Have You Played… Sam & Max Hit The Road?

Whaddaya reckon will be next to extrude from Double Fine’s remastering machine? We know Full Throttle is on the way, which most likely leaves Loom or, my own dear Lucasheart, Sam & Max Hit The Road.

I’m looking forwards to Full Throttle Remastered, but with those crisp and hyper-styled cutscenes still looking great to this day, it feels like the game that least needs it – even if it’s the Lucasarts adventure which most deserves another spell in the sun. Sam & Max’s humour feels of the decade it came from, but a coat of animation-quality paint could do its beautifully absurd sights the world of good.

It’s always been the road trip aspect of Sam & Max which has most appealed to me, and while I’m instinctively a little wary of remasterings, I’d get a little breathless at the idea of seeing the World’s Largest Ball Of Twine, The Mystery Vortex and Bumpusville in clean-edged HD and all that pointlessly modern jazz. Whatever will they do with the freeway surfing minigame, though?

And hey, might finally take the taste of those Telltale things out of my mouth, eh?

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53 Comments

  1. Infinitron says:

    It is one of the most American games.

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      caff says:

      It’s one of the best road trip games I’ve played, but before I discovered what real road trips consisted of. I haven’t travelled the US much, but Australia definitely has lots of “big shrimp” or “big flamingo” type things going on in the towns.

      • bill says:

        I did a real road trip across the US.

        It consists of putting the car on cruise control and going in a straight line for 8 hours each day.

        That and wishing you’d brought some CDs when you discover that the only radio stations you can pick up are Country stations.

        The scenery is nice for the first hour or two though.

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  2. Jerduh74 says:

    Nice pic you posted.. upside down. Better drink up some coffee awhile you’re at it. -_-

    • Xocrates says:

      I honestly can’t tell if you’re joking or not.

      • Replikant says:

        Assuming he doesn’t: That is a screenshot from the “weird spot” or somesuch, which -amongst other preternatural phenomena – sports gravity irregularities.

        • Xocrates says:

          I know that, but Jerduh74 posted as if he didn’t. It would be a perfectly honest mistake to make if one is not familiar with the game, and the “asshole” tone used in the post is also not exactly uncommon.

          My posted wasn’t that I didn’t get the joke, it was that I was not sure it was supposed to be a joke since I don’t know Jerduh74 well enough to tell and Sarcasm is still not transmitted via broadband.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      This being Sam and Max, I thought that was somehow a part of the game. I haven’t played any of them, just heard of them and I’ll probably start my Sam and Max journey with the Devil’s Playhouse included in the Humble Telltale Bundle.

      And then, Alec, I’m gonna play lots of other Telltale stuff, to make sure that the taste of Telltale things never leaves my mouth.

      • Xocrates says:

        It is part of the game.

      • klops says:

        Start your journey with Sam & Max Hit the Road. The Telltale S&Ms (teeheehee) are good, but the Lucasarts game is a classic …if you like point and click adventure games.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    I liked the Telltale Sam & Max games, especially season 2. Puzzles maybe a bit on the easy side, and art assets were reused, but it was charming and actually laugh out loud funny in places.

    • Mags says:

      Shhh! Haven’t you heard? We’re all supposed to hate them.

      I rather liked them, particularly the Devil’s Playhouse.

      • CaptainDju says:

        I tried, I swear I tried hating them! It’s not my fault if the humor was brilliant!

  4. Replikant says:

    Have you read Sam and Max: Surfin the highway by Steve Purcell. It’s really funny, if you happen to have the prerequisite sense of humor.

    • Turkey says:

      Yup. It’s up there with The Goon and The Tick in terms of dumb, funny comics.

      • Turkey says:

        Oh, and the Amazing Screw-On Head.

        • Chuckaluphagus says:

          The Amazing Screw-On Head was adapted for a television pilot. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever watched, and it’s a shame that it never became a series.

          • Turkey says:

            Yeah, I’ve seen it. David Hyde Pierce is amazing as Emperor Zombie in it.

  5. Xocrates says:

    I’m a big fan of the TellTale Sam and Max games, but was not hugely fond of Hit the Road, which I only played after the first 2 seasons of TellTale games, which makes wonder how much the order in which one experiences them affects the enjoyment one gets out of them.

