XBLA Review: Sam and Max – Beyond Time and Space

Sam and Max make their second XBLA outing with even better results…

The two Sam and Max seasons have been out on PC for quite a while now. The XBLA version of Season 1 came out a few months ago and it was great, apart from a few framerate and audio issues holding it back. I’ve always considered the second season to be the better of the two and now it’s available for everyone for XBLA. Beyond Time and Space may have one episode less than Save the World, but it’s all the better for it.
The first episode sees Sam and Max’s office attacked by a large robot known as Maimtron 9000. It turns out that the robot was sent as a gift from Santa and so the duo head to the North Pole to see what is going on. Each episode plays an important part towards the climax of the season and this is no different. The formula of puzzle-solving from the first season remains intact. There are no real surprises to be found in terms of gameplay, but for those who haven’t played the season…there are a few twists in the story to be found.

Each episode takes about 2-3 hours to do, although it depends on if you know what you are doing. Some puzzles can be pretty tough, but most are fairly easy. Some would have liked it if XBLA allowed games to use a mouse as this game is perfect for just that. The cursor is moved by the analog stick and it can sometimes be a bit problematic…not so much that it stops you from playing the game, but it does take some getting used to.

The framerate and audio problems from Save the World still persist in Beyond Time and Space. It’s a shame, but there are kept to a minimum this time around. I won’t lie and say it’s perfect, there are times where it can be pretty bad…but they are few and far between. Look past that and you will still find a great season from Telltale.
The achievements in Beyond Time and Space are more challenging than in the first XBLA game. This time they ask you to collect every decal for your DeSoto car and get the uber upgrade. This can be quite challenging as they require you to do driving challenges and you can’t drive and shoot at the same time like in the PC version. It was tough but with some persistence, I got them all and a full 200 gamerscore from the game.

I guess my opinion of Beyond Time and Space is a little biased because I enjoyed both seasons so much on the PC, plus my gamertag is Maimtron 9000. I got hooked on the humour of the duo and implore everyone to give at least one episode a go. It’s not to everyone’s tastes I promise, but if you get it and like it then you will simply have a blast with this great collection. The price point of 1600 Microsoft Points may seem a bit steep for some, but you are getting 5 episodes here…so it’s more than value for money.

The Verdict

Sam and Max: Beyond Time and Space still has a few hiccups with framerate and audio, but underneath beats the heart of a true gaming comedy series. I highly recommend you at least give the trial a download.