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Why I lost interest after EPISODE 1

posted by mikdog on - last edited - Viewed by 3.3K users

I know I'm not helluva popular around here.

Anyway, I was thinking yesterday while making some lunch why I never bought the rest of the SAM & MAX SEASON 1 episodes. I didn't give it much thought, and thought about something else. Then I thought I should try and figure out WHY exactly I didn't buy the rest of the season, because Telltale would probably like to know. I do this out of my former love of Sam & Max. (Love the first game and the comics, but not this season. Instead of saying 'because it sucks' I tried to put my finger on it. It's the story. I didn't buy it. The premise is that these wackos are small-time criminals trying to take over the world. I get that. But...they're just not believable enough, and don't plug into any existing archetypal baddies to make we even WANT to know what happens in subsequent episodes. Then I watched a little clip of Max in the White House, and I bought that (I didn't buy the game, I just thought it was cool that I could transfer all my pre-existing ideas of the White House onto this little movie clip where Max is sitting in the president's chair.)

So, it was the lackluster story that prevented me from buying any more episodes. I played through EPISODE 1, but I kind of knew in future episodes I'd be doing the same thing - clicking on stuff, driving the cop car, busting wacko's, and only really playing through to hear Sam & Max's quips. If the story were more BELIEVABLE and more was at risk, I might be prone to thinking a bit more about it and liking it a bit more. But, any cops could be doing Sam & Max's work, and the thing could just as well be an animated show without my help. It plays like that. Sam & Max's lives are never REALLY at risk, and the criminals don't have any human traits that I can relate to. Normally the story's a bit more complex where the villain has something admirable, or used to be mates with the good guys. The baddies in the first episode were merely IRRITATING. You get the sense that all the characters in the game are kind of relaxed and not really too concerned with what's happening. All a bit introspective, although I know that's a part of S&M's personalities...I think it works in the comics and the first game because the art was so great. It was a nice juxtaposition. But in the new series, the graphics aren't enough of a pulling point for me to tip the scales.

Without trying to sound too much like a whining granny, some more things that put me off were the lack of things to draw me in. In fact, I felt as though I was merely an insider looking in to this game that could live without me. The color palette was a bit wishy-washy...a bit sickly. I understand 3D's a bit tricky, but everything had this permanent omni-light Grim Fandango was better than this. The characters were a bit blocky. I understand the need for the game to run on slower machines, but I tried to see past the rough edges into the story, which there was nothing gripping.
Animation was good.

The graphics, animation and sound are all secondary. What I really am trying to get at here, is how about something a bit more EPIC? Where more is at stake, where Sam & Max are put in totally unfamiliar circumstances and surroundings, where they're really put to the test, and where the baddies are a bit cooler than dime-store thieves with harebrained schemes that end up sounding like they were cooked up by a pre-schooler taking the pi$$. It's alright if they try and take over the world, but make it GRANDER, more epic, cleverer.


(only paper I had was from my New York diary)

A back-story of how Sam & Max got to become friends and cops would also help me identify with these guys. For all I know, it's a rabbit and a dog dressed up as cops, thrown into some 3D world to fight crime. I don't get it. How did baby Max and baby Sam meet? I need to believe more in these guys.

That's why you didn't get my money the first time, Telltale. I considered just shutting up, but then you get the SILENT MAJORITY thing where you just hear the few who pat you on the back and tell you what a great job you're doing. I didn't like SEASON 1, even though I only played EPISODE 1, I didn't want to play more. In my mind, SEASON 1 was rushed and half-baked.

Make the story more epic and have Sam & Max have some personal thing they need to go up against to make there more at stake, and I might be able to look past the rough graphics and compressed sound into something much much deeper than some bratty kids using hypnosis to take over the world (Dave Grossman, c'mon bruski!)

82 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • In fairness, I don't think you can judge the whole series based on a single episode. 'I knew it would all be the same' doesn't cut it, because you don't know that from a single test run. As for epicness, I think anyone who has played the whole season will agree it gets much more so. Think how Hit The Road started off - at a circus investigating the disappearance of one of their freaks. Hardly world-breaking stuff. I'm trying not to moan too much, because it sounds as though you've just experienced too little of the game to form an opinion, and I think you might like the later episodes if your main criticism is the low-key storyline of episode one. Try to see more of it, for instance try out each of the other five demos, or go to a friend's house and play it there, if anyone has it.

    I agree with a couple of the other things you said, i.e. the interactive movie comment. I'd also like to see a more challenging set of games, but that's been discussed in lots of other places already. And the omni-light... I guess you're right, although it never bothered me too much. I like the cartoony appearance of the game in general.

  • Based on your comments, I do wonder if you have really analyzed the series over the last 15 years. It's important to remember that the comics were based on 90% interaction between characters and strange scenarios, and 10% extreme violence.

    An evil villain whose head is a fish in a bowl is more believable than Hugh Bliss? comeon now.