    That said, I don’t expect DF to remake Sam and Max anytime soon. Even aside from the fact that it might be trickier from a legal standpoint since I don’t think Disney owns the Sam and Max rights, as far as I know Tim wasn’t involved with it, which was a big reason in them wanting to do Grimm/DotT/Throttle

    • Gnoupi says:

      Not sure how those rights are standing right now. For sure LucasArts’ rights to Sam and Max expired, that’s when Telltale took them up. Now I’m not sure for how long they are licensed to TT, or for which use, so that’s the main point.

      Now if you want more fun with rights, Steve Purcell currently works at Pixar. Now of course that doesn’t give Disney rights to anything, but at least they don’t have to look very far to reach the guy, if they feel like making such remaster edition.

    • Sic says:

      I just want to say that Hit the Road is obviously the vastly superior game, just so that your claim doesn’t stand unchallenged.

      Nothing more to add, really.

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        caff says:

        Yeah I’m in the same boat. I wanted to love the Telltale games but they just didn’t ring true to the original (and great) formula for me. Everything from art style (Peter Chan is a legend) to the music/story/puzzles.

        This needs a remake. Day of the Tentacle Remastered was brilliant to play again, it was so lovingly restored.

  6. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    One of my all-time top 10. If it gets a remaster, I’m pre-ordering.

    Yeah, you heard me. *shades* 8)

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    gritz says:

    It’s so baffling how much the writers of RPS hate the Telltale S&M’s. They were fun little games, and did a lot to get a dead genre to show signs of life again.

    • Stevostin says:

      They were more than that. The 3rd season especially is IMO by far the best Sam & Max game made. The 2nd was pretty awesome, and ever the first one was still a pretty good game. I love the Lucasart version, it got me into Sam & Max in the first place, but passed the opening little of it was memorable. Sure, it was pleasing and fun despite the occasional excessively twisted riddle, but little stuck in my memory. It wasn’t very involving either. Season 3, I’d never forget OTOH.

      • Geebs says:

        I think it’s probably that Sam and Max comes from the pre-walking’n’talking simulator TellTale and liking their old stuff has retroactively become terribly gauche in fashionable circles.

        Personally I thought their Monkey Island games were fine too, if not really a patch on the first one.

        • Crumbley says:

          Crap, really? I tend to consider those a standard to try to reach for. The third season is my favorite game, period. The way they split puzzles up, had the whole wheel of powers in addition to the inventory really made a surprisingly big impact on interacting with puzzles – it was easier to do clever things. Payoff was a lot more rewarding, and it was just really fun, both in writing and gameplay.

          I’d desperately tried to like TWD Season 1, and at this point I just can’t be bothered anymore. Kind of a bummer that others look back with distaste – I really loved those games – episode 4 and 5 of season 2 is nearly devil’s-playhouse good.

          Also: holy shit the music.

  8. try2bcool69 says:

    I’m baffled as to how you don’t seem to know that Sam & Max wasn’t made by Tim Schafer, and therefore he would have zero motivation to remaster it.

    • Frosty says:

      I reckon Alec knows well enough that Sam and Max was not a Schaefer game. But it still makes sense for Double Fine to remaster it.

      It has, thus far it seems, been profitable for Double Fine and doesn’t require a large staff team. It is also something that I dare say interests a lot of the staff there, who probably have some history of interest in the LucasArt classics. Plus Tim seems on pretty friendly terms with a lot of the ex LucasArt cohort so his studio is probably fairly well trusted by the original developers.

      Oh, and, maybe. Just maybe. Tim likes those games too?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, I know that full well, but it was made while he was at the studio during its golden years (released same year as DOTT!) so I can’t believe he feels no connection to it. But more broadly I’m speaking about Double Fine’s status as essentially keepers of the flame for olden Lucasarts fare.

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        Risingson says:

        WHAT? After what Dave Grossman did with the adventure genre you say that Double Fine are the ones that… and even if Shafer was not in this adventure he was? What the, Alec?

      • Ben says:

        I think Tim may even have said outright he’s not interested in remastering any of the LA games he didn’t work on. But perhaps DOTT will do so well and his team will have enough enthusiasm that he’ll reconsider…
        (If they do a HTR remaster, my fantasy would be that they make it look like one of the original comics.)

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    Risingson says:

    Sam&Max was leaded by Sean Clark, the guy that made some sense of the developing mess that was The Dig, and just for that it deserves some respect. But then again, the Sam&Max Telltale games had the input of Dave Grossman, one of the most important names behind many classic adventures. They are great, they are the better adventure of their times, and the reasons behind the cold reception that Alec gave to them are either arbitrary, wrong or simply the opposite of nostalgia shaded glasses.

    Because the original Sam&Max has many problems in its pacing and its puzzles. The americana satire is fantastic and it looks and sounds awesome, but as a design it has a LOT lacking.

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      Angstsmurf says:

      I noticed none of those problems when playing the game many years ago. But in adventure games, luck always plays a large part in which puzzles you solve easily and which ones you get stuck on. Even if you are good at puzzles, you’ll still get stuck randomly at times, and if you get stuck, of course the pacing and fun grinds to a halt. I can’t see how Sam & Max is different from any of the other classic Lucas Arts adventures in this regard.

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        Risingson says:

        The internal logic, which is something really powerful in the rest of Lucasarts adventures, is kind of absent here. Also, you barely have any idea of what you are doing going from one place to the other.

        • unacom says:

          That didn´t bother me too much, given the fact that in the world of Sam&Max logic seems to be rather unnecessary.

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      Well that would explain why I have always had trouble with adventure games then. Sam & Max was the only one of the adventure ilk that I had no trouble with and enjoyed consistently throughout. Because the “Click everything, try everything on everything else” made sense in their world in a way that using a block of cheese on a doorknob does not in pretty much any other setting. Plus even if it was the wrong move I’d be rewarded with humor, rather than nothing or a bland eye roll of some kind.

  10. Shazbut says:

    Loom has the most to gain and the most to lose from a remaster. It’s so much about the atmosphere.

    Please Loom, and please don’t fuck it up.

  11. Frosty says:

    I have played Sam and Max off the back of Alec’s review when it came out on GOG. It was….good?

    I think the classic adventure games are something really intrinsically linked with nostalgia. Obviously critics do their damnedest to try and take that into account when they look at the re releases but I don’t think the classic adventure games hold up that well.

    What’s the best adventure game you’ve ever played? Monkey Island? Full Throttle? Day of the Tentacle?

    I played Monkey Island special edition (honestly I didn’t really enjoy it). I played Sam and Max. I played Grim Fandango. Each one a beautiful (for it’s time) game. Each one pretty funny. But the puzzles? The roadblocks preventing me from progressing? Garbage, garbage, garbage.

    My first adventure game was probably Ben There, Dan That. I consider the greatest adventure games of all time somewhere between Time Gentlemen, Please and The Blackwell series.

    Classic adventure games are great. But I really don’t think they’ve aged well.

    (I should probably try Loom though. I’ve watched the GDC retrospective on it and I reckon that’d be right up my street. An adventure game from 1990 designed to be finished by anyone? Yes please.)

    In short: If your first few adventure games, like mine, were modernish titles how have you found the classics?

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      Risingson says:

      Did you really find the puzzles in Ben There Dan That easier or less obtuse than the ones in Monkey Island? Because precisely in that game clues are said, repeated, insisted upon.

      And I don’t think you are right, just because you are generalizing, which invalidates your opinion inmediately. HAHAHA.

      • Xocrates says:

        Ben There Dan That is possibly one of the most accessible adventure games I’ve ever played. The puzzles are reasonably straightforward and it’s usually blistering obvious what you can/need to do. Though granted this is in part due to being a fairly short game so there are never that many options.

        Many of the older adventure games are designed specifically for you to get lost and try everything on everything else, to the point it’s not unusual for you not to know what you were supposed to be doing because you failed to notice some random thing. Secret of Monkey Island, while by no means a big offender, is still not a game that aged particularly well.

        I felt this difference pretty hard recently when I played the new Nelly Cootalot game – which was designed by modern standards – followed by Day of the Tentacle Remaster, which I hadn’t played back then.
        I completed Nelly without ever using a walkthrough, even though I got stuck a couple of times, but resorted to using one for about half of DotT after about a week of playing on and off because I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing for much of it, and even if I did I often didn’t know why.

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      caff says:

      You need to play DOTT remastered. It’s brilliant as a game, but some (well, a few) of the puzzles will make you tear your hair out with old-skool-ish pain.

