Sam & Max (& Chris): Gamer Origins
He may be known for reviewing Game Pass games, but 1 Hour 1 Decision's Chris and his love of gaming go all the way back to a certain dog and rabbit.
1994 was a pretty eventful year. Mandella became president of South Africa, Brasil wins the World Cup, the first genetically modified tomatoes were approved for consumption, wildly popular F1 driver Ayrton Senna and alternative rock icon Kurt Cobain both tragically pass away. On top of all that, we got Disney's The Lion King, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Speed, AND Pulp Fiction. That's a LOT even by the "Twenty Twentik-tok" standards. While all of those are significant, personally for me it was eventful because I had the opportunity to play a game I still hold near and dear to my heart.
Some people (ok just me) might say it might have been the start of my love for gaming. My origin even - my time with Sam and Max Hit the Road.
Before I talk about this game though I do want to clear something up. Yes, I had a Nintendo prior to this that my parents bought for me because I had made a scene at a local department store called Alexanders (shout out to anyone who's been in one of those). As I was kicking, screaming, and writhing (on what I hope at the time was a maintained linoleum floor), my parents swore after that meltdown that they would never buy me another video game console. And unfortunately, they kept that promise.
The next console I had gotten was a Dreamcast, and I bought that myself. So between the Nintendo and Dreamcast where else could I get my fix of the “new hot thing” as I watched my friends get a Super Nintendo, Genesis, PlayStation, and Nintendo 64? How about a device where I can "study" and get my fix of new and exciting games? That's right, my dad brought home a PC. My neighbor at the time had this contraption and he'd let me play all the cool games he had, Commander Keen, Doom, Prince of Persia, and this wonderful point and click adventure that I'm circling back to after that tangent, Sam and Max.
All those games my neighbor had were great but there was something special about the anthropomorphic characters of Sam and Max. After my neighbor was done with playing the game, I finally got to bring it home and play it without hogging up his machine. The game felt like a Saturday morning cartoon but one that felt a little risque to watch; Adult Swim before Adult Swim. I fell in love with the character designs that Steve Purcell created. I had dreams of one day being a comic book artist like him but they were quickly dashed by the fear my parents instilled in me about the "starving artist". So as I pondered about my future, I clicked away on my PC with my pixelated pals.
Never change, Max.
The setup of the game is that Sam (the stoic dog) and Max (the wily rabbit) are given a case to find out what happened to two circus performers, Trixie (the giraffe necked girl) and Bruno (the bigfoot on ice). You control Sam, who with his pal Max, set off on a wild adventure across the USA. There are twists and turns and lots of laughs. Not only is this a point and click adventure game where you try and solve puzzles by combining objects and talking to the zany cast of characters, there’s mini games like “Wak-A-Rat”, a highway driving mode, and even a game where you get to dress up Sam and Max in funky outfits. You zip around the USA hunting for the next clue to crack this case. Each area was lovingly crafted and if you look around enough, you’ll see something ridiculous.
Time to play Wak-A-Rat (or Max!)
Can you believe the game is also fully voice acted? You can't say a lot of games do or do well (*cough* Forspoken) nowadays. The funny thing was, my soundcard at the time was junk, so I remember playing the game in complete silence. But once I got my SoundBlaster 16 card, my mind was literally blasted. The voices and the music were hilarious and goofy and made me love this world that much more.
Before writing this piece, I did go back and play this game recently to see if it held up. Could the puzzles be a little less obtuse? Sure, but even with my younger self hitting my head against my desk trying to figure out the next step, I was having a blast. My parents would get so upset as I would waste reams of paper and ink jet cartridges printing out walkthroughs for this game. This game really allowed me to feel like this experience was my own thing while all my other friends were busy with their consoles. I didn’t feel left out, just different. I really did grow to have an appreciation for the versatility of the PC and still love gaming on my PC (well not the one that was used back then, I have upgraded since). When I did finally get a console, it was nice to get a shiny new thing. But in my heart of hearts, my gaming passion started with a mouse, a keyboard, and two loveable, zany characters that are Sam and Max.
About the author:
Chris is a connoisseur of all things Xbox, especially Game Pass. He loves it so much, in fact, that he created the 1 Hour 1 Decision podcast with his buddy Tom to randomly play and review Game Pass titles!