I’m Not A Game Critic, I’m A Lagomorph!
HIGH Taking revenge on that scoundrel, Brady Culture.
LOW Getting stuck on a puzzle I was sure I remembered correctly.
WTF Even 14 years later, I still don’t get most of the pop references.
Sam & Max, the creations of comic book artist Steve Purcell, were stars of the Adventure genre long before they starred in a game since they used to be Lucasarts mascots and made cameo appearances in almost every adventure the studio developed in the early ’90s.
In ’93, they finally got their own game with Sam & Max Hit the Road. While it was a memorable and humorous adventure, it would be twelve years before the two would get another shot at glory in Save the World, an episodic series developed by Telltale Games.
After Telltale’s dissolution, former staffers got together and formed Skunkape Games, and their first release is this remastered version of Sam & Max: Save the World. This time, the package offers all six episodes in one convenient package.
As in many point-and-click titles, the star of the show here is the humor. Sam & Max are an irreverent dog and rabbit “freelance police” duo, and they find themselves in absurd situations like dealing with former TV stars wanting to hypnotize the world, or preventing the mafia from taking over the moon.
The pair make fun of almost every character they meet in every possible way. Their jokes are mostly of an unpolitically-correct nature and a bit hit-or-miss (at least for non-US players like me) because of the pop culture references regarding Jesse James or Hank Williams, but the developers have said that obscure Americana has always been part of the franchise. So, fair play. Still, the writing does manage to get a grin or a laugh several times regardless, though there was a bit of controversy surrounding the script…
For this re-release, Skunkape has rewritten some of the jokes to fit modern audience sensibilities and a voice actor has been recast to fit a character’s origin as a person of color. As someone who played the original, I feel most of the rewrites are so small that one would hardly notice. The humor (as a whole) doesn’t suffer, and the new voice actor is perfectly fine.
That said, Skunkape should have been more straightforward about the changes. Rather than coming right out with it, they instead claimed (on their website and Steam forums) “we forgot about them when we first made a list of FAQs”. Clear communication about changes made when remastering a product, especially when marketing to fans who have strong memories of the original, should have been a priority.
For those who haven’t played it before, each episode of Save the World clocks in at around 2-3 hours and features classic point-and-click Adventure gameplay — talk to characters for clues, pick up items and try to figure out which items are needed to progress past puzzles.
Since Save the World was originally a series of six episodes, the game is broken up into small-scale chunks, not unlike a TV show. There are a limited amount of items to be picked up, and the puzzles are usually small in scope with fairly straightforward goals.
Although there are instances of the “moon logic” the genre is known for (one particular sequence in Sam’s dream stands out) the general difficulty isn’t high and would be a good introduction for a newcomer. Playing each one back-to-back may lead to some fatigue, but repeated locations and characters were less noticeable when it launched in 2006 because of the months-long wait between each episode.
Looking at the quality of the remaster itself, the graphics were polished up and redesigned to fit a widescreen format with some dynamic lighting also added. The sound has been cleaned up and five new music tracks by original composer Jared Emerson-Johnson are included. It’s also a treat to see Sam & Max fully portable on the Switch, along with touchscreen controls in lieu of a mouse.
It’s great to see the return of Sam & Max Save the World, now looking fresh and ready to meet a new audience.
— Damiano Gerli
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Skunkape Games. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and four out of six episodes were completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated T by the ESRB for Crude Humor, Cartoon Violence, Mild Language and Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. While the title may look appropriately cartoonish, Save the World is definitely not recommended for kids under 12 due to the sheer number of adult jokes and raunchy situations.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is subtitled, even though subtitles are not resizeable. There are no audio cues necessary for gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game uses a standard point-and-click interface and is controlled via the JoyCons or the touchscreen.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).