modeps's Sam & Max: Save The World (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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Sam & Max: Save the World Review

True adventure games, for a time, were all the rage and dominated the gaming landscape. The evolution went something like all text based (Infocom), to text and graphics (Sierra On-Line), to point and click (LucasArts), then they practically fell off the face of the earth when First Person Shooters blazed onto the scene. With the emergence of consoles, there have been plenty of adventure games created which use different ways to tell the story and trying to blaze new paths. These often put of an more action element in (Metal Gear?!), but now a company called Telltale games is looking to bring the genre back as they once existed, with all trappings and annoyances fully intact.

Sam & Max: Save the World is actually a series of episodic games originally released on the PC in one package for Xbox Live Arcade. With it, you'll get six somewhat self-contained point-and-click adventures, each with a constant theme that exists to tie them all together. They share locations, assets, characters and voices. Noting that this is a port from the PC is very important as it is still a point-a-click adventure game. Instead of trying to shoehorn some other control scheme on top of this very mouse specific title, Telltale opted to just have your 360's gamepad control a cursor just as if you were moving it with a mouse, just way less accurate. While this may very well be the best approach for the type of game, it completely sucks. What exacerbates the issue is that often you'll find yourself trying to click on a very small item, or locate a hidden object somewhere on the screen.

The entire game focuses on item finding in a scavenger/pixel hunt kind of way, then taking those objects and combining them with the people and places in the world to advance the story along. You control Sam by clicking around the environment while his evil bunny sidekick Max follows you around. The biggest problem here is that more often than not, you're stuck scratching your head as to what you should do next and spend plenty of time just clicking around and trying different items with different people trying to get a reaction. Some of the item combinations are clear as day, others... not so much.

In terms of visuals, Telltale has kept very close to the original game while bringing it into three dimensions; its all very whimsical and cute and there are plenty of sight gags laying around. One thing that I felt was odd was that there are clear issues with the engine. While most of the game runs silky smooth, it will stutter in the same spots all the time. Make sure you watch for it when leaving your office. Technical issues aside, the world (as small as it is) is well realized and nicely designed and the characters do all have a bit of charm on their own.

But of course, you don't play these games for the gameplay, you play them for the humor and the story right? Well, even when I made it past the control issues, I found the majority of the one liners to be somewhat forced and uninspired only laughing to myself a few times. The later episodes do a much better job at delivering the material (Reality 2.0 was probably the best of the bunch). Using the stock audio options as well, the horn heavy soundtrack would often drown out the character dialog at particularly "action filled" moments. Your exploits as Sam and Max will let you see your local block plenty of times, talking to the same people, and traveling to one unique environment per episode as you foil dastardly plots by some crazy folks and ultimately as the title states, save the world.

Conversations in the game are handled in your typical dialog tree fashion where you may as well just select every option from the menu as long as you're not trying to respond in a particular way. This is where one of the old trappings rears its ugly head. If a particular conversation is important, and you screw it up, you'll get to hear the exact same bit of dialog delivered in the exact same way over and over as you simply try other dialog choices. They're not going to let you fail because the very linear time line will never advance if you do. Keep in mind that the B button will let you skip over dialog... or you'll probably go insane.

That's about all there is to it. Giving away much more would be ruining the only thing this game may have going for it (the plot). Its been mentioned before that creating humor in video games is a difficult thing to pull off, and when you're banking on dialog to drive your game but it doesn't resonate with the player (me) you've got a tired, archaic, and downright boring game. I admire what Telltale is trying to do, and being a huge player of many adventure games in my youth, in theory it sounds like something I would have been all for. I can't help but think though that this type of game does not have a place in the current landscape of titles. Do yourself a favor and try the demo first, if you dig the humor and the characters, there's a great chance you will like this game. I however, didn't.

The Good
  • Looks pretty good
  • Lots of content for your dollar
The Bad
  • Forced humor is very hit or miss
  • Tedious interface and dated design
  • Framerate hitches a bit too much for something as fixed as this
The Ugly
  • There's a reason that people don't make games like this anymore

Other reviews for Sam & Max: Save The World (Xbox 360 Games Store)

    Well worth the price. 0

    Sam & Max: Save the World, just released on Live Arcade, is the latest point-and-click adventure game from Telltale to show up on the Xbox Live Arcade, and is based off of Sam & Max: Season One that was released for the PC in 2006-2007. It boasts six unique episodes for only $20; and thanks to its humor, it’s well worth that price. Point-and-Click games are rarely seen on consoles, due to the natural thought of a mouse instead of using an analog stick to drag a cursor across the screen....

    1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

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