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Sam and Max returned last year, in serialised form, to the PC. Previously they had stared in the point and click adventure from LucasArts Sam and Max: Hit the Road. Here, the point and click style continues albeit in mouth sized portions.
Adventuring games are enjoyed for two reasons: they provide enemy encounters that require tactics and strategy to conquor, and they create a fantasy world in which to explore and adventure.
After a purple patch in the 09's point and click adventures (where you progress an unfolding story by guiding characters around a game world by pointing and clicking the mouse) they somewhat fell from grace in recent years. This serialised return for two of the most popular characters from those days is much overdue. The combination of Sam (a rabbit with violent tendencies) and Max (a straight talking detective hound) led to many stand out comedy moments and intriguing game play puzzles.
Sam and Max on Wii pulls together the last year's six mini adventures into one off the shelf purchase. It continues the high quality writing and game structure that the old time LucasArts adventures became famous for.
The gaming aspect of the experience hinges on collecting items and figuring out how they work together, or with the environment, to solve puzzles and progress the story. The key to the game's success here is that the solutions to each conundrum are always logical - if you can only get yourself into the (sometimes tangential) minds of the developers.
The mouse input is well mirrored by the Wii versions use of the Wii-mote. This has the advantage of being usable in spaces without desks - living rooms and dens - and matches the laid back pace of the gameplay well. In fact the whole experience simply makes more sense in this setting, where you can really kick back and relax, rather than feel like you are working at your PC. The down side is that this interaction is less accessible (read: more fiddley) for novice and young users than the more familiar mousing action.
Gamers will be attracted to this if they played the original point and click games like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. The game certainly caters to that audience, whilst also ensuring an openness to newcomers. The same old swagger to the writing and voice work continues that soon endears most players.
Although a single player game, this is often as much fun to play in a group as on your own. I spent not a few happy Sunday mornings on the sofa with the kids, fielding suggests, and working my way through the first few episodes.
The game is split into chapters which are nice to have a good run at in one go. Those that can't devote the six or seven hours required in one sitting can save the game at any point.
Very young players will struggle with the Wii-mote pointing (whereas they would have had a shot at the mouse controlled version.
Intermediates will appreciate the conservative difficulty level. It takes some time before the game gets too taxing. If they do get stuck there are always guides on the internet to reference - if you can bear the sense of defeat this brings with it.
Experts will enjoy revisiting characters and locations of the previous game. There are plenty of fan-pleasing references for them to appreciate. But more importantly the same solid adventuring gameplay persists throughout.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: