Sam & Max Save the World Remastered Xbox One Review

August 25, 2021

Back in 2006, then-fledgling company Telltale Games had a radical new idea for episodic gaming content, and they knew just the property to launch it. Based on Steve Purcell’s dryly comedic comic series and classic LucasArts adventure game, Sam & Max was the first episodic game series that got Telltale noticed by the industry at large, before they’d move on to bigger projects like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the first season was released (mostly because I can remember it being one of the first games I ever reviewed), and while Telltale Games has run since then, the newly-formed Skunkape Games has sprung from its former staff, making it their mission to remaster the original Sam & Max seasons.

Their revision of the first Sam & Max season, since retitled Sam & Max Save the World Remastered, has just been released on Xbox One, after an initial release on Switch and PC late last year. The remaster is actually more substantial than you may be expecting, as Skunkape have actually gone in and made a bevvy of tweaks, enhancements and changes that really make this feel more like a ‘Director’s Cut’ than a simple upgrade in resolution.

As well as wide-screen support, the in-game lighting has been totally revamped, allowing for dynamic and dramatic colour effects, shadows and changes in mood and atmosphere, rather than the rather flat look of the original. Exterior shots of the locations Sam & Max visit, absent from the original, have been added. Sam & Max have new character models, with improved animation. The timing of jokes and camera angles have been changed to help jokes land better, or add drama. The character Bosco has a completely new voice actor, and he does a pretty great job throughout. There’s even a lot more references to Sam & Max’s esoteric history, with new allusions to Sam & Max Hit the Road from LucasArts, new comic-like pop-up item descriptions that resemble the cancelled Sam & Max: Freelance Police game, and even a new opening credits sequence that references the original Gametap trailer for Sam & Max: Season One. There’s a lot here for fans to enjoy, and the love and effort Skunkape have put in, from a fan’s perspective, is truly impressive.

The original Sam & Max Save the World is a collection of six adventures that pit the crime-fighting duo against a series of cases involving hypnotism. Sam is an overly verbose but relatively logical dog detective, while Max is a hyperkinetic Luger-carrying rabbity-thing who’s constantly on the verge of extreme violence. Together, they’re assigned increasingly bizarre missions, from stopping former child-celebrities hypnotising audiences, to undermining the ‘toy mafia’, to running Max against the re-animated robotic Lincoln Memorial for president.

While the premises are bonkers, and the better episodes take advantage of the insanity, this wasn’t Telltale’s funniest season of Sam & Max. The writing sneaks in a few laugh-out-loud moments, but generally settles in for a reasonable chuckle every so often, with a pattern of Sam explaining something in an overly elaborate way, and Max interjecting with something randomly violent. There are some dated references too, but the good news is that Telltale improved with each season of Sam & Max until their best one, The Devil’s Playhouse, which is hopefully due for a remaster in the near future.

The gameplay in Sam & Max Save the World Remastered harkens back to point-and-click adventure games of the 90’s, where Sam & Max must be guided around environments, collecting weird items and identifying the correct opportunity to use them to further the story, with an occasional dialogue-tree puzzle thrown in. Back in the day when these episodes came out month-to-month, the re-use of many locations each episode was a little disappointing, but fares better when the episodes are collected as one cohesive package here.

On Xbox, absent of a mouse for pointing-and-clicking, Skunkape have opted for using the left analogue stick to move Sam, and the right analogue stick to cycle between points of interest on-screen to interact with. It’s honestly a bit clunky and not as elegant as a mouse, but it is admittedly better than replicating a mouse cursor on-screen like the original Xbox 360 ports attempted to do. There’s also currently some frame-rate issues on Xbox, even playing on Xbox Series X, where (I would assume) it should be capable of running at 60fps, but remains somewhat choppy at the moment.

From what I’ve seen giving a cursory glance to YouTube, Sam & Max might be seeing a bit of a resurgence in popularity, and if so then hopefully Sam & Max Save the World Remastered can find a new audience for the dynamic duo who never had the opportunity to play the original game. The puzzles are fairly easy save a couple towards the end of the season, and Telltale had better laughs  in Beyond Time & Space and The Devil’s Playhouse, but Save the World is nonetheless a fun time that whooshes past with short, fast-paced episodes, and a breathless sense of insanity. Skunkape has also done a bang-up job bringing Save the World into the modern era, making for a much improved experience over the original.


-Skunkape Games has done a fantastic remaster job, which feels more like a 'Director's Cut'
-A series of sensible chuckles throughout the six episodes
-Cool music throughout by Jared Emerson-Johnson
-Adventure gameplay still holds up


-Choppy framerate on Xbox, clunky controls
-Future Sam & Max seasons got much funnier, and improved on the gameplay here

Overall Score: