Review: Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space (Xbox 360)November 16th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Reviews, Xbox 360
Getting into a groove is definitely a must for any good episodic series, especially when you’re being sold the whole season at once. Sam & Max’s first season didn’t really start getting good until the last two episodes, which seems to have to their second season, Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space, starting off with a bang. While Sam & Max is quality throughout this season, it still lacks a good control scheme that fits the Xbox 360.
Beyond Time and Space is definitely a very apt description for the types of things you’ll see in this second season of Sam & Max. While the first season went to some weird places, this season sees the crime-fighting duo visiting some more mythological places and people. That includes places like Santa’s Workshop after he’s gone nuts and shot up the place, the Bermuda Triangle, and an emo vampire’s castle in Germany.
The writing in Beyond Time and Space is also well-done, as certain characters aren’t really overused and their dialog isn’t too formulaic to make it boring. Even the typical trek back and forth between Sam & Max’s neighborhood and that’s episode’s special location is toned down a bit, which helps keep the game from getting really tedious. There is one episode in particular that’s a bit heavy on that back and forth traveling between numerous locations, but Sam & Max are abducted by a space ship that makes it easy to teleport from place to place like it should. It still feels like certain items should be more easily collected while in the beginning part of the episode so you don’t have to trek back if you’re smart enough to solve the problem that early on.
While the stories and events are entertaining enough, Beyond Time and Space does have issues with the basics of a point-and-click adventure game that make it more of a clunky experience than it should be. You’re still forced to use a slow cursor that can be hard to place at times, which pales in comparison to Telltale’s Wallace & Gromit and its method of just rotating between selectable objects in the environment. The camera is another issue since Sam can only move by clicking on where you want him to move to, which makes it hard to select anything until he stops moving. The inventory box also has what seems to be a weird bug, as whenever you exit from it without actually selecting an item, Sam always stops for a few seconds and comments on an object, which gets annoying when you either accidentally click on it or are just checking if you have a suitable item for a puzzle.
Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space makes good use of its outlandish locales with the way the special locations look and work along with how the neighborhood changes within the first episode. Everything still has that simplistic look for its cartoony characters, but they do make good use of details like Jurgen, the emo vampire, and the nipple rings he puts his fingers in to help make some of these characters more interesting than just a simple bad guy. Voice acting is done well with each character fitting into the story well without much of anyone being flat or lifeless. There is a bit of an issue with audio, as you can very easily cause multiple lines to be read at once if you’re in a hurry and skip through lines once you’ve read them, which comes off as a bit sloppy that characters don’t just stop once you skip their line.
Though the first season started off slowly before kicking into gear in the last two episodes, Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space continues at that high quality peak and keeps it going throughout all five of its episodes. While it may have one less episode, there is easily more quality here packed into its five episodes to make the two or three hours that each episode lasts a more worthy purchase than the first season. Though there are control issues that make it a more clunky experience than we’d like, the quality of the story and jokes is enough to make it worth enduring those issues. You don’t really need to play the first season to really get what’s going on here, so if you’re just looking to spend your 1600 points ($20 US) on the best Sam & Max experience, Beyond Time and Space will probably be the better season for you to purchase.
Final Score: 7.9 | Recommendation: Buy It