By Marty Mulrooney
Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Telltale Games. Originally released digitally via the Telltale Games website in 2010, this new UK retail edition from publisher Lace Mamba Global includes all five episodes of the game, as well as five collectible badges and an art poster by Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell!
Alternative Magazine Online reviewed each monthly episode of Sam & Max: The Devil’s playhouse upon their release in 2010, so for those of you who didn’t catch our reviews – or for those who would like to read them again – here is a quick recap!
“Overall, this is a strong start to the new series of Sam & Max. The beginning seems confusing at first but then pays off. The new controls agitate initially before soon becoming second nature. Finally, the vocal talents of David Nowlin and William Kasten never do any less than live up to the larger than life personalities of Sam & Max. I laughed out loud constantly whilst playing for the five hours or so that The Penal Zone lasted. The music is, as always with this series, a jazzy delight.”
“The time period has been nailed perfectly, with the use of stylised title cards adding to the old fashioned bonkersness of it all. This is 1901 in the world of Sam & Max and it never disappoints. One particular section, set onboard a moving train named The Disorient Express, just oozes authenticity. A pretty bizarre thing to comment upon in a game featuring a 6 foot tall talking dog and his crazy rabbit pal perhaps, but true nonetheless. The period depicted is spot on, albeit in an accentuated, parodied manner, tongue firmly in cheek.”
“Overall, I had mixed feelings in the end about this episode, but I am not too worried about the future of my favourite noir dog and his brainy, rabbity pal. Besides, The Tomb Of Sammun-Mak was always going to be a very difficult episode to follow. The final moments here certainly make up for a stumbling middle section and actually manage to ramp things up to a whole new level before concluding. You could be forgiven for thinking that this middle episode’s ending would have appeared in the season finale!”
“It is undeniably cool to see the gang holed up in Stinky’s Diner, boarded up windows still leaving gaps for various arms to poke through, desperate to find any nearby toys of power. Skun-ka’pe has reverted to a childlike state, rocking back and forth on the floor, useless. Max’s gun is having little effect (as usual). Girl Stinky is busy texting the mysterious S. Yet it is Grandpa Stinky who seems most in control. He is amazingly badass as he suddenly grabs a hidden shotgun, marching to the front of the diner and bringing the pain. It is an opening scene reminiscent of the very best B-movie zombie flicks.”
“Sam & Max is so crazy that you have to just go along with it. It will never make total sense. It doesn’t really have to either. This is a madcap cartoon brought to life, a walking, talking dog and a psychotic, rabbity-thing let loose on our computer/television screens. By remembering that the truly important thing in this franchise is the relationship between Sam & Max themselves, any story deficiencies fade away as background noise. A great end to the season that most definitely goes out with a bang.”
This UK retail edition comes with all of the above episodes, as well as five collectible badges and an art poster by Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell. There is also some concept art and screenshots to be found on the disk, although I was quite disappointed to discover that, unlike the disk available direct from Telltale, there is no video content included – the disk from the Telltale store actually functions as a DVD when placed into a DVD player and features video reels with hours of commentary, as well as ‘The History of Sam & Max’ video series, trailers and bloopers. However, shipping from America can often prove rather pricey for British gamers and the included badges and poster are very nice collectables indeed. Only you can decide which version best suits your needs!
Overall, the UK retail edition of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse is a great package. It lacks some of the extras available in the US edition, but somewhat makes up for this omission with the included collectible badges and art poster. The game itself is well worth playing, even if I don’t believe it to be Telltale’s strongest effort – especially for Sam & Max fans. If you live in the UK and somehow let this episodic adventure game pass you by last year, I urge you to check it out now!
8.5 OUT OF 10