Sam & Max Prepare For The Penal Zone

Hey old buddy, look at our shadows.

The third series of Telltale’s Sam & Max games is due to see its first episode arrive this Thursday, and to remind us all of this there’s what’s described as a “smidgeon of gameplay” to be watched, below. The first episode is called The Penal Zone, and it’s safe to assume no opportunity to snicker at “penal” will be missed. In fact, as the footage below shows, it’s safe to assume an awful lot has changed since season two, with a new inventory, new conversation system, new features such as a notepad, and most of all, the ability to play as Max using his new-found psychic powers.

Also different, as this footage demonstrates, is the quality of the graphics. The backgrounds look enormously more detailed, and the characters have more expressive faces, more detail on them. And most of all, their voices no longer sound like someone’s hitting a stick against an electric fence – something I’ve been screaming to be improved for a long time. And hoorah! It’s done!

The footage below is a little flat and out of nowhere in the story (I’m cleverly concealing the fact that I’ve already finished the game, but can’t yet share my opinions of it, by the tense of my writing, but here I’m giving up) – it makes a lot more sense in context. It usefully shows you Max using one of his new powers, teleportation, which not only ends up acting as a useful quick-travel, but is also the basis for a number of puzzles.

The game’s available Thursday, but it’s unclear at this point whether you’ll be required to buy the whole five-part season for $35 then, or if that restriction is only on those pre-ordering. Telltale haven’t really found a pricing policy they’ve stuck with yet, so it’s a little unpredictable at this point. Still, from the improvements and the details below, this one’s looking promising.


  1. Kieron Gillen says:

    Heheheheheh. You said “Penal”.


  2. Alexander Norris says:

    Is that some of the Monkey Island music playing in the background, or a thinly-veiled homage? Either way, I approve.

  3. qwerti says:


    1st Since I heard about the title of the game, I felt as if I had to make that joke so badly.

    2nd Why do you write KG at the end, when it already says Kieron Gillen at the top?

  4. Rick says:

    Looks like they’ve built the new models over the last ones, I’m seeing a few re-used animations. But still eagerly looking forward to this, it looks like its shaping up to be the game that Season One should have been (though yes, that particular piece of footage was entirely contextless, TTG could have picked a better scene to use for promotion).

  5. bleeters says:

    “We’re really good at not making people laugh”

    I’ll say.

  6. M.P. says:

    I know you’ll think I’m weird, but I preferred the old voices…

  7. Ricotta says:

    I loved the first two, can’t wait for this one, already preordered!

  8. Julian Murdoch says:

    FYI, this was missed by pretty much everyone, but Penal Zone was available as a launch title for the iPad almost two weeks ago. It’s a blast.

  9. Risingson says:

    Great great game from what I’ve been able to play. I predict a positive review from mine :)

    BTW. the second season isn’t still available in Spain. Which is making a lot of non-english speaking spaniards a bit impatient. And I could say even desperate.

  10. Willy359 says:

    I hope they find a way to bring back Girl Stinky. She was cute, in an untrustworthy kind of way.

  11. Web Cole says:

    What the hell is “RP to E 10 Plus” when its at home? Crikey.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It means “full rating of game not yet carried out (for any number of reasons) but probably going to be E10+.”

      Basically they haven’t reviewed the whole thing (possibly because the episodes need the same rating as the collection or something) but they’re sure enough of what it’s liable to be to guess what the rating will be.

  12. Velvet Fist, Iron Glove says:

    I really hope that that’s footage of the 360 version, and that Telltale don’t continue the mistake they made with Tales of Monkey Island in taking their interaction method optimised for the controller’s analog sticks and wedge it clumsily onto the keyboard and mouse. Because last I looked, neither my keyboard nor mouse has an analog stick.

    But since that video shows a mouse pointer too, I’m not exactly sanguine.

    Sam & Max seasons 1 and 2 used the mouse-oriented point + click interface very well; and as long as the areas and object locations are appropriately designed, there’s no reason why both interfaces couldn’t be supported for the same game. But Telltale clearly doesn’t consider the user interface very important (hint: it is; it’s the only way the player can communicate to the game, it’s vital)—since they kept the same point + click interface in the Xbox 360 ports of the early seasons according to reviewers.

    • Newblade says:

      No point & click for movement. You can’t see the ground in many cameras and wouldn’t know the exact position in which you are clicking.

    • Velvet Fist, Iron Glove says:

      @Newblade Thanks for the confirmation. Thinking about it, does anyone know what the interface is like on the iPad version that was released a bit ago? Cause that’s yet another very significantly different control scheme.

    • Risingson says:

      You get used to the new interface, anyway: they improved it a lot since the first episode of Tales and now it is even confortable.

      The reason for using this interface, or the Mass Effect kind of dialogue options, is for reviewers that say “this is just another boring point n click adventure”. Really, you just put direct control and a mass effect nod and then the reviewer is happy. Though, of course, the reviewer will complain of the difficulty of the puzzles, like “why must I use a clip in the door when I just can shoot it?”.

  13. Gabbo says:

    Graphics overhaul? Playing as Max? I don’t need to hear anymore, I’m sold.
    Those were my two biggest complaints from Season 2.