Sam & Max

Preview: Freelance police come to Wii

If you're a thousand years old, you'll likely remember the original Sam & Max. The PC point 'n' click adventure came out in 1993, and instantly became one of the most loved games of all time.

Created as comic characters by illustrator Steve Purcell, Sam the sarcastic dog and Max the utterly insane rabbit are freelance police, fighting crime with guns, mallets and wise-cracking.

People cried for their return for 14 years, and finally in 2007 they re-emerged in a series of episodic adventures on the PC. Now the vigilante cops are in 3D, looking gorgeous in a cartoony world that matches the style of the comics.


And before the first episode was even released, people were campaigning to see them reach our favourite console.

Pester power

"We started getting all these emails from people begging us to bring Sam & Max to the Wii," explains Telltale's Emily Morganti. "It was a little surprising to see how the rumours came alive on the web that we'd signed a deal with Nintendo.

But it illustrated the fact that there was a really big demand for Sam & Max on the Wii, and we paid attention to that. Plus, if we hadn't done it, I think the fans would have stormed our office."

So the story of the furry duo's fight against some mysterious hypnotic events that are harming former child stars, local shop owners and the floating head of Abraham Lincoln, has a new home.

Through puzzle solving and talking to the locals, the pair investigate the peculiar crimes, while breaking every object, and law, they possibly can.

These are games built around the gags, and it's a rare moment that doesn't have a dry remark or comedy pratfall. A regular cast of characters appear in each episode, with a new range of jokes and, oddly, careers, to drive the plot.

The Wii does seem the natural home of pointing 'n' clicking, what with its having a pointer, with which you can click. But very few games have journeyed down the point 'n' click route on Wii.

Writer and designer Chuck Jordan isn't surprised by this. "Conventional wisdom says that adventure games just don't have an audience any more, but we've seen that a lot of people are still into them and are clamouring for a comeback," he says.

"There's also still this idea that console gamers are only interested in action-heavy games, even though Nintendo's presenting the Wii to a wider audience than other consoles."

The bigger screen

Telltale always intended for Sam & Max to play out like a sitcom, in short bursts, and think it will be entirely suited to the TV screen.


"We're not really interested in making huge, sprawling games that make you spend dozens of hours hunched over a computer in a dark room, task-switching over to an online walkthrough," explains Chuck.

"We've modelled our games as an animated TV series where you drive the story, so you can sit back on the couch, pick up the remote and just start playing."

While the series won't be receiving any Wii-specific content, it is getting lots of tweaks to the interface to make sure it works smoothly, as well as a brand new tutorial.

But unlike the PC version, it won't be appearing in episodes. Telltale explain that WiiWare download sizes are too small for the amount of detail in each episode, and releasing them online would mean stripping the game down - and that's something they don't want to do.

Instead, all six instalments will be bundled together in the one retail box. Kind of like a DVD boxset. A good DVD boxset.

  1 2