In the world of point and click adventure games one name is heard high above the rest. Telltale Games, now noted for their great successes in the Tales of Monkey Island and Wallace and Gromit series of games, are also responsible for the greatly revered Sam and Max franchise.
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
. 22, 2009
The studio released “Sam and Max: Beyond Time and Space” on the Xbox Live Arcade earlier this month, and the entire package, which contains all of season 2 (five episodes), is the same series you played in 2007 and 2008 on the PC, but don’t stop reading here.
With updated high-definition graphics, Achievement support, and many, many hours of gameplay, “Beyond Time and Space” is a truly excellent adventure game, and one that fans of the series cannot miss.
“Beyond Time and Space” consists of five original episodes, also known as Season 2 in the Sam and Max series. You play as Sam and Max, the oddest of odd couples. Sam is a suit-wearing, upright walking, canine, and Max, he seems to be a rabbit of sorts. The two embark upon numerous and varied quests in order to save the five chapters, and as crazy and nonsensical as the objectives may seem, the quirky and odd recipe works very well.
You might think making the transition from the ease of access PC controls (mouse and keyboard), to the singular Xbox 360 controller might cause a tad distress, but no, this isn’t the case. In the game you don’t play as Sam or Max, rather you point in the direction you’d like Sam to travel, and he walks there. Apart from a few finicky happenstances, this control method works just fine. Clicking on the game’s many tiny items call for a steady hand, and after just a very short acclimation phase, you’ll be ready to solve crimes with the best of “Ëœem.
Without getting into specifics, as this review would morph into 4,000 words, the five episodes, dubbed Ice Station Santa, Maoi Better Blues, Night of The Raving Dead, Chariot of the Dogs, and What’s new Beezelbub?, take our vigilante crime fighters to the ends of the earth and back. You’ll tackle a automatic rifle-wielding Santa, a Tourrettes-inflicted mouse, birthday wishing Mariachi bands, and cold, dead vampires, just to name a very few.‚ “Beyond Time and Space” is the epitome of adventure gaming. Anything is possible, and I was surprised, scared, and emotionally-stricken on numerous occasions throughout my play-through. For as crazy and nonsensical as the stories are, their respective plot-lines are surprisingly understandable and engaging.
You can play any of the five episodes from the beginning, and although I didn’t, you could play number 5 first and work your way backwards, but I wouldn’t suggest doing so. Characters and story elements learned in the beginning episodes bear importance in the latter stages, and come on, would you read Harry Potter 5 before the first four?
However, as has always been the center of Sam and Max games, and returns in “Beyond Time and Space” is the game’s comedic value. If I wanted a serious crime show, I’d watch “CSI: Whatever city it’s now on.” This latest Sam and Max game is downright hilarious and more adult-themed than what I expected.
Max, the quirky little rabbit, is the center of hilarity in the game. When not committed to a certain action, he’ll hop around or even begin making armpit fart noises. But he isn’t limited to mannerisms, the little guy also speaks, and these were a few of my favorite lines from the game. Trust me, to explain the context would only confuse you.
“I’ve seen teenagers stuffed in lockers less emo then these guys!”
“What the hell man!” “"in response to anything
Sam- “Why do they always have bottles of water at raves?” Max- “Because of all the drugs, Sam!”
The comedy however is not limited to Max alone. The world breathes funny. From Santa’s emphatic line “The snow will turn red with the blood of the naughty!” to the general cynicism and satirical nature of the episodes, the game will keep you laughing, again, and again, and then when you’re already giggling, the game will make you laugh again!
Voice acting in “Beyond Time and Space” is really very good, it’s not great, but it works. At first, Sam’s dry tone and Max’s incessant dialogue intrusion irked me a bit, but after a short while the duo’s voices became as familiar and loveable as anything. The game’s thousands of lines of dialogue (a guess), are spoken fluently, appropriately, and in manner that makes the player interested in just what the hell’s going on! Additionally, the multitude of finely crafted lines of dialogue can be fully skipped with a simple click of the B button, but this is a worse idea than entering a room full of zombies with anything less than an automatic shotgun. Additionally, an Achievement, worth 20G, is yours, provided you listen to every last line of dialogue.
Having played, loved, and praised Telltale’s later works, it’s obvious that Sam and Max acted as a stepping off point for those later endeavors, as the dialogue in the Tales of Monkey Island and Wallace and Gromit series, are some of the best, in any genre, I’ve ever seen and make use of the solid foundation laid in this game.
Furthermore, the game’s many characters grow and become known to the player through the extensive and well-crafted lines of dialogue. The game is, of course, centered on Sam and Max, but the game’s many side characters have a lot about them Telltale makes known. For this reason, the game truly extends beyond just Sam and Max and at times, almost feels
The puzzles! What would a Sam and Max game, or any adventure game be, without this integral component? Worthless garbage, that’s what, and this game is far from that.
The puzzles in “Beyond Time and Space” strike a great balance between gamers’ need for adventure, and difficulty. I feel that a game such as this, plays differently for almost every person. Yes, the puzzles are all solved in the same manner, but, based on the perceptiveness of the gamer, the puzzles can be horridly difficult or innocuously easy. However, Telltale crafted a wonderful and detailed guide on their Web site, with images included, for each episode, and admittedly I referred to the walk-through on a few occasions. Call me a cheater, I don’t care. I did what I had to do to enjoy the game, and I still thoroughly did!
Graphically, the game is beautiful, and though I never played the original PC version, I believe Telltale’s promise of updated high-def graphics, as the game looks beautiful on my HDTV. From Santa’s cold and snowy workshop, to the pits of Hell, Telltale did an amazing job animating these varied landscapes, and their attention to subtle detail is remarkable.
Of note: the game comes with “Special Features” but don’t get too excited. These are only brief character biographies and concept art. The concept art is intriguing, mainly because of its usual appeal to gamers looking into the history of their game, but overall, there really isn’t much here.
Blast Factor: Sam and Max: Beyond Space and Time is a thoroughly enjoyable and wholly approachable game for fans of the series and newcomers alike. A strong and varied cast complemented by engaging storytelling, makes this the game that much more exciting. With a whopping five episodes packed in, each requiring more than a hour of your time, at $20 and around 10 hours, the game feels very monetarily worth it.
Sam and Max: Beyond Time and Space is available today on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1600 MS Points/$20. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.