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Sam And Max The Devil’s Playhouse {PC Game Review}


Sam is a six-foot dog in a baggy suit sporting a trombone-sized .44 hand-cannon. Max is three feet of pure unleashed id with a saw blade grin and the impulsive nature of the average piranha. Together they patrol the sticky streets of a fantastical New York City, righting wrongs, pummeling perps, and ridding the urban landscape of the shifty legions of “self-propelled gutter trash” that litter their streets. Sam & Max is Telltale’s longest running episodic game series to date.

The new season Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse is the biggest, strangest and most epic to date. As the saga begins, an otherworldy power for controlling matter and space calls to the strongest and strangest who might wield it – intergalactic warlords and eldritch gods, under-dwellers and scholars of the arcane.

Gaming’s greatest dog and rabbit sleuths Sam & Max seek the power’s ancient secrets, as Max gains shape shifting, teleportation, mind reading and future vision abilities for battling these foes. The saga plays out in a surreal 5 month-long symphony of mayhem that gets deeper and more twisted with each episode.

Sam and Max got their start in comics in 1987, courtesy of creator Steve Purcell. They have appeared in a number of formats over the years: videogames, an award-winning animated series, an Eisner-winning web comic, and the Eisner-nominated comic anthology Surfin’ the Highway.

My husband is huge fan of the Sam and Max games so he willing volunteered to review this game on my behalf! Here are his thoughts…

I love Sam and Max. I played the original game. I watched the TV cartoon until some villainous scum-sucking practicing malfeasance canceled it. I danced with elation and ecstatic joy when I heard a new game was coming. I cried bitter tears of sorrow when I got canceled. I proposed to marry TellTale Games when the picked up the broken pieces and started releasing Sam and Max games in seasons. (the restraining order is still in effect.) When my wife (whose blog I’m invading) bought me seasons one and two of the Sam and Max games, I kissed her for so long she passed out and I had to look up CPR on Google.

And now there is a third season. Needless to say I was happy to see it. When I got to play it for free as a reviewer, I made TellTale a quilt, but apparently that is also not allowed with the restraining order, so it got returned in the mail. Anyways, instead of reading about all my problems, you want to know about the game, don’t you?

One of the first things I noticed when I started The Penal Zone (Episode one of The Devil’s Playhouse aka Sam and Max Season 3) was the staples of all Sam and Max games was present: Zany humor, threats of gratuitous and comical violence, and my two favorite heroes, Sam and Max (well, that last one is pretty obvious, but I wanted to be thorough.)

The things I noticed that were different were all good things. The graphics seemed to be a bit nicer (on the same ancient computer I’ve been using for years) than the previous two seasons. Also the user interface is nicely upgraded and is very nice.*

*I actually said the user interface was ‘double rainbow’ but Erin edited that out

One of the new UI features are the ability to walk around freely with the keyboard. I found walking around in seasons 1 and 2 a bit cumbersome and limiting, but all that is gone now. You can still move by clicking, and now you can hold the mouse button down. All ways work nicely. The inventory system is upgraded as well. Now when you look at it, you get the options to pick it up (to combine with something else,) examine it, or use it. This allows for more options and easier control of the items, also better than the previous two seasons.

The conversation system is much better now, too. Instead of simply a vertical list of things to talk about, you get a circular menu with the options. Like many games of this type, you can follow the same topic several times. What would normally happen would be you’d keep clicking that topic, then when you’d heard all of them, you’d click a final time, to hear a repeat part of the conversation. Now when you’ve heard the final part, it’s grayed out, so you know you’ve heard it all. You can still listen again if you want, but you wont waste time hearing stuff twice on accident.

Brand new to this season is Max Mode, where you get to do all kinds of insane things, like turn Max into a plant, or teleport using memorized phone numbers (Max keeps track, so you don’t have too.) This adds a fun element to the game, and more chance for mayhem.

There is also a narrator who appears in scenes that remind me of the G Man in the Half-Life games. I’m not sure if this in intentional, but there were a couple other events that seemed to be homages to other games, probably favorites of the developers. I could be wrong, but even so, they made me smile

This game is great for anyone who likes solving brain bending puzzles, witty dialogue that will make you laugh so hard you soil your shoes, and for anyone who loves my favorite type of game: The adventure game. I thought it was a dying breed, but TellTale (among others) have made it live again.

If you’ve never played a Sam and Max game, I say start from the beginning (way in the beginning if you can find the original.) You’ll get the whole storyline that way. Even though season 3 has several improvement over season’s 1 and 2, it’s no reason to skip them. However, if for some reason you like to read the middles of books and start a movie halfway through, you will probably enjoy the game anyways. There’s plenty of reference to past adventures though, so be ready to wish you’d started from the beginning. However, you can get all three seasons for half the price, and you get a whole heck of a lot of game for the money. If the amount of game you got were a TV dinner and you ate the whole thing, you could burp enough gas to fill a hole in the ozone layers (if you have any clue what I’m talking about, you get 10 points.)

Buy it: You can learn more about this game at  http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax/thedevilsplayhouse and the game can be purchased straight from the Tell Tale Games site for either MAC, PC, and a number of other gaming platforms like the iPad, PS3, and more for just 34.95 for all three episodes!

Disclaimer: I received Sam and Max The Devil’s Playhouse game to review as a member of the Game Review Network. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

Puzzle Agent by Telltale Games {PC Game Review}


What the heck is going in Scoggins, Minnesota? When White House inquiries to the Scoggins Eraser Co. are answered only with curious puzzles, the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research’s Nelson Tethers is sent on the case.

