The freelance police are back! Or, rather, the freelance police's adventures from 2007-08 that formed Season 2 of their ongoing exploits have made it to the Nintendo Wii in compilation disc form, as Atari has picked up the retail publishing rights to the Telltale Games downloadable series of Sam & Max titles. Five exciting episodes that take our heroes beyond time and space are now available as — fittingly enough — Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space, and my review of Atari's efforts is now available over at Kombo. There's even some exclusive video that sums up the Wii experience.
The action may sound dry and repetitive considering that it's based around dialog and character interaction, but what makes Sam & Max worth exploring are the jokes, gags, and other layers of humor embedded in most everything the characters say, do, and see. Much of the humor also comes from the performances of the actors behind Sam and Max. David Nowlin and William Kasten bring lots of energy to their respective roles with Nowlin keeping Sam grounded in reality as the straight man and Kasten providing plenty of manic energy as Max. For instance, the aforementioned Maimtron speaks entirely in quotes from 1980s pop music. He threatens to "tear your playhouse down" ("I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down", Paul Carrack) when he starts to attack, and when Sam demands to know Maimtron's serial number in order to report him to the authorities, the answer is, of course, 8675309 ("867-5309/Jenny", Tommy Two-Tone).
This was a difficult title to score because I was essentially reviewing two halves of the same whole. On the one hand, the actual Sam & Max episodes are highly enjoyable and a must-play for point-and-click adventure fans. On the other hand, the Wii port isn't up to technical snuff thanks to some video, audio, and pointer skipping issues and can turn the title into more frustration than fun. How do I come up with a composite score in a situation like this? In the end I split the difference and marked it as "Good", but with the caveat that it may well be best played on another platform. It's a darn shame, too. The Wii remote was practically made for this genre.