The company, once known as Telltale Games, has now split into three different studios. The staff responsible for "The Walking Dead" games have formed Skybound, several former staff who worked on titles such as "The Wolf Among Us" have formed LCG Entertainment Inc, and much of the team that worked on their early titles such as "Sam & Max" have formed Skunkape Games. It seems fitting that this new company would remaster the title that put the original Telltale on the map- "Sam & Max Save the World." Is this a triumphant return for the freelance police or should they have let this sleeping dog and rabbit duo lie?

Does the original hold up?

For the uninitiated, "Sam & Max" is a multimedia franchise that revolves around a Chandleresque dog named Sam and his sociopathic rabbit partner Max. Dubbing themselves "the Freelance Police," they take orders from an unseen commissioner and use questionable and outlandish methods to bring nefarious perpetrators to justice. "Save the World" sees them take on six seemingly unrelated cases that are all revealed to be part of a larger conspiracy involving hypnotism, world conquest, and former child stars. The game is made up of six separate episodes with a lingering plot thread linking them all together.

On their own, the individual episodes work well enough as self-contained stories, but the overarching plot is less effective when taken as a whole.

The humor has held up relatively well, but can be pretty hit and miss. The irreverent banter between Sam and his partner Max is frequently side-splitting, but the supporting cast is a bit of a mixed bag. Arguably, the best episode deals with Sam's partner Max running for president in order to stop a giant robot Abraham Lincoln from hypnotizing the world.

The episode, "Abe Lincoln Must Die," sees the duo at their best with a healthy mix of absurdist humor and political satire.

The musical numbers throughout the season are very witty with lyrics such as "J. Edgar Hoover always insists- organized crime just doesn't exist. Q.E.D: they're not in our midst." However, a lot of the jokes don't quite reach the same level of quality seen in the game's spiritual predecessor, "Sam & Max Hit the Road." Thankfully, the jokes are so frequent and fast-paced, that any gag that falls flat will be immediately followed by one that works.

"Sam & Max Save the World" was made during Telltale's early days before they had latched on to the successful formula from "The Walking Dead." During this time, the company seemed to be perfectly content with making the kinds of graphic adventure games that LucasArts had decided were unprofitable. Gameplay consists of clicking where you want to go, talking to other characters, and using items you've collected to solve puzzles that help progress the story.

Those more familiar with Telltale's later works such as "The Walking Dead" may be caught off guard by the lack of the quick-time events and moral choices that would become a staple for their games to come. Unlike later Telltale episodic adventures, there are no branching paths in the narrative or any ethical dilemmas to encourage multiple plays.

Once you've solved all the puzzles and heard all the dialogue and jokes, you've seen everything the game has to offer.

Of course, this was also the case with the graphic adventures like "Monkey Island," but the puzzles were much harder in those games and the level of interaction was considerably higher. While "Sam & Max Save the World" has no hint system, there really isn't that much of a need for it as veteran adventure gamers and newcomers alike will find the puzzles far too easy.

How's the remaster?

The original games weren't exactly known for testing your graphics card, and that's certainly the case here. That's not to say that the remaster looks terrible. In fact, it often looks great. Quite a lot of effort has gone into invoking the visuals of the Steve Purcell comic series that the game is based on.

Both Sam and Max's models have been touched up to match their comic counterparts and the improved lighting does a lot to enhance the mood of certain scenes. However, some environments, animations, and characters obviously didn't receive the same level of attention and they stand out like a sore thumb. All in all, the visuals are suitably cartoony and slick.

One area that holds up remarkably well is the audio. The voice acting is strong for the most part. The actors who portray the eponymous Freelance Police are perfectly suited to the duo's witty and fast-paced dialogue. However, other voices from characters such as the Soda Poppers can grate on the ears. Players might also notice that Max's voice was recast in the second episode, but they didn't replace the original voice actor's performance in the generic examine lines for subsequent episodes.

The music is absolutely first-rate. Jared Emerson-Johnson's score is both lively and diverse, dabbling in film noir jazz, show tune musical numbers, and even techno. In addition, there are new compositions that feel right at home and even improve certain scenes from the original game.

What's the verdict?

"Sam & Max Save the World Remastered" boasts just enough content to justify the price of admission, but there's no denying that the game has limited lasting appeal. Even though it had been about a decade since I last beat it, I breezed through the first 4 episodes with no problem, and only found myself getting stumped in the final 2 episodes. However, for the visuals, humor, and music, I'm able to give "Sam & Max" a marginal recommendation.

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