Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sam & Max Save the World
Video game review by Sombrero Grande

It's not often that a video game can prove legitimately hilarious, but such is the case with Sam & Max Save the World, formerly released as Sam & Max: Season One. I already reviewed Season One when it was released for the Wii and praised the game for it's clever and funny writing, as well as its fun and nostalgic problem-solving, point-and-click gameplay, but had quibbled about the underwhelming graphics. Now that Sam and Max are available on the Xbox Live Arcade, Season One's only negative sticking point with me on the Wii has been pleasantly remedied, making for a flawless experience.

The biggest difference between Season One and Save the World (other than the title, of course) is the fact that the game now sports beautifully crisp HD graphics. So, the issue of low-resolution, unreadable text and distracting textures? Delightfully gone! Not only are the characters on every license plate now legible, but so is all the text on everything from the Post-It Notes in Max and Sam's office to the magazines in Bosco's Inconvenience Store. No minor gag goes indecipherable anymore and the further immersion into the world of Sam and Max caused by this is surprisingly impressive.

There are other, more minor, differences between Season One and Save the World, such as the inclusion of Xbox Achievements tied to progressing in and completing the game's six episodes, and the fact that the player can't use a mouse or Wii Remote to "point" at the screen. Instead of the disappointing method used in Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventures for the Xbox, wherein items in the environment are individually selected by pressing up, down, left or right on the right thumbstick, Save the World uses a far superior tactic of letting the right thumbstick instead control the movements of a pointer, which allows the player to still be able to "mouse over" objects in the environment to see whether or not they're interactive.

When I said this game was legitimately hilarious, it's due to the plethora of great and unexpectedly funny lines cooked up for Sam, Max and the rest of the crazy cast to spout out during gameplay. As I stated in my Season One review, the writing is really the game's high point, and exploring the staggering amount of witty dialogue in the game is a real treat. Save the World contains a Leaderboard (as many Xbox Live Arcade games do), but instead of tracking something like points or number of puzzles solved, it actually tracks the number of lines of dialogue heard, encouraging players to really get into the exploration aspects of the game and try to figure out how to hear every last clever retort.

Sam & Max Save the World is priced at 1600 Microsoft Points ($20), making it one of the most expensive games currently on the Xbox Live Arcade service, but considering the fact that the graphically inferior Season One cost $30 on the Wii, and that when the six individual episodes were first released on PC they were $8.95 each, Save the World is an outright steal for only $20! There's really no reason that an Xbox 360 gamer with a connection to the Internet, who's ever enjoyed Sam and Max or point-and-click adventure games, shouldn't immediately consider this for a download. Now get out there and help save the world!


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