Sam and Max Beyond Time and Space is the latest of the series to hit XBox Live Arcade and while it improves on some aspects over its predecessors there are also some problems that remain. This title features five episodes for you to play through sending you to various locales such as the North Pole, Easter Island and many more. The sense of humor is one of the things that has been improved on and I chuckled at more than a few of the “inside” jokes. I particularly liked the joke of “I’ve heard j-rpg characters talk more” when Sam and Max were dealing with someone who didn’t speak.
When you start the game you are given the choice to play any of the episodes, however, I started out with episode one and went from there. In this episode you have to save Christmas as well as Santa Claus himself. To do this you have to go back and forth from the North Pole to your neighborhood so you can collect various items and try to correct some mistakes that you have made in the past. There’s a bit of time travel here as you briefly jump to the past, present and future but it really doesn’t amount to anything much except you going to that time period, giving someone something and then going on your way. As you progress there are puzzles that you have to solve and there is a feature where you can choose the frequency that you will receive hints on how to solve these puzzles. If you don’t want any hints you can completely turn it off, however, you can also have it to where if you are stuck for a while then you will get nudged in the right direction with a hint. There are also minigames that you will come across throughout your adventure such as driving mini games as well as a boxing one that you will encounter in the “Ice Station Santa” episode.
If you are not familiar with the Sam and Max series of games they are point and click adventures. Obviously this works tremendously on your computer, however, not so much on consoles. The cursor is way to easy to lose and, at times, can be a bit too sensitive flying over the screen quickly. Additionally this game also suffers from frame rate problems. This game isn’t exactly graphically intensive so there really is no excuse for having these kinds of problems. It takes you out of the experience when you are playing the game and all of a sudden it stutters when it is transitioning to a cut scene or whatever else you might be doing. There were a couple of times where it took a few seconds to get up to speed and I thought my XBox had frozen until the cut scene started.
Overall, if you like point and click adventure games, then I definitely reccommend giving this one a try. Since it has a free demo you can see if this is the game for you before you have to spend any money. It does have some problems, however, if you like the Sam and Max style of humor you should get a kick out of these episodes. It also is pretty cool to see everything pay off at the end once you get to the end of an episode. I don’t want to ruin anything for people who enjoy this type of game but you will definitely meet some memorable characters as you progress through the episodes. This would also be a great family title where everyone could help to solve the puzzles and try to figure out what is going on. There are a whole bunch of titles out right now, however, if you just want to kick back and relax be sure to give this one a try.