Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside

aka: De Helse Jacht op de Duistere Nacht, Pajama Sam: Don't Fear the Dark, Pyjama Pit: Keine Angst im Dunkeln, Pyjama Sam - Héros de la Nuit
Moby ID: 1200
Macintosh Specs

Description official descriptions

Sam, a big fan of Pajama Man is to afraid to sleep, with Darkness in his closet. So he turns himself into Pajama Sam! With his Flashlight, his mask and Signature edition Pajama Man Lunchbox. Going into his closet, to The Land of Darkness, His things are stolen by trees, and are hidden throughout The Land of Darkness.

Its up to you to help Sam get around The Land of Darkness to find his stolen stuff. Along the way help Sam collect his missing socks, and solve challenging puzzles to help Sam find his stuff.

When you play different times getting Sam's stuff will seem easy, but as you play the game different times finding Sam's stuff gets harder. The game features collecting a lot of useful items such as an oil can, a pick axe and a magnet, and running into new friends such as Otto the boat and King the mine car.

Spellings

  • Пижама Сэм. Когда на улице темно, без страха смотрим мы в окно - Russian spelling

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Average score: 87% (based on 13 ratings)

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Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 14 ratings with 2 reviews)

Pajama Sam is a psychonaut

The Good
"No Need To Hide When It's Dark Outside" is the first game in Humongous Entertainment's Pajama Sam series. After Fatty Bear, Putt-Putt the car and Freddi Fish, this time the character is human - or at least humanoid, since Sam's blue skin isn't exactly typical... A nice thing is that Pajama Sam is actually more of a funny character than the others (he is, however, a bit similar to a secondary character, Freddi's best friend Luther the small green fish). He is still a little boy, with all the attitude typical for this age, such as impatience. His defining characteristic is his obsession about the imaginary comic book hero Pajama Man - Sam tries to imitate him, wears a mask and the obligatory (and not very good for adventuring, which can be seen especially in the second game, when Sam causes a disaster by stepping on it) superhero cape with his pajama, perceives his lunchbox and flashlight as superhero equipment just like Pajama Sam's... In this game Sam's mother is trying to help him grow out of his fear of darkness, but Sam - after reading a Pajama Man comic book - decides to solve the problem in a superhero way, by "capturing Darkness and locking him in his lunchbox".
By the way, the funny thing is that, in the end, Sam will "vanquish" Darkness - by beating him at the Cheese & Crackers game...
I will write more about the game's "deeper meaning", but generally: in Pajama Sam games the worlds seem to grow out of Sam's imagination. Sam opens the door to his closet and, after falling down, finds himself in a strange world which still contains elements from his room (this will be yet more visible in the final Pajama Sam game, "Life Is Rough When You Lose Your Stuff"); after getting into Darkness' closet he will only need to open the door again to be back in his room. And this new world is beautiful, has some of the best graphics in Humongous Entertainment games. Darkness' house is inside a great tree with red leaves, a strange blue light is shining over the well, many colors of paint bubble in the geysers... As in all HE games, there are also lots of little details and animations found by clicking everything possible.
There are a few minigames in the game. The abovementioned "Cheese and Crackers" is simply a variation on Tic Tac Toe, however with interesting bigger boards, but it's there mostly because Sam will play it with Darkness (this part, however, is non-interactive, it's just a cutscene). "Nuggets" is a variant of the well-known mobile game "Snake" - it's found in the mine and it's optional. A very nice idea, but with some flaws: it sometimes takes sooo long to collect all the pieces from a big board and cart movement isn't as smooth as in the original "Snake": turning right after another turn, which was no problem for the snake, usually won't work. Taking the "Brain Tickler" quiz is necessary to gain access to a part of Darkness' house - the quiz could also be considered a minigame. It's funny ("- His interests include skydiving, channeling ancient spirits and stamp-collecting. - I don't collect stamps. You're making that up") and very much a parody of TV shows. It's, of course, a quiz which can be solved by children, but some questions are extremely easy and some a bit more difficult. A nice change are questions which have more than one correct answer, such as the one about the king of France and poverty in his country (by the way, the same answers will appear in the tough economic question in the second Pajama Sam game). Some answers are completely obvious ("Who wrote Beethoven's Symphony No. 9?", "What color is an orange?") - altogether, the quiz is a mixture of some brainstorming and pure humor.
A scene I just loved is the one I call "the kitchen opera". In Darkness' kitchen all utensils introduce themselves by singing, but in one of the plot variants there is a whole sung dialog between Sam, the fridge and the carrots, which reminds of a comic opera.

The Bad
As in all Pajama Sam games, the tasks can have different solutions. However, it's a pity that you can't - like in the later games - "cheat" and choose the variant yourself. It's even more of a pity that you aren't warned that the button in the lower left corner is not the menu button, but one used only for exiting the game...
There are not as many variants as in the second and third game because Sam only needs to find three items: his mask, flashlight and lunchbox. The difficulty level is uneven: some solutions are ultra-easy, some more complicated. I don't remember well the one with Sam using a rope to pull himself and King the mine cart higher so that they can gain more speed, but I recall that it was quite hard as an arcade sequence.
It's also a pity that Carrot doesn't always appear. The second variant for finding the mask (in the room with the dancing furniture) is more difficult, maybe more satisfying, but also disappointing when you realise it means that Carrot won't appear at all. Only in the third game is he a character that always appears. And he's, in my opinion, a very interesting character - often compared to the hippies and, as such, an example of the lazy hippie stereotype being unjust. Carrot is political - he leads a revolutionary movement of vegetables tired of "being relegated to the salad", infiltrates World Wide Weather to document exploitation of their workers and ends up reforming the company from the inside, helps prevent a war on Moptop Island...
All Pajama Sam games have side tasks which involve collecting things. In this game Sam's mother asks him to sort the family's socks and, after Sam goes to the Land of Darkness, the socks appear there. However, in this case they are often hard to find. In some cases only a small part is visible, sometimes they hardly stand out against the background, and in the mine some are found in places where there is very little time to notice and grab them.

The Bottom Line
The word "psychonaut" means someone who explores his or her mind, using methods such as psychedelic drugs - therefore the word is very often used as a synonym for "psychedelic drug user". Pajama Sam is a child, so far drug-free... but it could be said he does exactly the same. He confronts his fears or at least his impulses such as lack of patience, he creates new worlds with his imagination, he travels through his mind ("psychonaut" was, of course, constructed as analogous to "astronaut"), to find solutions to his problems within himself. Sure, Pajama Sam games are very funny and completely suitable for their intended age group - but there always is a more serious undertow. Under all the fun the games are indeed quite dark - it's about a boy who is scared (I can sure feel some empathy for him - I'm over 30, but I'm still afraid of sleeping in total darkness and silence...) and left to sort out his problems by himself. "Mind wandering" is too often perceived as "unproductive" - and in Sam's case it's very productive, it allows him to solve his problems. It's really bad that in "the real world" such a vivid imagination would likely be perceived as something bordering on pathology...

Windows · by Nowhere Girl (8679) · 2015

Humongous Entertainment's true potential is finally being realized

The Good
1996 marks the beginning of the strongest period in Humongous Entertainment's history. During it, they really expanded their horizon with various new IPs, while also trying new things with old IPs. At the same time, they also had the necessary experience and budget to give their games a level of polish not found in their earlier work. To say that this game is worthy of being included in that period would be an understatement. In fact, it's one of the best games the company ever made.

The Pajama Sam games generally revolve around the protagonist, Sam, struggling with a problem common to many children (in this case, being afraid of the dark). It leads to him stumbling upon a strange and surreal parallel world based on the concept behind said problem. In the process of returning to his own world, he learns more about the problem and eventually overcomes it. It's never made clear if his adventures actually happen or if they're just a product of his imagination, but that ambiguity is part of the charm. It's thanks to this premise that the games have much more outlandish settings than other Junior Adventures, yet also manage to be more relatable at the same time.

It allows for some very impressive background artwork as well. Like the Junior Field Trips, and unlike the Putt-Putt and Freddi Fish games, the backgrounds only have hand-drawn linework. The color was added digitally. This approach isn't the best when you're aiming for realism (as seen in the Junior Field Trips), but it works quite well with the game's very fantastical art direction. It also helps to make individual colors much more striking, thanks to the complete lack of dithering.

The game is quite a pleasure to listen to as well. The voice acting is excellent and really enhances the characters' already colorful personalities. Likewise, the soundtrack's playful atmosphere, bouncy rhythms and occasionally serene tone fit the game quite well.

But the area that marks the biggest improvement over earlier Junior Adventures is the character department. The game is filled to the brim with all sorts of wacky and memorable characters. A lot of the credit for this has to be given to the outstanding quality of the writing. LucasArts veteran Dave Grossman was clearly a perfect fit for this game. His dialogue is not only very amusing, but really manages to breath a ton of life into the characters, making each of them memorable in their own weird way.

There are some good puzzles as well. The game takes advantage of its somewhat older target demographic to deliver some pretty complex and creative puzzles. Unlike most Junior Adventures, this game's world is pretty multidirectional, yet also has roadblocks all over the place. You'll have to solve puzzles to get pretty much anywhere, but they'll often reward you with entirely new places to explore. It's only after opening up most of the world that you can really start to work on the core objectives. Some of those can involve rather elaborate puzzle chains.

In terms of minigames and other fluff, this game delivers in spades. There's a sidequest to find 20 randomly chosen socks that are hidden within the backgrounds. Although some of those are perhaps hidden a bit too well for their own good. And the reward you get for finding them all is pretty minimal. Still, it's a fun way to encourage paying more attention to the game's artwork. When it comes to full-fledged minigames, there's a quiz show that has a remarkably large amount of effort put into it. You'll barely scratch the surface of what it has to offer if you just play it normally. The game has lots of alternate questions in case you get the first one(s) wrong. In addition to a large and diverse selection of standard edutainment-style questions, there are also more humorous sets of questions and answers. It can be quite amusing when the hosts accept an outright joke answer because it's technically not incorrect (such as responding that movie studios are what makes a star shine). There are even occasions where the hosts will find an excuse to justify every possible answer as being the correct one. Another minigame, Nuggets, is a decent enough Snake clone with plenty of content and fairly strong level design. You just have to get used to the input lag if you're using the keyboard controls. Cheese and Crackers, a Tic-Tac-Toe game with the option to expand the board, is the weakest of the bunch. It's not badly made, but the AI just isn't competent enough to encourage forming proper strategies. But even outside of the real minigames, there are plenty of entertaining side activities. Such as a group of candles with distinct personalities who can hold surprisingly complex dynamically generated conversations. Or a potion-mixing activity that rewards you with various gag animations if you follow the recipe. Some of these things are incorporated into the puzzles as well.

The Bad
Despite everything it has going for it however, the game still stumbles a bit in a few areas.

For one, although the graphics are outstanding in the background department, character animation is a more mixed bag. Lip sync is a welcome addition that helps make conversations look more natural. And Sam's screen transitions have some pretty elaborate and lively animations. The way he moves from place to place is simply more memorable than with other Junior Adventure protagonists. However, some of his poses look a bit off model. When you compare it to his sequels, you can tell that the artists had not yet quite gotten the hang of how he should look at this point.

But the game's biggest flaw is its uneven puzzle quality. I'm not really talking about the puzzles for dealing with the roadblocks. Those are fine. Not too difficult, but they shouldn't be, given that large portions of the game are hidden behind them. The problem lies with the main puzzle chains. I get the impression that the developers were unsure how difficult puzzles should be for the game's age group, and so they experimented by including puzzles of greatly varying difficulty. The game requires you to get three key items, each of which is hidden behind one of two puzzle chains with different difficulty levels. On your first playthrough, the game is always going to select the easy puzzle chains. Those are all fairly simple affairs comparable in difficulty to the average Freddi Fish puzzle chain, or even slightly easier than that. The easy mask puzzle chain still manages to be memorable thanks to some great character interactions, but aside from that, there's not a whole lot to them. These three are undoubtedly the easiest puzzle chains of all the Pajama Sam games, and among the shortest as well. In contrast, the difficulty of the hard puzzle chains is all over the place. The hard lunchbox puzzle chain is still a bit on the easy side. And it also involves a really dull activity that merely requires you to mindlessly click on the same spot over and over again. On the other hand, the hard mask puzzle chain is pretty lengthy. Its final puzzle in particular is rather complicated, yet still logical. Out of all the game's puzzle chains, this one is the closest in difficulty and complexity to those in the game's sequels. Finally, the hard flashlight puzzle chain is probably the lengthiest puzzle chain in the entire Pajama Sam subseries. It's impressive just how much exclusive content it has. Though it's not hard to see why Humongous would refrain from designing more puzzle chains like this in the future. Creating four screens and a bunch of characters that many players are never going to see probably isn't the best way to spend your budget.

The Bottom Line
This game is an amazing achievement in several ways. Even its own sequels, great as they are, struggle to compete with it when it comes to memorable characters and activities. It's just the puzzle department that still leaves some room for improvement. Two of the puzzle chains are excellent, but the remaining four are all rather short and simplistic. As such, the game can feel like it prioritizes style over substance at times. But when the style is this amazing, this is more than an acceptable trade-off.

Windows · by SomeRandomHEFan (164) · 2020

Trivia

Minigames

The Nuggets game located in the mines is a clone of the classic arcade game Snake.

Version differences

All of the game's English releases have flaws of their own, but the Target-exclusive release from 2007 in particular should be avoided. In addition to retaining various minor graphical issues introduced in the previous release from 2002, it always crashes when talking to the grandfather clock. This makes the game impossible to complete whenever the flashlight is hidden in the mines.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Melissa Leonard.

Nintendo Switch added by Rik Hideto. PlayStation 4 added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Linux added by Sciere. Wii added by Xoleras. Windows, Macintosh added by Andrew Shepard. iPhone, Android, iPad added by LepricahnsGold.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, Sciere, Andrew Shepard, Charly2.0, Mr. Eight-Three-One, SomeRandomHEFan, Zhuzha.

Game added March 28th, 2000. Last modified August 31st, 2023.