Sam and Max Hit the Road
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you have probably heard about the LucasArts games that are now available on GOG. While X-Wing and Tie Fighter may have captured the attention of many retro gamers, I was immediately drawn to some of the other LucasArts titles that were re-released. Sam and Max Hit the Road and Monkey Island were two of my earliest gaming experiences. Considering how popular Pajama Sam was with Mae, I thought either of these adventure games would be a hit.
I went with Sam and Max Hit the Road because it was on sale for only $6 and I remember getting this game for PC when I was a kid and thinking it was absolutely hilarious. Now I’ll have to admit, other than maintaining a lingering appreciation for the game, I haven’t kept up with the Sam and Max series over the years, so time may have softened my memory of some of the more adult themes found within Sam and Max. It appears that both my mother and I were entranced by the anthropomorphic dog and rabbit and thus blissfully unaware of the target demographic for this highly regarded point and click. In my defense, the description page on GOG didn’t really include a clear rating or recommended age for the game, so nostalgia set in and I went ahead and purchased the game without really researching it, relying solely on my memory of a game that I haven’t played in roughly two decades.
The game starts out with a few jokes that are innocent enough, but before long the crudeness sets in. Within minutes, our heroes are walking the streets splattered with blood (spaghetti sauce, as I explained it to Mae) and lined with intoxicated pigeons (they had too much root beer). A few expletives later, we found ourselves outside of a run-down gas station, Snuckey’s, a nod to the Stuckey’s franchise that dots the American highway system (and the pecan candy reference is hilarious). Shortly after we picked up a cup from outside of the gas station and went inside, Max started asking to use the bathroom. Admittedly, we were having a hard time finding the facilities for Max to use, so Mae actually suggested that we let him use the giant cup we found outside to relieve himself in. At this point it felt like the game was affecting Mae in a way I wasn’t comfortable with, so I thought it might be a good idea to have Mae go color or something while I got us through some of the more crass parts of the game.
I continued playing and had Mae participate in a few of the mini-games like Whack-a-Rat and Highway Surfin’, which she picked up quickly and enjoyed a lot. Mae really liked the Whack-A-Rat game because you can just sit there bonking Max instead of the rats. Now don’t get me wrong, this game is really good. It is a lot funnier than I remember as a kid, considering that I can now appreciate all of the adult humor. The voice acting is top notch and the animation is great..like really great. The World’s Largest Ball of Twine is just fun to look at and explore. I really enjoy this game and I think that when Mae is older, she might too. At this point the humor and themes are too mature for her.
Up until this point, I never paid much attention to ratings on games, but now that I am responsible for choosing the games for Mae to enjoy, I had better pay a little more attention. Monkey Island and Wacky Wheels are also available on GOG and they seem a bit more Mae-friendly. I never thought twice about ESRB ratings, but as the parent of a tiny gamer, I can say that I am glad that we have a pretty solid rating system in place. I just have to be mindful that until 1994, there wasn’t a formal rating council, so those games should be looked at with a little more scrutiny to make sure they are appropriate for her.