      If you like the Blackwell games, just play more of the Wadjet Eye opus. They are all high standard adventure games, particularly Gemini Rue/Technobablyon/Shardlight.

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      alison says:

      I played the classics when they first came out. At the time, they were frustrating, and you got stuck for months, but that was okay. I was a kid with no money to spend on other games, plenty of free time to waste trying random verb/noun combinations and an imagination desperate enough to conjure up “head canon” to fill in all the gaps.

      Now i am coming up on middle age, and i have to work full time, and i am exhausted when i get home, and i have plenty of money, and plenty of games, and i’ve experienced enough exciting things in life that i no longer have a motivation to imagine game worlds as something more exciting than they actually are. In the last couple years i have gone back and played a few games i missed – most notoriously The Dig and Grim Fandango – and holy hell are those games shit. They are awful. I do not have the patience for that kind of adventure any more. Of course Wadjet Eye and Daedelic and all the other contemporary adventure gaming houses are standing on the shoulders of Sierra and Lucas Arts, but they have taken such amazing strides forward in theme and user interface and puzzle design and story pacing that going back is really tough.

      It’s clear a lot of people my age do really enjoy replaying the classics of their childhoods, but i can assure you there are at least a few of us who are very happy that that era of games with opaque puzzles and barely-there story beats is over. Sam & Max was another one i missed back then, but i have been burned enough times now. I don’t want to risk spoiling the one fond memory i have of the game, which is a young friend showing it off as an example of how cool it was to have a CD-ROM and a SoundBlaster. Now my entire computer is smaller than a CD-ROM and a SoundBlaster, and i can beam talkies down from the information superhighway in under 10 minutes. The feel of gaming in the 90s is better experienced by watching Hackers than by actually playing games from the 90s.

  12. deiseach says:

    For my money it’s one of the weakest of those LucasArts games people of a certain vintage remember so fondly. It looks fantastic and has an entertaining story. Conroy Bumpus is a tremendous ‘villain’. But the interface is a pain, there is an awful lot of padding – oh God no I’ve changed my mind I don’t want to go up the Ball Of Twine come back NOOOO!!!!! – and much of the humo(u)r is playful rather than witty. A remake of Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis would be time better spent.

  13. int says:

    Are you as confused as I am?

  14. Jakkar says:

    GIVE ME THE DIG.

    That game was annoying but it had a surreal, serene beauty in its presentation that completely enchanted me at 12. It was old, then, when my family had their first computer, and as I toyed with Unreal, Half-Life, Soldier of Fortune and Grim Fandango I was no less thrilled by the pixellated, creepy majesty of wandering what, in memory, amounted to a beautiful, haunted, dead alien world.

    The ‘Final Fantasy’ science fiction film hit the same buttons – I’m in a minority for loving it, and for that same set of themes, those same emotional notes.

    Wanderer on a dead world, serene but frightening, rich colours and soft music failing to entirely relieve the dread, which is itself so sweetly contrasted by that sense of melancholic wonder.

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    caff says:

    Anyone reading this with rose tinted glasses should be all over link to thimbleweedpark.com

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      caff says:

      Uh, sorry I didn’t mean to say that Thimbleweed Park needs rose tinted glasses. I meant to say that you should consider it if you liked old skool adventures!

  16. ansionnach says:

    Yes. It’s a decent adventure game; very funny. The interface is incredibly clunky and a major backward step from the nine verb one used in earlier games like Monkey Island 2, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlanris and Day of the Tentacle.

    Some puzzles are incredibly arbitrary so you might well spend longer trying everything with everything than before… and the interface makes this like pulling teeth. Some of the worst bits are deliberately obscured items like the cash in the mouse hole in the very first room – Max keeps walking in front of it and you can easily get the impression that there’s nothing there but him.

    The highlights are great, though. I laughed most at the VR bit and the fishing sequence.

  17. Scrofa says:

    In the matter of fact I did. It’s one of the worst of LucasArts adventures, I’d put it on the same shelf as Full Throttle and Monkey Island 2, maybe a bit better than those two due to actually good humor and memorable characters. All in all it varies from mediocrity to complete frustration. The art is good as always, the plot is whatever-ish, the gameplay (puzzles) is strictly “no, I ain’t putting up with this shit” type (I still did, didn’t enjoy it though). It’s no Day of the Tentacle and even back in the day I just hadn’t much fun with Sam & Max.