Telltale Games is the new home for the Freelance Police Sam & Max, after the two spent the 90s earning critical success alongside LucasArts other point & click adventures.
After a failed return with the cancelled Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the two left LucasArts and eventually was picked up by Telltale Games, who went on to release two seasons worth of new adventures for the canine in a hat and a sharp suit and his psychopathic rabbit partner via digital distribution on PC.
Now the first season is being bundled together and released as a full title on Xbox Live Arcade this spring as Sam & Max Save the World, with season two, Sam & Max Beyond Time & Space following at a later date. Ahead of the release OXM talked exclusively with design director Dave Grossman about the dynamic duos' return.
Can you fill OXM readers in on exactly what they should expect from Sam & Max?
Dave Grossman: Sam & Max could be described as hilariously twisted film noir, in which a pair of "freelance police" (they're sort of like detectives) operate with wild abandon in a gritty but cartoony modern big city. They practice a sort of "unvestigation," in which mysteries and crimes are eventually solved and the common good is more or less served, but by the use of unusual, questionable methods which may well cause more harm than the original problem. The humor in Sam & Max runs towards irreverence, wordplay, and cultural satire. It's lovingly sardonic, if that's possible, unflinchingly pointing out the lunacy in our day-to-day lives while embracing that lunacy as something wonderful. The references tend to be sophisticated and sometimes obscure, but there is also plenty of over-the-top wackiness that would appeal to a younger audience.
What sort of puzzles can we expect in the game and are there any concessions for newcomers not familiar with the Sam & Max universe?
DG: Players are given a wide variety of opportunities, including faking a psychological condition, improvising comedy in front of a camera, traveling through time and monkeying with the past, defeating Abraham Lincoln in a mud-slinging election and using the power of the US presidency for personal gain. No prior experience with the Sam & Max universe is required; these games are designed to be playable by anyone. You might need to bring a sense of humor.
Sam & Max: Freelance Police was sadly cancelled by LucasArts. Was there any narrative devices, jokes or scenarios that made the leap between that and Season One?
DG: We started completely fresh, which was easy for me since I was not involved with the cancelled game in any capacity and know very little about its content. I believe Freelance Police, like our series, was meant to be comprised of several episodes, but any other similarity is accidental. In any case I'm sure that our game is much, much better!
Is Season Two green-lit for release on Xbox Live or is that decision based on the success of Season One?
Emily Morganti: Both seasons (eleven episodes total) will be making their way to XBLA.
Who would you say is funnier - the dog or the rabbity thing?
DG: Max gets a lot of the zanier lines, and because he is completely unfettered by conscience (as compared with Sam, who is only MOSTLY unfettered by conscience), he's more outrageous and people tend to find him funnier. Personally, I like dry humor, for which Sam would be your man. I mean, your dog.
The entire first series has already been released on the PC. Did you think about distributing the episodes in a different way, say in packs or as a physical release in stores?
DG: The XBLA games will have each season's episodes collected together in a set, instead of releasing them all separately. Although the episodes are designed to be savored at a rate of one a month, we figured we'd let people splurge. We're treating it essentially like the collection of a season of a popular television show that you would see after the series had had its first run.