Welcome home Sam & Max!
Sam and Max were originally conceived in the twisted mind of young Steve Purcell, as a dog and rabbit duo of vigilante-style private investigators. Sam, an Irish wolfhound, is the brains of the outfit and a suit-wearing throwback to a bygone era. Max is a “hyperkinetic, three-foot rabbity thing”, who cares not for rules and is the kind of guy that Alfred Pennyworth was talking about when he said, “Some men just want to watch the world burn”. Despite their differences, the twosome make up the world’s first and only Freelance Police agency, and spend all of their time solving bizarre and random crimes that seemingly fall under the regular cops radar.
The characters would appear as early as 1987, but would go on to be most fondly remembered as the stars of a series of graphic adventure video games, including the phenomenal Sam & Max Hit the Road and its sequel Sam & Max Save the World, which was released episodically between 2006 and 2007. Since then, the Freelance Police have featured in comic books, had a TV show, and were given their very own action figures in 2019. For the last decade though, the pair have been very quiet on the video games front. Until now.
Fast forward to 2020 – the year where everything went to Hell – and Skunkape has surprised us all with an unexpected HD remaster of Sam & Max Save the World, and released its insanity upon both the Nintendo Switch and Steam just in time for Christmas. Not a bad way to end the year.
So what’s it all about?
We’re glad you asked. It’s just an average day in the lives of Sam and Max as they do whatever it is that Freelance Police do when business is slow. But before they have time to get bored, they are hurled kicking and screaming into a city-wide conspiracy involving former pint-sized child actors running amok on the duos patch. What do these redundant child stars want? Who is controlling them? Have you given up reading after such a lengthy build-up?
The Sam & Max Save the Day Remaster includes enhanced graphics and all-new artwork drawn by Purcell, Joy-Con and touch screen support. There’s also an original score with five new tracks not previously featured in the original 2006 release, and an option to skip between instalments making it much more accessible for those with short attention spans… oooh look, a shiny thing!
Everything you loved about the game the first time around is still here, it just looks and sounds a little sexier.
The same 3D animation pops out of the screen at you like you’re experiencing a comic book strip first hand, and the original David Nowlin and William Kasten voicework. We can only assume the original Andrew Chaikin dub from the first episode has also been kept in, though we’ve not spotted anything to confirm this thus far.
Gameplay is very similar to anything you’d expect from a company like Skunkape, especially as they were founded by former Telltale big-cheese Dan Connors. The Sam & Max titles were early attempts to make players interact with everything on screen, and that’s as true here as it ever was. Lots of us probably remember playing this on the Wii so it won’t be too much of a shock to the system reliving this docked and via your television. But if that’s not your bag then the enhanced touch screen allows you to get your grubby little digits all over the peripherals in search of clues. Yummy.
There are tons of puzzle games on the Switch, but don’t be fooled into thinking that means you’re ready for Sam & Max Save the Day. The mind-bending puzzles are as tough on the old noodle as they were 14 years ago, and no amount of playing Professor Layton is going to change that. However, where some puzzle games will have you launching your handset at the Christmas tree, Sam & Max Save the Day is the kind of game you don’t mind spending a little time on, which is really saying something in today’s market where it’s so easy to move on to the next big thing.
We nearly wet the bed when we heard about Sam & Max Save the Day getting a new lease of life on Nintendo Switch and Steam, and bribed as many important people as we could to ensure we ended up with a copy. Fortunately, this writer has enough polaroid’s of TBG founder theFlamey in only his underpants that he was able to make this a reality – and we’re all so thankful he did.
The Switch seems to be a place where old school games are given a second chance to shine – just look at Toejam & Earl – so we’re delighted that Skunkape chose such an iconic due to give the HD treatment. We’d call it a Christmas miracle, but let’s be honest, we’ve been extremely nice this year so we deserve such a treat to carry us into the new year.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 02/12/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Skunkape Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop