Back in 2006, a game released that garnered so much love, it sprouted a generation of similar titles, all from one studio, the recently closed Telltale Games. The title in question was Sam & Max Save the World, an interactive, narrative-centric adventure of which featured a talking private detective dog known as Sam, and a hyper-kinetic rabbity thing called Max. The game itself was so well-written, with humour dotted around every corner that it spawned a sequel soon thereafter, and gave Telltale the necessary encouragement to keep producing videogames alike it. Now, that iconic adventure is back, developed by Skunkape Games and remastered to suit modern day standards with the blessing of creator Sam Purcell, in Sam & Max Save the World Remastered.
So, what do you get in a faithful remaster of this iconic game? Well, everything there was originally, with updated visuals, options for widescreen support, the ability to play on a controller, as well as a few added extras of five more new musical tracks. That means you get all six episodes of the original, ready to play from day-one, without having to wait for them to release over a series of months, like a lot of Telltale's titles. What that does mean is that you are paying for a faithful remaster, which means for the £15.49 price tag, you are getting a game that was released in 2006, made to play and look like a modern day title.
Essentially, this is still very much the same game as it was fourteen years ago, albeit with graphical enhancements and a few extra additions. Whilst that may seem exciting to the nostalgic community who experienced this adventure for what it was, Telltale's first exploration into a narrative videogame, new players will likely feel the age of this title. Sure, the graphics look great, but the gameplay and humour often feels dated, which is frequently the case with the increasingly common faithful remasters we are seeing nowadays.
The point is, compared to a lot of Telltale's more recent works (and when I say recent, I do mean within the last decade), Sam & Max Save the World Remastered relies so heavily on humour that it can feel a little difficult to connect to today. There are times when you will have a chuckle at a joke that still has relevance to the modern day - strangely enough, those ones are usually political ones, however, the main substance just doesn't quite give off the same emotion. It should be noted, as I mentioned a few times previously, this is common for remasters and even remakes: the Destroy All Humans remake often fell into the same predicament.
As for the gameplay, for anyone who has experienced some of Telltale's later works; Batman: The Enemy Within, The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead, you will know how talented this studio is at producing deep, gripping narratives with interesting interactive worlds to explore. In this remaster by Skunksape, I often found myself fatigued from the many conversations and the exploration, simply because it wasn't as gripping. But, again, this was one of the first of its kind, and whilst that should be celebrated and remembered, it just doesn't stack up against the more modern releases.
With this being said, it still feels pretty great to play. The controls work fine and it looks good considering the main substance is in its early teens at this point. With a large part of what this game asks of you being based around clicking objects to investigate how they fit into an area, crossed with managing branching narrative systems, there is really not a whole lot that can go wrong, but there are a few things that could've been tweaked for the better.
For example, hearing the same voice lines time and time again until you get the desired outcome the game needs to progress the story can be irritating. Modern branching narrative systems will have a way of weaving multiple choices to bring you to a similar conclusion, meaning you can be free with your choices and still advance the story: this isn't the case here. Likewise, there is a lot to explore within the game that quite frankly has no relevance to anything. It's simply filler to add to the narrative, and it makes exploration feel a little pointless.
Obviously, the issues I am pointing out are regarding the 2006 game's problems, and how they stack up to the modern day, but they are still hard to look past with what we are used to nowadays. With all this being said, Sam and Max, and a lot of the cast are still very fun to interact with, and even fourteen years later they hold up as some of gaming's most iconic figures. Stack that up with the great soundtrack, which brings the style jazz you'd expect to hear in any private investigator movie or TV show, and you get a really entertaining world to be deeply situated in.
Looking at it as a whole, Sam & Max Save the World Remastered is a solid remaster of an iconic title. Anyone who hasn't already experienced the brilliance of this game at least once would enjoy this humorous and daft take, however, if you are expecting a hugely modernised version of the 2006 title, this isn't really it. Sure, it looks great and still plays well, but it often shows its age in its narrative and gameplay design, and that can often be difficult to look past, even with fantastic, timeless lead characters such as Sam and Max at the helm.