Sam & Max Hit the Road, released by LucasArts in 1993, marks the video game debut of the infamous dog/rabbit crime-fighting duo.
Created by artist Steve Purcell, Sam & Max are “freelance police” and basically engage in a series of surreal mysteries involving bigfoot, and a whole host of other weird characters and strange situations.
The game begins with an animated cut scene that sets the tone, and then you have to use Sam & Max to find your way into the story. The control system is mouse-based and you use right-click to cycle through five cursor icons – walk, look, take, talk, and use. Left-clicking one of these ‘verb’ icons on a specific object or person on-screen, or in your inventory (a brown cardboard box!), will usually illicit some sort of response. The simplified control system is a joy to use, at least compared to other SCUMM games. Not having the usual verb list frees up the screen to hold more great graphics. And the graphics in Sam & Max, I think, are some of the best, most iconic, and most memorable visuals of the PC DOS era.
Like most point-and-click adventures: Hit the Road is extremely challenging. Playing is easy enough, but solving puzzles and making your way into the game is not easy. But it is very much worth it. The surreal nature of Sam & Max Hit the Road sometimes means that the nature of the puzzles is beyond anything you might have ever seen, but that’s okay. Just go with it…
My favourite parts: “Holy mackerel!” – “I’m a trout, stupid!” – “Holy trout!”, or Max retrieving the message from the cat… And my favourite character has to be the foul-mouthed, spanner-bending, turban-wearing man in the revolving restaurant. He still makes me crease up with laughter today… Sam & Max Hit the Road is packed full of wacky characters, crazy dialogue, and dangerous stunts. There are even a bunch of “minigames” hidden away in there too…
Often referred to as one of the best video games ever made, Sam & Max Hit the Road is probably the best adventure game LucasArts ever produced. It’s certainly one of funniest games I’ve ever played and will appeal to anyone with a sense of humour.
If you’re one of those with a low tolerance to frustration, play it with a walkthrough. There’s no shame in it. 🙂
U.S. Gold published the game in the UK in 1993. A number of sequels have also been released over the intervening years.
See also: Sam & Max Comics
More: Sam & Max Hit the Road on Wikipedia
Steam: Sam & Max Hit the Road on Steam
GOG.com: Sam & Max Hit the Road on GOG.com