For those who have never heard of the Sam & Max franchise, it’s an interesting story. Starting first as a comic, it was restarted three separate times with different publishers, each lasting for only one issue. LucasArts acquired the rights and released Sam & Max Hit the Road in 1993, which again lasted for one installment. It was then turned into a children’s TV show in 1997 which… also ran for one season. Fast forward nine years and Sam and Max were back! This time, to nobody’s surprise. In 2006 Telltale began releasing the episodic series Sam & Max Save the World, which Skunkape Games has remastered and re-released for PC and Nintendo Switch.
The plot of Save the World follows the world’s favorite freelance police as they follow a string of bizarre cases and – what else? – save the world! Much like fellow LucasArts series turned Telltale game, Monkey Island, Sam & Max revels in strange humor, odd puzzles and goofy yet lovable characters. Plus there’s more than enough comic sociopathy here to make Borderlands blush. Sam and Max themselves are sarcastic, satirical, utterly insane and prone to violence, yet always stay on the side of good. Well, mostly. Depends on how you view their treatment of innocent allies who happen to get mixed up with them.
Other persons of note who help or hinder our heroes in saving the world are Sybil Pandemik, a woman whose career is a revolving door, convenience store owner and prolific wearer-of-disguises Bosco, washed-up, former child stars the Soda Poppers and rainbow-themed, lifestyle guru Hugh Bliss. While the characters aren’t what I could call consistently likeable, they all have their humorous moments and the irritating ones tend to end up on the wrong side of Sam’s gun and Max’s fist, which makes for satisfying viewing. Come to think of it, even the non-irritating ones end up on the wrong side.
The game, in Telltale fashion, is split into 6 episodes, which all string together in an overarching plot. You can play them out of order, but it’s not recommended. What’s nice is that the game gives you the option if you’d like to do so. The six episodes deal with (in no particular order) hypnosis, a Toy Mafia, an evil cult, a sentient internet, a psychotic rampaging president, and the evils of network television. Sound totally random? Don’t worry, it is!
Special shout-out goes to the plot of Episode 4, which deals with a lunatic president hypnotizing the masses of America until he gets his head knocked off by Max, who then goes on to run for President against a giant, motorized version of Abraham Lincoln who walked right off the Lincoln memorial. Given America’s own current lunatic-in-chief, the satire bites even harder than it did in 2006 and made for, by far, the funniest section of the whole game.
Originally released as a PC point and click game, Save the World translates wonderfully to the Switch, making full use of the touchscreen controls in handheld mode, but with smooth joy-con controls for docked mode, or for those who just prefer not to use the touchscreen controls in handheld. The remastered visuals are a treat, and the audio sounds perfect, all keeping the classic Sam & Max style and the Telltale look while sprucing it up for 2020, a bit like power washing an old bit of pavement.
The puzzles throughout the game still hold up, for the most part. While much of it runs on classic LucasArts logic of “It makes sense in this universe,” a few fall onto the side of far too obtuse for the logical thinker. Comedy was clearly the aim for several of these puzzle solutions, and while they are funny once you eventually figure them out or get some help, it can be frustrating until then. Taking again from its LucasArts roots, the game will never lock you into a dead end, and you can, and sometimes will, try everything until you hit on the right answer.
Sam & Max Save the World Remastered is an irreverent, hysterically funny game, with humor and puzzles that still hit that sweet spot over 10 years later. With updated graphics, audio, and smooth Nintendo Switch porting, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to not pick this up. Considering the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 has been, we could all use some humor and I think the world needs some saving right now. Personally, I can think of no one better to do so than Sam & Max!
TechRaptor reviewed Sam & Max Save the World Remastered on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PC.
- Remastered Graphics and Audio Both Look and Sound Great
- Top-notch Comedy Writing
- Wonderfully Smooth Nintendo Switch Port
- Several Obtuse Puzzle Solutions Lead to Frustration