  • Ok, hold on, let me get this straight:

    Basically, you never played any of the later episodes. And now that they're all released and their basic contents can easily be looked up without spending a dime, you come back to state that everything you know about them is guesswork based on a single screenshot, but you know that they don't live up to your expectations. And to remind everyone that you really really hated that one episode too and the developers did a horrible job.

    But if they come and grovel for you a bit and promise to put exploding volcanoes and character death into the first ten minutes of Season 2, ep1 (just like the way it was in Hit the Road), you - and the enormous mass of people just like you - might try it.

    That about right?

  • I think the point of starting off small was so that "what started out as a local mind-control scheme [could grow] to global proportions", so it feels as though Sam and Max have inadvertently stumbled across something bigger than it seems at first.

    If the series started off on a massive scale, where to from there? Downsizing is not an option, and Sam and Max skipping from saving the world from hypnotism one month and then saving the world from some other, equally destructive, disaster the next is hardly the "believable" story you say you want.

    It's really unfair to judge the whole series on the basis of the first episode.

  • @Badwolf said: I think the point of starting off small was so that "what started out as a local mind-control scheme [could grow] to global proportions", so it feels as though Sam and Max have inadvertently stumbled across something bigger than it seems at first.

    If the series started off on a massive scale, where to from there? Downsizing is not an option, and Sam and Max skipping from saving the world from hypnotism one month and then saving the world from some other, equally destructive, disaster the next is hardly the "believable" story you say you want.

    It's really unfair to judge the whole series on the basis of the first episode.

    Hence we have 1 of the flaws of Episodic delivery. Getting people interested in a Series through the first Episode is always difficult. Starting small, then getting bigger is easier, but attracts less people (the judge based on number 1). Staring large and keeping it large is difficult to do well. Very difficult, especially since the only way is down.

    Still, people should learn to not do this, and actually try the rest of something before making up their minds. Its like arriving at a theme park, riding on 1 out of many rides, and then calling the park shit. Or watching the first five minutes of a movie and calling it boring.

  • This season really didn't leave me wanting more. After I was finished playing Hit the road, I wanted to play another game like it. After finishing the first season, all I can think of is how sick I am of Sam & Max and that they do everything again and again half a billion times(or 6 times, depending on how you count) in just a little different ways. I'm glad I bought the first season, since all in all it was a lot of fun and it was well worth the money, still I have to say that the first episode is the only episode I think I will replay for a while. I'm rather sick of the other episodes, even though I've only played through them about 2 times each, while I have played through the first episode something like 4 or 5 times. Anyway, I am not a big fan of the comics either, so it seems like Hit the road was not really typical "sam & max material", if there is such a thing as "sam & max material". I mean, the comics seems alright, but I don't laugh as much when reading them as when I am playing hit the road.

    Anyway, it's rather unfair to compare this series towards the comics or hit the road, since that was another time, and another place. Still, I think it's good that people have opinions, and I won't buy the next season, unless some miracle happens which makes the next season to be completely different from the first season(in many aspects). I think that about sums it up. - marsan out.

    "It was somebody claiming to be the commissioner who sounded exactly like the commissioner and who I think probably actually was the commissioner."

  • Yes, the story have to be more BELIEVABLE as you said, because a freelance Police with a rabbit and a talking dog are totally BELIEVABLE too. In fact, if you think that's it's a shame that a point and click is about clicking on stuff, just wait, you'll have violence and action in the next GTA ;)

    I don't really understand what you are complaining about, and in fact, judging something that you just know 1/6 looks a bit... I don't know... premature ?

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    Squinky Telltale Alumni

    I think I understand your argument, mikdog. You're into epics and stock, archetypal characters, which is the sort of thing that makes for a miniseries rather than an interactive sitcom. Fair enough; Season 1 just isn't for you. There are, after all, plenty of other games and storytelling media in existence that will suit your personal tastes.

    You also don't like the art, and that's fair enough as well. Still, that's also a matter of taste, and one that not everyone will agree with you on. It's all right. You can always go back and dust off your old copy of HTR.


  • Sam & Max is all about unbelievable stories. Half the stuff they do in the comics, cartoon, ect, doesn't make any sense. You need to step back and remember these are cartoon characters. Part of the humor is the whackiness. You can't enjoy Sam & Max without realizing that.

  • I actually do half agree with milkdog. Season one got off to a rough start, ep 1 was so so .. 2 worse .. 3 ack.. 4 and 5 pure awesome. But I think of it as ground breaking work into the episodic mind of games. This was a bold experiment and its panning out reeeally well. Or other companies wouldnt be following suit :P
    Anyway I do agree there should be a little more going on in each episode and add a few more places and things. The episodes didnt feel as if they lasted long enough and to me id rather a huge game that takes me 12 hrs than one 5-6 part game that takes me 15-20 min each to beat. But still you cant compare this to the comic, other game, or videos.
    I hope to see telltale flip heads with the next season.. maybe open doors that were not before(not literally doors) Anyway I think this was a great and bold move and in the end im glad it happened and im sure telltale is too!

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