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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Video Game Connoisseur

Video Game Connoisseur
Video Game Connoisseur

Publisher: Telltale GamesSystem: PC Free Through GametapESRB: T (Teen)

After very little thought and even less consideration, I have decided to start with a list of things you will find in Sam & Max Season 1: bowling balls, big guns, paranoid convenience store clerks, has-been child stars, never-been television stars, Jesse James’ hand, freelance police, anthropomorphic animals, cartoon violence, gangsters, gangster rats, gangsters with giant teddy bear masks, the skinbodies, really old wieners, the Secret Service, hypnotism, psychoanalysts, alien love triangles, prismatology, an Oprah parody, people who are celebrities, people who aren’t celebrities, people who are paranoid of celebrities, Abraham Lincoln, presidential elections, the war room, ballistic missiles, a meatball sandwich, vivid hallucinations, references to older games, carbon dating, a reenactment of that scene from “Old Yeller” where the boy shoots his dog and a 1960 DeSoto.

If that list isn’t enough to make you curious about the game, or rather series of games, then turn back now. Sam and Max, a 6-foot anthropomorphic dog and a hyperkinetic rabbitesque thing respectively, are a pair of private detectives (they call themselves freelance police) who take their orders from the mysterious commissioner who is only mysterious because he never appears in person, just in phone conversations … WOOOoooo!

The pair were originally comic book stars who first made the translation to video games in the Lucas Arts game “Sam & Max Hit the Road.” A sequel called “Sam & Max: Freelance Police” was planned, but it languished in development hell for years and was finally cancelled. Now everything Lucas Arts makes is prefixed with “Star Wars.” Sam and Max reappeared as the stars of a children’s cartoon, which ran for 24 episodes before being cancelled.

Fast forward to late 2006: Telltale Games, a company made up mostly of ex Lucas Arts employees, many of whom worked on Sam & Max, announced that they would be releasing a new series of Sam and Max games in an episodic format through Gametap. Starting last November, a new episode has been released each month, with them being available to non-subscribers 15 days after they come out on Gametap. The series is being released in episodes with each episode being a stand-alone game, but there is an overarching theme of hypnotism to the season, allowing each game to flow into the next.

The game is rather simple to play. Controls are a point-and-click interface which, by clicking on anything that lights up, will yield either a piece of valuable information, an item or a piece of humorous dialogue. You simply collect items, which you use to solve various puzzles. Imagine Myst, but shorter and more fun.

One puzzle requires you to use a “gas grenade launcher” (actually a salad shooter with an onion stuffed in it) to blind a has-been child star so you can punch him in the head with a boxing glove. Another puzzle requires you to find a homing beacon you can plant on Abe Lincoln so you can target him with a ballistic missile. And yet another puzzle requires you to carbon date the wieners in a convenience store so you can prove it’s a historic site and give it government funding. You should have an idea of what kinds of things go on in these games now.

So far, five episodes have been released with a sixth and final for season one expected to arrive sometime in April. You don’t have to subscribe to Gametap to play Sam & Max but I recommend it, because when you take into consideration how much you pay for just Sam & Max and compare it to all the games you will have access to on Gametap, it’s a better deal (yes I’m pimping Gametap, now where’s my check?). Anywhoo, it doesn’t matter how or where you play Sam & Max, just play it already! Stop denying yourself!