Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse
|Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse|
The Devil's Playhouse logo
|Series||Sam & Max|
iPad: April 2, 2010
Other systems: April 15, 2010
Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse is a graphic adventure video game developed by Telltale Games. It is the third "season" of the Sam & Max episodic series created by Telltale Games, following Sam & Max Save the World and Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space. The first episode was released as one of the first apps for the iPad on April 2, 2010, and was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and the PlayStation 3 (the first Telltale game to appear on that platform) on April 15, 2010.
Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse is a series of graphic adventure games, requiring the user to control Sam and Max to specific locations, interacting with the environment, collecting and using objects, and talking to other characters in the game in order to solve puzzles and complete the game. The previous two seasons of "Sam & Max" have used a traditional point-and-click interface, which is well-suited for Windows and MacOS users but did not translate well to traditional gamepad controls. The game engine for The Devil's Playhouse has been redesigned to handle both the point-and-click scheme and typical console-based controls for third-person perspective games. On a Windows or MacOS computer, the player has the option of plugging in a gamepad to use this second set of controls. Other aspects, such as inventory management, have also been refined to better suit console players or players not familiar with the adventure game genre. The iPad version of the game features direct touch interaction with the characters, scenery, and inventory.
Whereas in previous episodes Max would follow to wherever the player directed Sam, The Devil's Playhouse gives the player direct control over both characters and the ability to swap between characters. This allows for better differentiation between the two characters and increases the variety of gameplay options. A constant theme through the series was a psychic power that Max gained in each episode, such as the ability to read minds, see glimpses of the future or teleport himself to any telephone for which he knows the number. This aspect played into the separate characters' controls in order to solve the puzzles in the game. The PlayStation 3 version of the game features an additional psychic power not present in the other versions.
The game begins with a Twilight Zone-style narrator who tells to the audience that Sam & Max have come to learn of the "Toys of Power"- seemingly harmless toys that Max is able to use to perform various psychic abilities, such as teleportation and precognition. They first use the toys to stop the alien General Skun-ka'pe from destroying the city, who has come to Earth to seek out the Toys himself, and banish him back to the Penal Zone- an interdimensional prison that he escaped previously to the episode. During this mission, the Freelance Police encounter a cult of Mole Men who have been watching over a mysterious artifact called the Devil's Toybox that has been sitting in the basement of Sam and Max's office for quite some time. By watching some dusty film reels, they learn that their great-grandparents, Sameth and Maximus, were chosen by the cryptic Mr. Papierwaite to retrieve the Toybox from the Tomb of Sammun-Mak, an ancient Pharaoh. However, when they successfully recovered it, Papierwaite attempted to use Maximus' psychic powers and the Toybox to summon the Elder God, Yog-Soggoth, and bring about the end of the world. Sameth and Maximus managed to stop Mr. Papierwaite by tricking him into saying the summoning words himself and then tasked the Mole Men of the time with watching the Toybox in the basement under their office building (they were supposed to help, too, but were unintentionally killed by a protection spell).
Just before the last reel is played, Sam goes to the bathroom and returns to find that somebody has stolen Max's brain and the Devil's Toybox. After interrogating several suspects, Sam tracks the brain thief to the Museum of Mostly Natural History, where he temporarily re-animates Max's body by putting the brain of the Pharaoh Sammun-Mak into Max's head. Together, they discover that Skun-ka'pe who has escaped the Penal Zone (after the Toybox was stolen) and that Mr. Papierwaite (who is somehow still alive) are fighting for possession of the Toybox and Max's brain. Seeing Sam, they form a temporary alliance and plan to use Max's brain to recollect the Toys of Power and energize the Toybox. Investigating the museum, Sam witnesses an exchange between Papierwaite and a seemingly invisible being called Dr. Norrington. He also meets the museum security guard Sal, a cockroach, who is working for Mr. Papierwaite who has become the museum's curator. Though Sam is able to break-up the alliance between Skun-ka'pe and Papierwaite, Sammun-Mak in Max's body activates the Toybox and creates an alternate reality where Sammun-mak rules over all. Max, who is still a brain inside a jar, Dr. Norrington and the Mole Cultists are the only ones to remember the previous reality and together, they convince Sam that he must get close to Sammun-Mak and remove his brain from Max's body. After evading both Papierwaite and Skun-ka'pe, Sam removes the mad pharaoh's brain and normal reality is restored. Sam returns Max's brain to his body but they find themselves surrounded by an army of Sam clones, who recover the Toybox and begin a search for the remaining toys.
