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Sam & Max: Freelance Police archived preview

Holy jumpin mother o' God in a side-car with chocolate jimmies and a lobster bib—Sam and Max are back, and this time they're in 3D! Fans of old-school LucasArts games were recently treated with a short trailer of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the upcoming sequel to the classic adventure Sam & Max Hit the Road. While the trailer was specifically rendered for E3, it looks like a positive sign of what is to come.

Not only does this little teaser tickle the funny bone in a way that only Sam & Max can, the graphics look like they've been taken straight from the original game and sent through a time portal. It's like our favorite Canine Shamus and accompanying 3-foot rabbitty thing have never left. LucasArts president Simon Jeffery confirmed to Mixnmojo that the game will be "a traditional, classic LucasArts graphic adventure". On top of that, he says that that Sam & Max: Freelance Police is "going to have a different feel than Monkey Island 4 or Full Throttle 2 do."

Leading the project is Michael Stemmle, who co-designed the first Sam & Max game. Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell is also involved as consultant. Needless to say, we await further details with great anticipation.

Although it is too early to go into much specifics of the game (nor to jump to conclusions, for that matter), we managed to secure a brief but nicely exclusive Q&A with Michael Stemmle:

Sam & Max: Freelance Police was probably the least expected LucasArts sequel for a variety of reasons. Tell us how Steve Purcell got on board and how the project was conceived.

Like so many things in life, the genesis of this project was a series of happy coincidences. I had not-so-recently wrapped up Escape from Monkey Island, and was merrily dithering away my days scribbling up pitches for the Next Big Thing in adventure games. Pipe Dream: The Flooz Must Flow and Maniac Mansion: Night of a Thousand Tentacles were high on my list of ideas, so you can tell I was getting a little desperate. Simultaneously, Steve Purcell's Sam & Max game for another company was imploding for reasons I'm still a little fuzzy about. I think it was hit by a meteor. In any event, Steve got in touch with my bosses, a bunch of lawyers got together and signed some documents, and the next thing I knew, Steve and I were writing stories and designing a game.

How would you characterize Sam & Max: Freelance Police's current state of development?

We're deep in pre-production, and can see the looming specter of production on the horizon. We know what all of our sets and characters look like, we know how most of our mini-games and puzzles work, and we've written all of our significant cut-scenes. Now we just have to get our technological ducks lined up and pull the trigger. Repeatedly.

Looking back, what aspects of Sam & Max Hit the Road's design would you do completely different this time around?

I'd either make Highway Surfing a better mini-game, or chuck it altogether. Thank goodness we were smart enough not to make it an integral part of the story.

Can you introduce us to some of the people on your team?

I'd be happy to. Our lead artist is Derek Sakai, recently returned to LucasArts after an extended hiatus in the Great White North. Our programming effort is being spearheaded by Kevin Bruner, a crafty veteran who knows enough to keep me as far away from the code as humanly possible. Graham Annable is our lead animator and another LucasArts veteran, but he's less crafty and more wily. On the scene designing/mini-game implementation/making sure the game comes together front, Steve Chen has returned to LucasArts from parts unknown to ensure that the finished product is actually fun. Our music is being composed by Mark Griskey, ably abetted by our sound designer, Nick Peck. The whole shebang is being produced by Dan Connors, who's contributing much, MUCH more to this project than his usual bang-up organizational skills. And of course there's Sam and Max's creator, Steve Purcell, who's been feeding us story ideas, cut-scene dialogue, character concepts, free posters, and all-around creative guidance whilst simultaneously holding down a day job at Pixar.

It's a seriously butt-kicking group of folks.

What type of engine are you using for Sam & Max: Freelance Police?

It's a point-and-click adventure game engine that's been cobbled together from parts of engines that are already lying around LucasArts. There's a little bit of the new Full Throttle game in there, along with a hint of Gladius, a smidge of RTX, and even a touch of Obi-Wan. We're trying really really really hard not to create "The Wheel, version 5.0" on this project.

Will Sam and/or Max get to sing in the game?

Sam sings a little. Max, not so much. He thinks singing's for sissies.

What happened with your idea for an all-singing all-dancing musical adventure?

It's day will come, believe me. Mwah-ha-ha-haaaaaa!

Finally... how long is your beard?

Right now my beard length is negligible, in preparation for the coming summer heat. I can't even store spare pencils in it.

Sam & Max: Freelance Police is targeted for a spring 2004 release for PC/Windows.


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