What’s up everyone! Mike here with the final visit to the Videogame Shoebox of 2016. Since I’m getting married tomorrow and going on a honeymoon road trip with the greatest companion I could ever think of, I think we should end the season with one of the all-time great PC games starring another comedically mis-matched pairing.
So check it out, the Videogame Shoebox 2016 finale, join me as we take a little look at…
Sam & Max – Hit The Road!
Hit the road is a point & click adventure game developed and published by LucasArts all the way back in 1993 for MS-DOS. Remember LucasArts? They used to be a videogame company for about 20 years until Disney bought the big Lucas bundle on Steam presumably and then proceeded to gut the company and cease all development, I’m not bitter or anything but dammit Disney, let us have nice things!
Anyway, load that floppy drive and be sure to select your correct sound blaster because the Freelance Police are here to save the day the only way a anthropomorphic dog and a hyperkinetic bunny thing can, with lots of hovering the mouse cursor over every pixel of the screen looking for an action that you’ve just spent the last 25 minutes staring directly at.
Sam & Max are on the case of trying to find a missing Bigfoot from a nearby carnival and that’s your cue to travel to many “classic Americana” tourist sites to solve the mystery. You even get to visit the world’s largest ball of twine!
The carnival owners have lost their top attraction, Bruno the frozen Bigfoot! Somehow he has been set free and has fled with their second most popular attraction, Trixie the Giraffe-necked Girl so its up to the duo to find and combine items galore on their journey to solve the case.
The game received a lot of positive reviews for its humour, graphics, music & gameplay and not to mention that fact that this was one of the first games to ever incorporate full voice talent for its characters. Sam & Max were given more personality by performances from professional voice actors Bill Farmer and Nick Jameson.
Despite the positive reception, a number of of sequels were attempted over the years but all were ultimately cancelled before release. Eventually this led to the franchise moving from LucasArts to Telltale Games who made it an episodic series for 3 seasons.
So even though this was my introduction to Sam & Max, as well as the Saturday morning cartoon that eventually came out in 1998, it turns out that the titular characters actually debuted to the wider populace in a 1987 comic book series and this game was more directly influenced by the 1989 Sam & Max comic On the Road which has the same plot.
Their very first game appearance, however, was in internal LucasArts testing material for SCUMM engine programmers that were new to the company. The characters’ creator, Steve Purcell created animated versions of his creations and an office backdrop for the new staff to practice on.
Back to the game though, the gameplay itself follows the now standard point & click adventure tropes such as click on a spot to make Sam move there, different click modes to either look, use, grab and “Max”, the ability to use Max to complete a puzzle by either putting him through something that would normally kill anyone else or just to see how he interacts with the other characters or scenery because, y’know, he’s an idiot.
As you move from location to location you’ll get more and more items in your inventory as some puzzles will require you to go back to previous zones with items from later ones in order to solve them and move the story forward. You’ll be doing a lot of item combining too, this is still a LucasArts game after all, when you’ve made other successful games such as the famous Monkey Island series, dammit you’re gonna need item combinations… I don’t remember if there’s a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle in Hit the Road…but I also wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if there was.
For some reason I have a very vivid memory of most of my hours playing this game spent not actually wanting to push the story forward, or maybe it’s because I was an idiot kid and was stuck or something, that doesn’t sound like me though. No, I remember spending hours playing Carbomb! The developers saw fit to put a couple of mini-games in the game like Whack-A-Rat, an only-slightly-more disgusting version of Whack-A-Mole, there was a sort of car-surfing while you drive to another location thing but then there was Carbomb. Which is basically just Battleship which as an adult I don’t mind telling you all that I really frickin’ hate Battleship so I honestly have no idea why I played this particular part of the game as much as I did.
To be honest, in going back and researching Sam & Max: Hit the Road for this feature, I think I’m going to play through it again, and this time I think I might actually try and finish it…but I’m probably just going to end up playing Carbomb again. If it looks like something that you can get into though, it’s on Good Old Games for PC right now for pretty cheap so check it out!
That’s it for this visit to the Videogame Shoebox, join me next time when I’ll be dusting off some more cartridges. Be sure to let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MikeNotridge any games that you’d like to see get a retro-regression-session on here.
I’ve been Mike Notridge, and I will see you, next season.
What’s in your Videogame Shoebox?