It certainly is a joy writing for Adventure Lantern. Not only do I get to play the first Sam and Max game in 13 years almost a month before it is available in Europe, I also don't have to explain why Sam's referral to a certain gruesome crime that was committed in 3.3.04 was particularly satisfying. Then again, playing through the first episode of Sam and Max: Season 1 was nothing but satisfying.
I find your lack of pants disturbing
Naked rabbits or not, this is a game that reaches monumental scales by managing to fit in toilet humor in the most literal of senses, despite it's admittedly short length. You see, oh wisest of readers, any seasoned adventure gamer should be able to beat Culture Shock in less than five hours.
Those five hours though are really entertaining and they can be easily expanded to hundreds of hours of psychotic fun, provided of course you enjoy non-arcade driving mini-games that let you ram, pull-over, and shoot a variety of colorful 50's cars. For those less keen on vehicular mayhem, there's the choice of endlessly trying to interact, examine and talk too everything.
Telltale's highly commendable attention to detail should be a blueprint as to how adventure games should be made. This game is obviously a labor of love and if (as most neurotics would have it) the devil is in the details, it also is a very polished little hell-spawn. Snapping Max out of Sam's way and listening to the smile-provoking Weeee cry (or is it Wii?) should be proof enough.
Fine, but what is it all about, I hear the masses ask. Well, it's about Dave Grossman of Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island fame, Steve Purcell of ... er... Sam and Max fame, Jared Emerson-Johnson of Bone (the soundtrack that is) fame, Brendan Ferguson and the rest of the Telltame team striving to bring the lagomorph-canine duo to the 21st century.
It is also about Sam and Max trying to expose a not-so-sinister former child star mystery and violently subdue the evil-doers, but you'd better find out more by playing the game yourself. Wouldn't want to spoil it for you, you know. I'd rather let Max do that for you, but I will just randomly recite a little something plot oriented he mentioned: Wow, an actual celebrity vandalizing our neighborhood!
It talks (and even makes phone-calls)!
Sam and Max is rich in both eye and ear candy. It easily manages to retain the style of both the original Hit the Road game and the Steve Purcell comic books, albeit in glorious 3D. And while the gameplay still is an almost typical -as typical as anything S&M related can be - point and click adventure, with added shooting, interrogating in the traditional good cop / deranged cop style and driving, something has changed. It is the voices. Neither the Hit the Road nor the cartoon series actors were available, and, well, the voices are definitely different. I still love ‘em. Especially Sam's. And Max's. And don't argue. It's a matter of personal taste after all...
Just like the violence versus animals thing. Or even rodents, or to be more precise rodents called Jimmy Two Teeth. The quality of the writing and dialog, on the other hand, is *in the most objective of ways* top notch. The humor is always successful and at times laugh-out-loud-and-look-like-a-silly-person brilliant. So is the animation, general art-directing and screenplay of the game, and don't get me started on the quality of the puzzles.
They might be on the easier side of things (slightly above Bone 2 level), but the puzzles are varied, sometimes randomized, seamlessly integrated to the plot and downright fun. Oh, and worry not, you will not find any irritating mazes, pixel-hunts, sliders or any of the usual adventure game burdens. Nope, this is pure cartoon adult (or, mostly adult - kids will not appreciate the paranoid humor) fun, with a great jazzy soundtrack. Getting a smart psychoanalytic puzzle should be considered an added bonus.
Enough with my sad fanboy banter. Just do as I tell you: stand up, don't bother to dress formally, call everyone you know and let them know that Sam and Max are back, visit your nearest video game store, fail to buy the game, return to your home/office/wherever your PC is, visit Telltale or Gametap, get the game, praise your good luck, send me $10 (10 euros would be preferable), and then call yourself a true lover of the adventure game. Yes, it's that good!
You crack me up (i.e. in a nutshell)!
It's been 13 years, but it was worth it. Sam and Max have returned and even managed to meet the impossibly high - even unfair - expectations of adventureheads worldwide. Kudos to Telltale. Apparently adventures are back in the mainstream. Episodic adventures actually, but it's the same thing really... The story of Culture Shock is totally self-contained.
The final grade is 92/100.