By Rob Wright
In the history of video games, there haven't been a lot of successful episodic gaming projects. Even more rare, perhaps, are comedic games built around slapstick humor and witty dialogue. That's what makes Telltale Games' Sam & Max Season One ($29.99) so special: it's arguably the best episodic series going, and also happens to be extremely funny.
Sam & Max: Season One includes all six episodes on DVD, plus the soundtrack on audio CD.
Based on Steve Purcell's beloved cult comic strip featuring a six-foot-tall canine detective named Sam and his hyperactive rabbit sidekick Max, the episodic series brings back the memorable detective duo after the 1993 LucasArts PC game Sam & Max Hit the Road. Telltale Games, which took over the Sam & Max franchise from LucasArts, decided against a single point-and-click adventure title. Instead, they've produced a series spanning six episodes, with intertwined stories and colorful characters battling an apparent government conspiracy involving hypnosis. This series combines traditional point-and-click gameplay, along with crazy puzzles, and even some driving sequences where Sam and Max take their 1960 DeSoto Adventurer out for a spin. Season One is also full of humorous voice acting, excellent comic timing and outrageous situations - as in Episode 4, where Sam & Max battle an enormous animated statue of Abraham Lincoln.
Telltale initially released each of the first six episodes digitally through GameTap, Steam, and its own Web site, but the developer also created a deluxe Complete Season One DVD package. It includes all six episodes of the first season, along with extra content: a "blooper reel," 18 machinima shorts, cut scene video reels with more than four hours of commentary tracks from the developers, a concept art montage video, Season One trailers and teasers, and 18 MP3 tracks from the Season One soundtrack (available seperately for $19.99). The entire package is available at a terrific price, and offers a great opportunity for gamers who missed the original digital releases earlier this year. With this nice package, gamers get the whole season in one go, and experience something they don't see a lot of these days: funny episodic gaming.
Gamers in search of something different, or those who like to exercise their senses of humor, will find this a great gift.