Even though we’re surrounded by brand new releases and sequels, we love highlighting the games that are being reintroduced to us by way of new platforms. Today, that includes two seasons of Sam & Max’ episodic adventures, Watcher Chronicles and Casual Challenge Players’ Club.
Sam & Max Save The World / Sam & Max Beyond Space And Time review (PS4)
Before Telltale settled into their own unique style of adventure games (with a lot of TV and movie IPs like Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead), they naturally evolved from the classic brand of PC adventure gaming that Lucasarts introduced so successfully with countless classics. It only made sense for Telltale to base their episodic format on some of the classics, like Monkey Island and Sam and Max. The latter duo had the first two seasons of their Telltale adventures remastered by Skunkape Games a while ago, and now they’ve finally made the jump to PlayStation as well.
Season 1 was eventually renamed “Sam & Max Save the World when it was sold as a package deal, and the same happened to Season 2, “Beyond Time and Space”. For both games you can still play the individual episodes by themselves, but there’s an overarching narrative that’ll make you want to play them in sequence, and with a length of about 90 minutes to two hours per episode they’re perfect if you want to try and tackle a single episode per evening or something like that.
Season 2 originally introduced a few more modern mechanics and engine upgrades to the franchise, and for that reason it feels like the remaster for “Save the World” brings a more significant jump forward with it. Both feature brand new artwork and music from the original artists though, so there’s a lot of dedication to the fanbase here that goes beyond the appeal of the two main characters. Sam and Max are still as wacky a duo as they ever were, with some of the most hilarious writing ever to appear in a videogame. Some might argue that not all jokes have aged well, but for us it was a great throwback that made us feel twenty years younger again.
We’ve checked out both Season 1 and Season 2 before, and it’s wonderful to see them (re)appear on PlayStation. These are some of the best games to bridge the classic Lucasarts period with the Telltale formula that came after it, with some of the most iconic characters to ever grace the genre and a gameplay mix that comfortably sits between the old and the new. We were delighted to play these on the big screen for the first time and can’t wait for the remaster of Season 3.
Watcher Chronicles review (PS4)
Third Sphere Game Studios launched Watcher Chronicles back at the start of the year, and it’s finally made the leap to consoles. And while it looks like a colorful cartoon brawler on the outside, it’s actually more Soulslike than we had anticipated – though perhaps not as brutally difficult as other games in the genre are.
You’ll notice plenty of familiar elements though, like level layouts where activating an elevator will give you a shortcut for a future run, and in the fact that you need to collect souls in order to upgrade – which you’ll need to be able to get past some of the tougher bosses in the game. Upgrading’s visualized nicely too, as donning some new armor or weapon will also change your appearance. It has plenty of elements that make playing a good Soulslike rewarding, though as mentioned it’s one of the easier examples in the genre – so more of a starting point than “the next big thing”.
And while there’s definitely room in the genre for something a bit more accessible, we did wish that the game had “a bit more” to it, in a few ways we just couldn’t look past. With a delightful cartoon art style like this, you’ll expect smoother animations than what the game offers. With environments that you have to get through more than once, you’ll wish they offered more diversity – and the same can be said for the enemies that stand in your way. Many of them are variations on the same theme – undead skeletons ready to take you to the afterlife with them.
In many ways, it’s one of the most “arcade-like” games in the genre that we ever played, and while the paragraph above may sound harsh that’s also what makes Watcher Chronicles fun to play. It’s certainly not the most engaging or memorable Soulslike ever, but with its art style and accessible gameplay it’s an excellent quick diversion, especially in a season where no one has the time to spend dozens of hours ploughing through the next Demon’s Souls.
Casual Challenge Players’ Club review (PS4)
With a title like Casual Challenge Players’ Club, this is an Eastasiasoft release that could have been literally anything, but we certainly weren’t expecting a mix of pool and anime. The game originally launched on Steam through developer Yume Game Studio but is now available for all major consoles.
And we know what some of you are thinking. Eastasiasoft, some kind of casual gameplay mechanic and anime… this is going to be a lot like their Pretty Girls titles. It’s not, though we can see why you’d think that as we wondered the same thing for a brief moment. This game stays away from the “sexy” side of things and focuses on the pool element, though it’s definitely one of the most casual takes on the game that we’ve ever played, and definitely not a “sim”-like experience.
With a few different game modes for single and multiple players, Casual Challenge Players’ Club offers a surprising number of ways to play for a low budget title, and even includes a story-driven campaign. The pool gameplay is very much simplified though, so there are rarely any rules to worry about – it’s just about potting balls most of the time, and the order doesn’t even matter. That makes it a super laid back game that you can just pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, so we assume the Switch version is fun for that reason as well. It’s easy to enjoy, but don’t go in expecting an involved pool simulator.