Title: Sam and Max: The Penal Zone
Price: $34.95 (PC series), $8.95 (PC per game), $6.99 (iPad per game), $29.99 (PS3 series)
System(s):*PC (Windows XP or higher), Mac, iPad, PS3
Release Date: April, 15, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Telltale games
ESRB Rating: “Everyone + 10″ for cartoon violence and mild language
Pros: All new game play, cut scenes and inventory options new to the series and each episode plays into the next to create one big game.
Cons: Glitchy inventory, a bit confusing when you first start and graphics set too high.
Overall Score: Two thumbs Up; 98 out of 100; A; * * * * 1/2 out of five.
Oh, crud! A giant space ape is trying to take over the world, and Sam and Max are the only hope for humanity.
Telltale’sSam and Max: The Devil’s Playhouse is the third season for the dynamic duo. This season will be similar to Telltale’s Tales of Monkey Island where all five episode will be part of the same big story. Each episode will continue after the previous one, which is different then the stand-alone episodes you are use to with the series, giving you a five episode story.
In the first episode The Penal Zone, you are treated to a couple cut scenes (which is also unique to this season) that show a huge alien ape destroying airplanes and buildings from his space ship. Our hero’s are locked in a hamster looking cage and of course you need to get them out. Also, Max inexplicably has telekinetic powers, and Sam has a device that sends people to the “Penal Zone” which has also not been explained yet. There is also a narrator that resembles a caricatured Rod Sterling from the Twilight Zone. Along with narrating, he gives you a tutorial on how to use Max’s new powers and how to play the rest of the game.
Being Freelance Has Its Benefits
Because you start out in a space ship with Max having telekinetic powers and Sam having the Penal Zone thing, I felt like I missed an episode along the way. Also, Stinky, the girl who owns the diner down the street from Sam and Max’s office, is on the ship, too.
Fortunately it all eventually makes sense. It turns out you start the game at the very end of the game and everything else leads up to it.
This series is way different then the previous two. For one thing, all five episodes are related whereas previous episodes were stand-alone with only a few references to the other games.
Now that Max has powers (which he received by finding the ancient toys of power) which include being able to teleport via a toy telephone and being able to turn into other items via a Silly Putty type gel.
Even the inventory is different. Now when you click on the box it shows you all the items in a window and you have three options: Use, View and Interact. Interact, the newest feature, lets you use two items together.
The new inventory options are very similar to the old LucasArts PC game Sam and Max Hit the Road, which where these games originated . Cut scenes and a narrator have also been added.
Like other Sam & Max games, game play is the same, you control Sam and Max and use items to accomplish tasks and complete puzzles.
Damn Dirty Space Apes
The first thing I had to do when I started was turn the graphics way down (on the PC version). It made the game play much smoother but your PC may differ.
They brought back Harry Moleman from Sam and Max Hit the Road who was a little creature who helped in the original game and appeared in season 2. So far he just has a small role that may change as the game goes on. I am hoping that they bring back some other characters from the classic game as well, as they are already bringing back other old elements.
One thing I found annoying was the new inventory system. I like that they have the three options and that you can use items with other items now but, sometimes, if you highlight the wrong item, it is impossible to highlight the one next to it. For example, in going to select the gun, the cursor highlighted another item next to it and brought up an options window. Because of that, it was hard to convince the cursor to highlight the correct item next it without closing the entire menu.
We Could All Use a Little Change
So far I am liking the new format of the Sam and Max games, including the cut scenes. It gives the game a longer feel and more like an interactive movie then a game. Also the whole thing reminds me of the older point-and-click games that I grew up with.
After the monthly releases are complete, season customers will have the opportunity to get a Collector’s DVD containing all five games and bonus content, for just the cost of shipping.