For my inaugural GameTap review, I decided to hit one of the original games designed for the service – Sam & Max: Season One. If you don’t know who Sam & Max are, take a moment and quickly skim through the Wikipedia entry. As a kid, I read a few of the comics, but I wasn’t a collector. And at 18, I played the video game. I always enjoyed the humor, and I’m happy to say the humor isn’t lost here in Season One. Playing through the game was fun and funny for the writing, the dialog.
Actually playing the game, on the other hand, was alternately boring and frustrating. Sam & Max is one of those “click on everything” games. You drag your mouse pointer around the screen and when an object is highlighted, you click on it and you’ll either interact with it, pick it up, or talk to it. Items in your inventory are picked up, your mouse pointer changes and now when you click on things you’ll try to use that item on the object. Its also one of those “you can’t lose” games. There is no time limit. Every mistake, no matter how bad, loops back into the story, in fact, is actually part of the story if you want to hear all the witty dialog. When I say boring and frustrating, what I mean is that the puzzles in the game were either a) painfully obvious and amounted to just making sure I clicked the objects in the right order, or b) painfully obtuse. I won’t ruin the game by using an example from it, instead I will use a classic maddening example from the walk through of the old Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy text adventure:
Firstly, eat the nuts. If you don’t, you will die of protein loss. Take off your gown, and hang it up on the hook. Then, get the towel and put it over the drain. Wait until Ford is asleep, then nick his satchel and put it in front of the panel. Put the junk mail on the satchel, then press the dispenser button. A babel fish will land in your ear, and you will be able to understand all languages.
Nothing in Sam & Max is quite that bad, but sometimes it does feel like it, especially when you are missing just one element of the “logic” and failing over and over again.
Overall, I love the art style of the games, and the humor, but as a “game” I’d almost rather be watching a cartoon or reading a comic book.