Taking shelter along with the Stinkies and Skun-ka'pe, who is soon abducted by the clones, at Stinky's Diner, Sam and Max uncover a mysterious cloning chamber underground where the mysterious 'Clone Master' is using the clones to gather the remaining toys of power. They begin a search for the Clone Master and soon meet Mr. Papierwaite and the enigmatic Dr. Norrington who is revealed to be the elder god Yog-Soggoth. The two explain that they were fused together (which made the former immortal) when Sameth and Maximus disrupted Papierwaite's ritual in the past. Yog-Soggoth further explains that the Devil's Toybox is that of his own son, Junior, and if all the Toys are returned to it, Junior will be summoned and bring about the end of the world. Sam and Max learn that Momma Bosco is missing from Boscotech and after calling her back in a seance, she reveals that she was paid handsomely by the Clone Master to supply the technology. Sam and Max help to restore her to life using the cloning machine in exchange for her help. Back in Stinky's Diner, Flint Paper is interrogating Stinky over the mysterious underground passages and exchanges between Stinky and her lover 'Mr. S'. Sam and Max help her escape from the Diner and then follow her to a meeting with Mr. S who is revealed to be Sal. Shortly afterwards, the two fall under the control of the Clone Master but with their indirect help, Sam and Max follow the clones to where the Toybox has been taken. Before they can recover the toy box, they are stopped by Charlie Ho-Tep, an evil ventriloquist dummy and one of the Toys of Power in their possession who reveals himself to be the Clone Master. Sam and Max are captured and taken to the Statue of Liberty where Charlie Ho-Tep plans to complete the ritual to summon Junior in the hope that he will be played with again. With the help of Dr. Norrington and Papierwaite who have also been captured by Charlie, Max unleashes his psychic powers so that he no longer needs the Toys to defeat Charlie and tricks him into destroying the Toybox himself, ending the threat. However, Max accidentally swallows some of the demonic essence left by Junior, causing him to turn into a giant beast. The Giant Monster Max then stomps towards the city, leaving Sam behind, startled and confused. "Well, this is new".
Weeks later, Max has been ravaging the city and Sam forms a strike team alongside a heavily pregnant Sybil who has just returned from her honeymoon, Dr. Norrington and Papierwaite who intend to get inside Max and reverse the changes. Inside, Sam takes control of Max's giant body with the help of Sal, who dies from heavy radiation poisoning. Sam then meets with the narrator who reveals to be Max's "Super-Ego", who tells him that he plans to blow up Max's brain and take the city with it (because of Max being an amoral bunny). In order to destroy the tumour and stop the Super-Ego, Sam recovers the Cthonic Destroyer from the now teamed-up Skun-ka'pe and Girl Stinky with the help of Flint Paper but before he can use it, Sybil goes into labor and accidentally breaks it. Max's subconscious suddenly shows signs of sacrifice, wanting to save Sybil and the Super-Ego decides that he has been wrong and that he will save the city rather than destroy it. Sam and the others escape and the Super-Ego teleports Max to the location of Skun-ka'pe's ship before he explodes, seemingly killing himself and his Super-Ego, Girl Stinky and Skun-ka'pe in the process. Despite Momma Bosco's best efforts, they cannot clone Max and Sam walks off by himself. At the last moment, he is greeted by the parallel universe Max (from the previous season, Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space) who have both undergone similar experiences. Together again, the two head off on another adventure.
|"The Penal Zone"||April 2, 2010 / April 15, 2010 (April 16, 2010 on Steam)|
|"The Tomb of Sammun-Mak"||May 18, 2010 (May 20, 2010 on Steam)|
|"They Stole Max's Brain!"||June 22, 2010 (June 24, 2010 on Steam)|
|"Beyond the Alley of the Dolls"||July 20, 2010 (July 21, 2010 on Steam)|
|"The City that Dares Not Sleep"||August 30, 2010 (August 31 on PSN)|
The Devil's Playhouse is the third Sam & Max game produced by Telltale Games since acquiring the license after the cancellation of Sam & Max: Freelance Police in 2004. The game was initially expected to be released in 2009, a year after Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space. Though the game failed to materialize, towards the end of 2009 Telltale alluded to the Sam & Max sequel in the final chapter of Tales of Monkey Island, directing players to the game's preliminary website. Industry media later noted that the title Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse as well as the title of the first episode, "The Penal Zone", had been registered with the OFLC, the Australian film and video game classification body. Telltale officially announced The Devil's Playhouse at the Game Developers Conference on March 11, 2010 for release for Windows, the PlayStation Network and Mac OS.
While The Devil's Playhouse was originally announced for PC and the PlayStation 3 for release on April 15, 2010, an iPad version of the game became available on April 2, 2010 as one of the first applications for the release of the device. Telltale's CEO, Dan Conners, revealed that they chose to develop the series for the iPad as a new opportunity as it "really revolutionizes the way our stuff is played". Conners also stated that once they started testing the iPad version, they felt the device helped to give more immersion to the game, as opposed to the other platforms where they play out more as an interaction movie. Telltale was able to keep most of the features that they had already developed for the PC and console releases, including 3D graphics limited only by the shader technology on the iPad, while including features that took advantage of the iPad's technology, such as a touch-based interface. Telltale hopes to bring its other products to the iPad in time, and are looking to reduce the installed size on the iPad. Though the initial cost of the first episode suggested that the full series would be more than the cost of the complete series on the other platforms, Connors hopes to find a way to offer a season pricing detail for those planning to buy all five episodes.
On April 15, 2010, game developer Valve announced that anyone who purchased The Devil's Playhouse through Steam would receive three bonus items in Team Fortress 2: a hat based on Max's head, Max's pistol, and Sam's revolver. The promotion ended on April 26. This was later expanded to include people who purchased the games through the Telltale store.
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