Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse: The Penal Zone: Review - Ribs' Take

'No, Max! Not the Chrysler Building!' - Sam

They're back, and as good as ever, if that wasn't enough of a clue.

Now, I love the dog and rabbit duo. They are hilarious, from their days as a comic book, to a year of saturday morning programming, and to their saga as the star of adventure games. Due to an evil flash star who looks sort of like a professional wrestler, a diabolical english inventor with a fetish for cheese, and most recently, a no good dirty rotten pirate, our favorite dog and rabbit detective duo (we all know the heavy competition in this market) has been gone for nearly two whole years. That's 428 days and 12 hours. But, alas, they're back. With this, they're better than ever.

Enter the world of General Skun'kape. He's a power mad space gorilla bent on destroying anything between him and some magical artifacts. We know this clear and simple from the absolutely amazing opening of the game. Now, we don't think we'd want to share too much about the opening, so we'll instead focus on another aspect that also happens to be great.

Enter 'The Narrarator'. This mysterious entity pauses time to give you an overview of exactly what is going on. He even stops from time to time to show various important details from the past, present, and future. This character, voiced by 'Culture Shock Max' Andrew Chaiken, is mysterious and hilarious in his very monotonous delivery and clever dialogue. We don't find out much about this character, besides that he has a desk in a blackness and that he has a pretty 'Schindler's List' vibe with the red flower. This is one bit of the story I can't wait to see explained in future chapters.

Like the rest of the Sam and Max seasons and episodes developed by Telltale, this one is only a fraction of the story. Small details in this episode may pan out to be massive plot focuses in the coming months. But things have changed at Telltale, and now they are much more one giant story, rather then loosely connected stories that all come together at the end. I was a bit saddened to think we'd never see another episode like Ice Station Santa or Abe Lincoln Must Die! again, but after completing this episode, I can safely tell everyone reading this that the story feels much more genuine. Sam and Max get more connected with the story this way, and I really felt like this was one epic comedy opera for the ages.

But who cares about story, right? Everyone plays games like Sam and Max for the gameplay, right? No? Only .00003% of the players? Well, I guess I should explain it anyway for those new to the franchise or those who want to know about the key changes.

Using the above screenshot as a reference, let's note the top right corner's three icons. The one to the far left in the notebook, a guide to the world of Sam and Max. When any character is introduced, the game highlights key personality factors in a clever way. The game then puts them in the notebook. Using the notebook, you can view the Case, the Suspects, and Max's newfound psychic abilities, which I shall get to in a minute.You play as the six foot tall dog, Sam. You move using the WASD or arrow keys, or the click and drag system used in Tales of Monkey Island. You click around hoping to find leads on your latest case, affectionately reffered to as 'The Penal Zone'.

In the middle of the three icons lays the inventory box. If you pick up an item, it goes here. You can take items out and try to use them with things, but most things don't go together. You may also click a button to have Sam describe the item. A new feature is a third button that let's you just activate the item. For example, if it were a remote control, you would turn it on by hitting the activate button, and not using the remote control with the television. This makes puzzles a tad bit simpler to understand and solve in some spaces.

Lastly, on the far right, there is the Max button. Inside the barbaric, sociopathic maniac's brain, there lie many secrets and rather scary things. However, due to some mysterious artifacts Max found, his mind now holds a frightening new element: Psychic Powers. Some people reacted to this with a 'What? No! This ruins the franchise! I'm a generic stereotype of a purist!', however, these abilities actually provide for some inventive and witty puzzles. For the record, Max does not make things spontaneously combust and force all his minions to do his bidding, which is a definite option for an epilogue, if you're reading, Telltale. Instead, he can have vague visions of the future, read minds, teleport, and other wacky fun. Overall, I think this is definately an addition for the best.

In addition, graphics have significantly improved, as is obvious. Unfortunately, this reviewer could not have a good experience on anything higher then graphics setting three of nine. However, the game was still a much bigger improvement over Seasons One and Two.As always, sound is top notch thanks to one Jared Emerson Johnson, who's music is fast-paced and fit the settings one-hundred percent. Voice Acting is great, especially William Kasten and David Nowlin, who reprise their roles as Max and Sam. Each character is unique, and they made sure of that both in the modeling and the voice acting.

Other than that, the majority of my opinion would spoil the game. I love the series, and nothing short of ruthlessly murdering all the main characters except for someone like Harry Moleman would make me hate it. Buy it. Love it. If not, you're missing out on the five chapter adventure of a lifetime.

Games, Gold, and Glory is not affiliated with Telltale Games in any way, shape, or form. For more information regarding Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse and related products, visit

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome to Samurai Jack 4|1

We at Games, Gold, and Glory have a stunning new announcement! We have decided to fire and remove all the writers but myself! In addition, we are going to be redesigning the site with a hot pink color scheme. Plus, we are changing the name of the site to 'Samurai Jack 4|1', as we announce our new subject: Reviewing the classic episodes of Samurai Jack, seen on Cartoon Network! For more information on this, hit me up, 'Master Samurai', by sending an email to Until then, tata, true believers!