Sam & Max: Season One Review

Point and click. These basic gameplay mechanics are at the core of the Wii hardware, built directly into its input and operating systems. It makes sense, then, that popular point-and-click PC adventures should eventually find their way onto Nintendo’s humble home console. Such is the case with the Sam & Max franchise, as Season One has finally arrived on the little white box more than a full year after its PC release.

Regardless of timing, this is the same wise-cracking pair of freelance police who work to solve a number of cases revolving around hypnosis and mind control schemes. Each of the six episodes has its own specific plot, but they all tie into one another and act as building blocks for the game’s overarching storyline. Season One definitely delivers a strong episodic experience, although part of its intended effect is tempered by the compilation format. Rather than simply building familiarity and consistency between episodes, the repeated inclusion of a few “home base” locations can feel slightly redundant.

The game remains virtually unchanged from its PC counterpart, save for a few adjustments to graphics and game controls. Directing the detective work is accomplished by pointing the Wii remote at on-screen objects or characters and then tapping A to make Sam and Max interact with them. Inventory items are accessed with the + button and then used as in any normal interaction, and conversations are carried out through branching dialogue trees with plenty of response choices. The Wii remote does an acceptable job with this control setup, although the lack of precision and added strain of continually pointing in 3D space reveal that it is not as favorable an input method as a computer mouse provides.

Throughout the adventure, players will find that Sam & Max: Season One is not a perfectly smooth ride. At its best, the game gives players subtle clues to help them figure out the next course of action, the solutions being clever and fulfilling. The worst parts leave players in a tiresome trial-and-error cycle, searching for nonsensical resolutions to what can be described as either puzzling or simply absurd situations. Most often, this involves exhausting every option in a non-player character’s dialogue tree until an event is triggered or a response tips the player off.

Each episode is quite short and can be completed in a single sitting. Despite the brevity of these sections, progress often moves at a snail’s pace thanks to a combination of load times, a leisurely strolling pair of protagonists, and the necessity to travel back and forth between a small handful of areas in order to collect and combine the proper items and unravel the game’s plot. A few slow-down issues and at least one lock-up bug don’t help these matters.

Graphically, the Wii version of Sam & Max has been toned down to match the processing power of the console. The visuals are not as crisp on the Wii as on the PC, and there are a few additional hang-ups involved in normal play, as mentioned earlier. The soundtrack and voice acting are still excellent, with enough good and humorously bad jokes to last until next year.

Sam & Max: Season One is a fun experience that fits the Wii console well. While there are a few issues that hurt this version of the game, the comic storyline and animated cast of characters manage to compensate for those shortcomings. Old school gamers will get feelings of nostalgia from the classic style, and all Wii owners will find something worth standing on in a sea of Wii mediocrity.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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