Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

On Xbox Live Arcade, the first season of Sam & Max (Save the World) was generously priced, so much so that it wouldn’t be stretching the truth to call it one of the best bargains ever. Sensibly, the five games of this second season have also been packaged together and priced at the “can you really resist me?” sum of 1600 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live Arcade.

Obviously, those who played and completed the entirety of the first season will find this second one to be more rewarding than those who haven’t. Whilst these five adventure games have their separate stories to follow, it’s still best to play them if you’ve already played the first, as jokes and story threads are carried over, meaning you’ll only really get the gist of certain things if you have prior knowledge of the previous season.

The five episodes of Beyond Time and Space sees the comedic duo of dog Sam and his “little buddy” Max the rabbity thing getting up to all sorts of time travelling, hell visiting, and dimensional travelling. It’s also sensible to play them in the very order that they appear on the episode select screen as you’ll recognise references to other episodes, whilst some even begin where the prior one left off.

The first episode, Ice Station Santa, sees the eponymous Santa show a nasty side: armed with a machine gun and threatening his loyal elves with it, it’s therefore up to you, as Sam & Max, to find out just what is going on, hopefully saving Christmas in the process. Moai Better Blues has the detective duo travelling to the tropics through a portal, and soon enough they have to stop a volcano from spewing its hot contents everywhere. The third episode, Night of the Raving Dead, involves a zombie attack with a German vampire as its mastermind, here there’s some rather amusing references to a certain other zombie game. Chariots of the Dogs begins at the very moment where episode 3 left off, thus I won’t spoil anything. Similarly, the final episode, What’s New, Beelzebub?, also begins where the prior episode ends, so again no spoilers (don’t you just hate reading a review and getting half the story ruined by someone who just can’t keep things to themselves?) here.

All the games are very amusing, with fantastic voice acting, amazingly silly scripts, and the characters of Sam & Max play off one another fantastically well: Sam being the slightly more sensible of the two, whilst Max is one warped bunny who just so happens to think that violence is the answer to everything. There’s some really smart jokes to be found throughout and it’s regularly so silly that I just couldn’t help myself from laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

Being an adventure game, there’s obviously plenty of puzzles to be found in each individual episode. Puzzles range from the very logical and fairly easy to others that require quite a lot of thought and perhaps a little experimentation, some are very clever and working them out without the aid of a walkthrough is something that is very satisfying indeed. Like always, you’ll be coming across items that are then placed in your inventory, and finding out how and where to use these objects is all part of the fun for the typical adventure game fan.

The games vary in the number of locations that you’ll visit (obviously never a vast amount), though what they all have in common is that you’ll be jumping back and forth: finding items, with solutions to puzzles then becoming clearer. Many of the environments will be familiar to those who have already been on the cases of the first season (Sam & Max’s office and neighbourhood, for example), whilst others are brand new.

Graphically, all five games are charismatic in their animations and look great in HD, though there does happen to be the occasional slowdown. It’s nothing serious enough to ruin things entirely, then again as long as all the silliness keeps coming, the worst slowdown in the world wouldn’t be enough to keep me away.

Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space doesn’t have a single bad episode, and all five games have their clever puzzles (even if they may not necessarily pose a challenge to the more seasoned adventure gamer), regular funny moments and a cast of weird and wonderful characters. As completing all the episodes will take you a fair amount of time to do, like Save the World, the icing on the cake is its very generous price, making Beyond Time and Space on Xbox Live Arcade a season of adventure games that are very difficult to ignore.