Sam & Max Episode 1 – iPad review

There are so many cool duos out there, and Sam & Max are among the quirkiest. The sensible canine Sam combined with the crazed rabbit Max are yet again tracking down peril to choke it out. This time the duo has to stop the intergalactic menace called Skunk’ape.

Sam & Max has got the gameplay of point and click adventures with some own ideas thrown in. Controlling Sam is done by using a virtual stick, and he moves about slowly getting stuck on corners. Key points of interest shown as blue dots can be interacted with directly by touching them. An inventory lets Sam examine and use items on the scenery. We are not given direct control over Max, but rather use his new mental abilities to raze some hell. He can see the future, teleport and whatnot depending on the equipped paranormal item. The view of Max is controlled by touching, and dragging where you want to look.

img_00371The story in the Episode 1 is quite amusing, and always over the top. Dynamic duos are always at their best when there is a lot of difference between the characters. Sam & Max are as far apart as possible, and the sound of reason talking to the sound of mental illness is a clash worth cherishing. You also get to use the COPS car with a couple of minds on its own.

The presentation is great, and the iPad is perfect for this type of game. Cool voice acting together with a nice jazzy soundtrack makes the game a feast for the senses. Sure the graphics can’t really be compared to a high end PC, but still it is detailed and rich in color. Text portions are well sized, and easy to read.

img_0038Episode 1 is the first out of five episodes constituting the “The Devil’s Playhouse”. There should be about 1-2 hours of gameplay for each episode depending on your level of weird problem solving. I say should as I have not been able to finish this episode yet due to really nasty technical issues. I can stand long loading times for the great presentation I am given. But it chugs along, and the audio cuts out. Sam moves about like walking on glue, and switching to Sam’s psychic power always makes the game slow down. I have used the old iPhone 1.0 solution with restarting the iPad, but the problems keep reappearing. As no update has surfaced for the past month and a half I doubt developers Telltale Games will address the issues. I also doubt that I will ever finish even the first episode with these problems unaddressed. Let alone go ahead, and take a chance on a second episode.

I expected much more from the iPad Sam & Max than I got. Sure the basic game is really good, with over the top humor and some nice problem solving. The technical issues make it unbearable, and I can’t recommend the game to even the most hardcore fan. Get it for the PC instead, and as far as I know that will make the complete game cheaper in the end.

Final Rating


Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone $6.99 sale price
Version: 1
Seller: Telltale Games

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  • Jonny Ree

    Thanks for the review. I absolutely love Sam and Max as well the Telltale games as they keep getting better by every release. I already own the PC version of this, and wanted this on the iPod to have something on the go. I was afraid performance was going to be an issue, seeing how graphically intensive the game is. On a PC it really doesn’t look like more than shaders heavy. But there are quite a few polygons there once you start to look at it in terms of the iPad.

    So with that in mind, I hope they’re able to squeeze enough performance out of future releases as more Adventure games on the iPad would be brilliant.

    Although it is sad to see how this release is still left untouched despite the customer feedback.