Hilarious point-and-click adventure game by Lucasarts. The comic book duo of Sam and Max go out to trace down the two star attractions from Kushman Brothers Circus, a bigfoot and a giraffe-necked girl (NOT the block of ice). Watch Sam and Max trash roadside attractions like the World's Largest Ball of Twine, the World of Fish, and, of course, Frog Rock. Play some Carbomb, go highway surfing, all from the comfort of your DeSoto!

Almost always seen with a copy of Day of the Tentacle, given that it was sold with the Lucasarts Collection Volume 1.

Featured the stylization that only Sam and Max could handle. Even the copy protection was fun. In the manual, there were a lot of pics of Sam and Max wearing crazy things like snorkels and turbans. You had to match up the outfit on a certain page to play. Of course, just like all copy-protection of the era, it was so easily beatable. I usually could remember the outfit in question. What's traipsing, Sam? Does it hurt?

Sam & Max Hit the Road was also nefariously infamous for its departure from the original tried-and-true SCUMM interface. Instead of DOTT's relatively elegant (but, as it were, not completly full-screen) interface, LucasArts adopted a slightly more Sierra-esque interface. A lot of fans griped and complained that it was not as intuitive or even as pleasant to use as, say, DOTT or Monkey Island 2.

That is, until these people figured out how to use the keyboard.

The shortcuts on the keyboard greatly help. If you keep your finger on the W key while playing, you can instantly switch back to WALK. Since LOOK is only one right-click away, and GET is two right-clicks away, the WALK key is essential for fast gameplay. Even better, the USE key - found by pressing U - is so damn conveniently near the W key.

The reason for the change, it seems, was to provide the player with a more in-depth gaming experience - that is, full screen graphics. While not intuitive or as elegant as the previous SCUMM games, at least it's not as much of a pain in the ass as the single-click "one-cursor-does-all" hell of King's Quest 7 or Phantasmagoria.

One thing the game cannot run from, however, is the desperate fucking lack of a TRAVEL icon somewhere. Or, at least, a speed control. You can fall asleep waiting for Sam to waltz his way around the Mystery Vortex!

To tell you the truth, I found the game/characters OK, but somewhat lacking, if only because...

1950's hipster humor (which this is trying, in a somewhat noirish way to emulate) is, in essence, quite snobbish and self-centered: although it's averred that hipster/Beats DIG EVERYTHING, and would love to see America as the bounteous land of Woody Guthrie anthems and FDR's vision, they find very little to like in the flyover states -- the people are laughably (and often horrifically) provincial, bigoted, and ignorant, the landscape is mostly monotonous, broken only by architecture of such a vulgarity as to set one's teeth on edge, and anyway, it's hard to find the necessities of life, like reliable sources of drugs, be-bop records, and the Evergreen Review. What these hard-core urbanites do find to love, if you read On The Road, et.al is either freely available sex (with a charmingly innocent young thing they can ditch a day later) or a suitably enigmatic exchange with some elder who perfectly echoes their thoughts (who might have been an hallucination). That, the first time they see a broad horizon, and the inevitable cries of reunion as they find another group of like-minded souls, who come as a much-needed oasis in the air-conditioned nightmare of darkest America.

So, what has this to do with a cartoon dog and rabbit? Well, in translating this sensibility into something like childrens comix and updating the leftism to that of the Nineties, the whole sick-humor undertow gets castrated. Sam and Max are comically amoral, cheerily tossing a bomb out of the window, and leaving a fisherman floating face-down in the water, but I'm supposed to be learning a moral lesson from their rescue of the Bigfoots from Conroy Bumpus (and various other parties) which they do without any discernible change of plan. We don't think hat acts aren't all that funny anymore, even if sung by Brits (Bad Company, anyone?) and we aren't horrified by most of the roadside attractions listed (the traveling carnival, the dino parks, the Giant Ball of Twine) anymore either, since they're almost as endangered a species as...well, Bigfeet and DeSotos. Making this story into a crypto-ecological sermon just doesn't jibe well with the die-hard urbanism of the characters, Gary Snyder notwithstanding, and to top it off, if you've noticed, neither one of the main characters drinks, smokes, or lusts...which is one of the defining characteristics of this kind of detective story....and of UG comix, too, come to think of it.

None of this should bother me, I know. It was a very enjoyable game, and should be played, perhaps, with Steely Dan in the background. But it does.

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