As characters, Sam & Max have been around for a very long time, and appeared in all sorts of entertainment mediums, from previous games, to Saturday morning cartoons, to comic books. In their first Wii appearance, Sam & Max Season One, the duo introduces the first six episodes of the PC game to the console crowd. For those unfamiliar with Sam & Max, the story revolves around an unlikely duo of crime fighting critters in a bizarre version of New York. The series is renowned for its brand of witty humor, and that humor is faithfully ported to the Wii game.
Sam and Max Wii’s gameplay consists of guiding your character around the stylized recreation of New York using the Wii remote. This is essentially a point and click game, and most of your time will be spent looking around a specific environment and clicking on different objects so that Sam and Max can interact with that object and hopefully move the story forward. Dialog with other characters in the game involves a conversation tree that’s pretty much trial and error in how you obtain your desired objective. That can prove frustrating at times as you get stuck with insufficient clues or a general lack of direction. Of course, these issues have always been present in point and click adventures, though that doesn’t make it any less annoying. For the most part, though, you should be able to navigate from one wacky case to another without having to resort to an online FAQ.
Every once in a while, the game switches it up a bit with a short burst of differing gameplay. For example, there is a short driving mini-game where you run into cars in order to collect some money. Those are the exceptions, however, and the bulk of your time is spent looking around for clues in a static environment. What makes it all work, of course, is the series’ trademark humor. Max is hilarious, and his absurd lines play perfectly off of the more serious Sam character perfectly. His musings in particular help to keep the game feeling fresh.
Although the game is a single player adventure, it’s really best experienced with at least one other humor-loving person. Sam & Max Season One is at its best when you are goofing around with a friend enjoying Max’s random comedic riffs. It also helps to have an extra eye to help you figure out puzzles to move the story along.
The graphics in Sam and Max are 3D cell-shaded, and match the series’ trademark style. The best part of the graphical package are the humorous animations of Max as he wanders aimlessly by Sam’s side. The visuals add to the sense of playing an interactive TV sitcom, which is what the Sam & Max games aim for. The Wii version of Sam & Max is a port of the PC version with widescreen support, an in-game tutorial, and of course Wii remote support to supplant the mouse. So, while the graphics are fine given its episodic, downloadable nature on PC, the game is rather barren for a console game, even for Wii. The sound design is rather muted, but since the game is so highly dialog driven, it makes sense.
I’m curious to know why the developer chose not to place this game on Wii’s downloadable service as an episodic series similar to its PC counterpart, but that is not to say that this game is a lacking package. It contains six full episodes of the Sam & Max PC series, and is value priced at $29.99 (MSRP). And what you get is a very solid point and click adventure with sharp humor and a penchant for the absurd. Fans of the genre or the Sam & Max series will find plenty to like here, and gamers looking for a fun alternative to the glut of mini-game compilations on Wii would do well to give this game a look.