroundings, such as a continuously career changing lady friend's office, Bosco's Inconvenience Store and various other locations, depending on the episode. Players are tasked with solving puzzles and answering riddles to advance the game's story, which shoots for the comical stars.
Pointing and clicking on an area allows the player to move Sam (Max follows without getting in the way), while "clicking/button pressing" examines specific objects, and adds them to your inventory as necessary. Items are often needed for later puzzles, so combining certain collected goods and inserting, dropping, or applying them to things will usually solve a good chunk of the game's puzzles. From Sam's revolver to a slice of cheese, the variety of collectibles is ridiculously varied.
There is also a driving component of the game, where the player controls the gas and side-to-side motion of Sam's police cruiser, while simultaneously integrating a combat mechanic using Sam's revolver. Shooting out baddies tires completes certain objectives, and also garners some angry remarks from civilian traffic. Innocents can be pulled over for speeding (or a busted tail light, should you decide to shoot it out) if players bore of driving aimlessly.
The dialogue system heavily influences the story, though in a linear fashion. Sam and Max will need to be quick on the tongue with witty dialogue to get the info they need, or out of a dilemma. Many puzzles center around this conversation mechanic, such as talking down crazed enemies, and immense trickery!