The strange case of Scoggins plunges Tethers into a mystery that will challenge every ounce of his expertise, and possibly his very wits too. He must overcome brainteasers at every turn, including mazes, logic puzzles and riddles, and he soon realizes that these – along with the clinically pre-occupied townspeople, secret societies, and mysterious sounds from the forest – are intimately connected to the core conundrum. And what’s with the gnomes?


My husband is big into puzzle games so he willing volunteered to review this game on my behalf! Here are his thoughts on Puzzle Agent…

I’d heard mentions on TellTale Games Twitter account of Puzzle Agent and was pretty excited to have the chance to give it a try. Before I get started I want to note that I had a review version of the game, so the few minor gripes I have might be fixed in the version you can buy now (and the versions soon to be available in the Apple store and on the Wii.)

I’ve been a fan of adventure games since the first time my dad brought home a 486 machine that ran MS DOS and games came on 3.5 in disks. When I heard that TellTale was bringing back some of my old favorites (Monkey Island and Sam and Max) and some of my new favorites (Strong Bad), they were my new best friends. The puzzle adventure games are making a comeback. The world is returning to balance. One of their latest creations in Puzzle Agent.

Puzzle Agent follows Nelson Tether’s Puzzle Agent through a mystery in a small town of Scoggins, MN. The eraser factory is shut down, and they make the erasers for the White House, so this situation needs solved fast.

I mentioned several other adventure games, so I’d like to clarify what Puzzle Agent is not: It’s not the same as other adventure games where you come across ‘world puzzles’ such as a wire over a chasm and you have to find the right rubber chicken (with a pulley in the middle) to get across, and you aren’t collecting items to combine them in different ways to solve other problems. What Puzzle Agent is though is a mystery adventure in which you come across stand alone puzzles. For instance one puzzle is in a diner and the waitress is distracted, so you solve a logic puzzle with some clues to figure out which dishes go to which customer. In another instance a stovepipe breaks and you have to turn the puzzle pieces to put it back together. When you aren’t interviewing the townsfolk, you are solving a puzzle.

One of the things I like about the mystery part of the game is the game doesn’t tell me what to think about the mystery. It unravels as you go, but I am allowed to put those pieces of the puzzle together in my head without the game telling me there they go. I like that.

An area the game falls short in is a few of the puzzles are entirely confusing with the info you start with, and you are required to use a hint, or guess, to get anywhere, at least that happened for me. Most are clear and are explained perfectly, but a couple fall short. Thankfully, there are a lot of puzzles, so the few I didn’t like didn’t take away from the game much. One though, I’m positive there were two ways to read the clues, and one was wrong and the other right.

I do like the hint system. Nelson needs to chew gum to think, so you find gum in different places to spend on hints. When you are stuck, you spend some gum and get a hint, each one giving you a more powerful hint. Use it sparingly though, because using clues lowers your score, plus it’s much more fun to figure them out by yourself, or with the help of a friend. You can play this multiplayer, just pull up another chair and solve all the puzzles together, or just when you need an extra set of eyes to see the problem from a different perspective.

In a few cases, the puzzle theme is entire arbitrary.  What I mean by that is the puzzle to solve has nothing to do with the situation at hand. It’s like someone said ‘there has to be a puzzle here’ and someone else said ‘I have a spare one’. That doesn’t mean they were bad puzzles, but it’d be nice if they always matched the situation at hand. Most do anyways. There are also just puzzles everywhere, even when it would seem a bit silly, but not only does the game poke a little bit of fun at itself for doing it, it’s expected (you know, because it’s called Puzzle Agent,) so suspend your disbelief and enjoy the puzzles.

Overall, Puzzle Agent is an enjoyable and fun. The voice acting it top notch. The lines are delivered without sounding forces or scripted. The art style is different that any other game I’ve seen and is unique and enjoyable without being a distraction. In a few cases, like the aforementioned waitress, shows a ton of emotion just in the way she’s drawn.

Puzzle Agent is a must have for a lover of puzzles. There are many different types to solve, along with a mystery.  TellTale Games is bringing back my favorite type of game, so do me a favor and help them make more by getting a copy of Puzzle Agent today, then getting one for your friends.

The following are known issues that will be fixed in the release build:

  • Occasional minor graphics glitches
  • Minor animation glitches
  • Some sound effects missing
  • Some typos / spelling errors

PC System Requirements:

Operating system: Windows XP / Vista
Processor: 2.0 GHz + (3 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent rec.)
Memory: 512MB (1GB rec.) Sound: DirectX 8.1 sound device
Video: 64MB DirectX 8.1-compliant video card (128MB rec.)
DirectX: Version 9.0c or better

Buy it: You can learn more about this game at  http://www.telltalegames.com/puzzleagent and the game can be purchased straight from the Tell Tale Games site for either MAC or PC for just 9.95.

Disclaimer: I received this review as a member of the Game Review Network. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.

Intelligender Winner!

Winners

Intelligender Gift Basket winner is #17 – Stephanie Grant!
She wrote: Wow this is awesome I was just telling my husband this morning that I wonder if they offer a test you can take at home to determin if your having a boy or girl! We are trying to get preg right now and I am deffantly going to use one of these!

( all winners have been chosen using a random.org)

Congratulations to you all! Please reply back to the email I send with your full name and address.
NO PO Boxes allowed! Winners have 48 hrs to contact me or another winner will be chosen.