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Sam & Max Hit the Road (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (170956)
Written on  :  Aug 27, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Sam, should I confront or subdue in front of the suspected perpetrator?

The Good

This absolutely insane adventure is the closest possible thing to wackiness incarnated in a computer game. You thought Day of the Tentacle was hilarious? Well, "Sam & Max" makes it look like an innocent kiddie adventure. "Sam & Max" is not just hilarious. It is simply abnormal.

When I play "Sam & Max", I recall the famous conversation with the Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland".

"In that direction", the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter; and in that direction", waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like; they're both mad."

"But I don't want to go among mad people", Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that", said the Cat; "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

That could have been an epigraph for "Sam & Max". The game is definitely influenced by "Alice in Wonderland". It has the same kind of humor - you read (or listen to) the conversations, and at a certain point you start wondering whether you yourself are totally sane or not. And yes, "we're all mad here". There are no normal people in this game. And perhaps the craziest ones are the two you control - Sam, with his own peculiar logic (akin to the logic of some of the characters from "Alice"), and Max, who is simply there to prove us the famous March Hare is not the maddest representative of their kind. Sam and Max, the two heroes from Freelance Police, who must find the missing Bigfoot and Trixie, the girl with a giraffe neck, and to defeat Conroy Bumpus, the evil country singer!

Unlike "Day of the Tentacle" with its one cozy location, "Sam & Max" is mostly about discovering new locations and then visiting them. The whole game is constant jumping from one hilarious place to another, and you don't have time to hold your breath and to look around, because the game continues pushing you forward. This bizarre world is so complete that even the interface and the famous dialogue system had to change: you now talk to people without knowing what you are going to say. The "duck" icon is particularly worthy of notice: you click on it just to hear one more joke - no, even not joke, but one of those "nonsenses", that are so typical not only for "Alice", but for English tradition in general.

But there's also enough real American humor in the game. Americans like laughing when they notice everywhere things they are familiar with. Pop culture references, slight satire, a bit of parody - this is the healthy American humor that is also present in "Sam & Max". There are lots of such things in the game - I just remembered that place with the Vegetables...

The puzzles follow the same style. Forget about anything reminding deduction - use everything on everything, click till you have no feeling in your index any more, try, experiment, don't be afraid - you can't die. "Day of the Tentacle" had pretty crazy puzzles, but upon closer inspection, they could be revealed as quite logical, in their own way. The puzzles in "Sam & Max" have no logic, no matter from which angle you look at them. Is this bad? No, because if you agree to enter this world, you shouldn't expect the puzzles to be of the "use key to open the door" kind. Like "Day of the Tentacle", this is comedy, 100% comedy, only comedy and nothing more. And, also like "Day of Tentacle", there is nothing here that isn't comedy - characters, plot, dialogues, puzzles, and graphics. It is just bigger and badder than "Day of the Tentacle", and it loses the last drops of sanity that still remained in that other wacky product.

The Bad

It is quite hard. Most of the puzzles have nothing to do with logic, and some of them are really tricky... Hey, you know what, LucasArts adventures are simply not well suited for this "bad" section on MobyGames!

The Bottom Line

Great comedy, loads of fun, most insane puzzles ever seen. In short - the genre pushed to the extreme. After "Sam & Max", there was hardly anything left to say. No puzzles could be wackier, no characters more hilariously cartoon-like, no locations more ridiculously comic. Where could the genre go afterwards?

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to go", said the Cat.

"I don't much care where - " said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you walk", said the Cat.

" - so long as I get somewhere", Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you're sure to do that", said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."