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Sam & Max Save the World Remastered Review

The Tingler, issuing (paraphrased) ultimatums in his 2007 “Save the World” review:

You want a perfect five-skull review[,] Telltale? You better heed my warnings.

Thumb Episode selection screen looks appropriately comic book-y.

If I was to give an elevator summation of the Save the World remaster, I would say it’s less of an isolated improvement than a sharpened beginning of an enhanced, overarching trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, the changes are impressive in themselves – more about that in a bit – but I get the distinct feeling that Skunkape is setting out to make a whole lot more cohesive version of Telltale’s Sam & Max games. This is the first step; a successful first step at that.

The most pronounced improvements are in the visuals. Think of it like BOTOX®: Everything looks newer, but you can still recognize what lies beneath. Of course, unlike BOTOX®, Save the World reduces the shine and actually looks a lot better than the original. OK, BOTOX® might have been a horrible analogy, but you get my point. The remaster is now well within the style of a comic book, a large step away from the original’s sterile aesthetics. New lighting sources and proper outlines make all the difference. To wit:

Too, improved camera dynamics make the world feel immersive, akin to the trilogy’s later entries. And as a bonus, a handful of the original’s godawful Font Squirrel typefaces have been swapped out with something not from a mid-nineties used-car commercial. Save starting development from scratch, I’m not sure we could expect Save the World to look more souped-up than this. It’s all of a sudden right up there with The Devil’s Playhouse.

On the audio side, Skunkape has mercifully swapped out the white label Hit the Road theme with a brand new Jared Emerson-Johnson track, one that leans on the game’s – trilogy’s – recognizable cues. It’s a great addition. Other tracks have received a polish, too. The office theme, a cue that ranks high in LEC+’s body of music, has been overhauled and sounds better than ever. Save the World already sounded terrific, but I gladly take any improvements I can get.

Thumb Representation matters.

Recasting Bosco – socially and conscionably the correct decision – worked out well, and it does not detract from the game in any way. The new actor does a great job, landing each punchline. Should you, for whatever reason, have any issues with the recast, I’m sure Proud Boys has a warm seat open for you.

I played the remaster on the Switch, and the “new” controls work largely as I expected them to. You can use the sticks and buttons console style or opt for a direct “point and click” touch-screen method. I ended up jumping between them, and that worked seamlessly. There’s nothing surprising with the controls, and that’s great. They just work without any fuss while staying out of your face.

All of it adds up to a remaster that clearly has been a labor of love. Throughout, there are less noticeable changes – note the added date on one of the boxes in Sam and Max’s office – and some surprises. (Note the drive up to the casino.)

Your enjoyment of the core game will come down to how you felt about the original. Improvements across the board tighten the game, but Save the World is still Save the World. That, to me, is perfectly acceptable. Fourteen years later, and I still find it to be a good game. Uneven? Sure. Some of the jokes fall flat, some of the puzzles haven’t aged too well, and the two next games are objectively better in every way. That doesn’t make Save the World any less enjoyable; I wholeheartedly recommend it based on the writing alone.

As for the remastering: