Note: The original releases of Sam & Max are unsupported! Their code is frozen in time; we can't publish patches or make new builds. Part of why we made the new remastered versions was to create a new up to date edition of the game's code that we can patch and update easily!
That said, we will do what we can to point out ways to keep them running on new systems. Try as the universe might, it can't keep Sam & Max down for long, and there are plenty of tools, tips, and tricks out there to help the old games cheat death.
Many of us have had excellent taste in the games we play, for as long as we can remember. That includes you of course, which means you may have been there on October 17, 2006 to celebrate the launch of Sam & Max Season One with the release of its first episode, Culture Shock. Or if not on that exact date, sometime around then. On account of the previously mentioned impeccable taste, you own the original Sam & Max Season One, and still want to play it from time to time.
In fact, your distinguished taste probably comes with a memory just as sharp: you remember first playing the game as clearly as if it were yesterday. Unfortunately we have some bad news for your memory: It was a lot longer than yesterday. There's been as much time between Season One's release and today as there was between Sam & Max Hit the Road coming out in 1993 and the original release of Sam & Max Season One in 2006. The unending passage of time is a terrible thing.
So when you fire up the old games on your modern state-of-the-art PC and doesn't work quite as well as you remember, first try and find some solace in the infinitude of time and your place in it all (but don't think on it for too long, for your own sake).
When that doesn't work, here are a few other things you can attempt to get the original Sam & Max Season episodes to work on modern computers. Especially if your problem looks like one of these:
- Any episode I try to play freezes on launch.
- When the game runs full screen, it looks stretched or squashed to fill my screen.
- The game doesn't crash or freeze exactly, but when it launches I can't see it.
- I would like to force the game to run at the same resolution as my display.
- The games just don't seem to be compatible with my graphics hardware, but I'm willing to do unholy things to make them work.
Any episode I try to play freezes on launch.
The most common cause for this is an incompatibility between Windows' gamepad drivers and the ones the game is expecting to see. A few things to try:
- If you have an Xbox controller plugged into your PC, try unplugging it! Make sure you close and relaunch the game with no controller plugged in. If that worked, and you don't mind unplugging the gamepad before launching, great!
- If that worked and you want a more permanent fix, try making sure you are running the latest version of Windows. This controller issue seemed to come and go over time, and has mostly gone, likely because Microsoft caught it in a Windows update.
- If unplugging the gamepad works, but you are on the latest version of Windows (or can't/won't update) and want a permanent fix to the controller issue, you can download the Windows 8 version of the DirectInput software and drop it in the same directory as your game data. (In Steam, right click the episode in your library, choose Manage > Browse Local Files. Copy dinput8.dll into the folder that opens.) The dll is available at the bottom of this article.
If none of those work, you may have graphics incompatibility issues. More on that below!
When the game runs full screen, it looks stretched or squashed to fill my screen.
Sam & Max Season One was built at 4:3 aspect ratio, and runs in "true" full screen, where the game attempts to take over your whole display and change the current resolution. This is incredibly rude behavior by modern software standards, but it was still allowed back in 2006-7. Because it's so rude and out of fashion, not all graphics cards and not all displays account for it by default anymore. However you can often fix it by changing a few settings in your graphics card's control panel.
- For example, if you have an Nvidia graphics card (like a GeForce), you can go to the Nvidia Control Panel, choose "Adjust desktop size and position" from the sidebar, and choose the "Aspect ratio" scaling mode.
The game doesn't crash or freeze exactly, but when it launches I can't see it.
This is most likely the game trying to launch at full screen in a resolution unsupported by your display.
- First try pressing alt-enter. If the game is running, but is stuck in an unsupported graphics resolution, this will change it to run in a window. If that worked, try going into the game's settings and change it to a higher resolution before trying to go back into full screen. (To enter settings, click the gear icon in the top left corner when you aren't in a cinematic sequence.)
- If you have an Nvidia graphics card, you can try telling it to take over how full screen games are handled. Find the Nvidia Control Panel in your start menu or select it by right clicking on your desktop, and choose "Adjust desktop size and position" from the sidebar. Change "Perform scaling on" to "GPU," and check "Override the scaling mode set by games and programs." Try launching a Sam & Max episode and toggle it to full screen.
- If none of the above work, you will have to settle for playing the game windowed, or use a third party tool to force the game to run at different resolutions.
Fortunately there are a few community-made tools out there that work with the original Sam & Max Seasons, and can get around some of the rigid 2007 graphics settings used by the games. They are organized below by what issue they solve:
I would like to force the game to run at the same resolution as my display.
Try the Telltale Games Custom Resolution Tool. You can point this program at your Sam & Max episode, tell it what resolution you would like to run at, and it will modify the game's preference files with a new forced resolution. For more instructions, see the Resolution Tool's webpage.
- If you try to run the game in a widescreen resolution, you will end up encountering visual bugs. Sam & Max Season One was only built for 4:3 aspect ratio, so if you force the game into widescreen mode you'll be able to see "off camera" to areas we didn't intend. Sometimes environments will just taper off and end early, characters will visibly pop in at the edges of the frame , and effects like fade-ins and fade-outs will not cover the whole screen. We strongly recommend trying to stick to 4:3 aspect ratio resolutions with Season One if possible.
Reminder: This is a tool made by the community. We didn't make this tool and cannot provide support for it. Use at your own risk.
The games just don't seem to be compatible with my graphics hardware, but I'm willing to do unholy things to make them work.
This gets trickier, and into weirder tools, but there are some amazing things out there built to keep old games running on modern 3D hardware and modern operating systems. Here are a few to try, but remember they are for advanced users who don't mind really digging into the nitty gritty of how their PC works.
The first tool to try is dgVoodoo2. It is a homebrew alternative to the graphics APIs used by old versions of Windows and many older Windows games. You can drop dgVoodoo2's files into your Sam & Max episode's game directory, and the game will look to dgVoodoo2 for how to render instead of using its own old tech.
- For full instructions, read the entire dgVoodoo manual, but here is a short set of steps to try:
- Download the latest stable version of dgVodoo2 from their Downloads page.
- On your PC, find and open the folder containing the files for the episode you want to run through dgVoodoo.
- For example if you're using Steam, right click the game in your library, choose Manage > Browse Local Files. The folder that opens is the correct one! It should have an exe file, a file called prefs.prop, a folder called "Pack" and a handful of other things.
- If you don't see those things, but do have a list of folders labeled "ep101" "ep102" etc, you may have to go one subfolder deeper into one of those episode folders first.
- Open the dgVoodoo zip file, go in the MS\x86\ directory, copy all the dll files from there into the local Sam & Max folder you opened in the previous step.
- Now try playing the episode in question. It should look different, probably filling your whole screen! If this looks good enough, you're done. If you want to further tweak the settings, you can:
- Copy the dgVoodooCpl.exe and dgVoodoo.conf to your game's local files directory as well. They are tools that will let you configure how dgVoodoo renders Sam & Max. Again for more reference, read the entire manual and the included QuickGuide.html. Good luck!
Another to try is DxWnd, a utility designed to intercept the out of date and incompatible ways old programs might try to draw themselves to your screen, and replace them with more compatible ones.
- Note again, these are advanced tools and require some familiarity with how your computer, and utility software in general, works. In some ways DxWnd is even more obtuse than dgVoodoo, but if all you want is for the game to reliably display itself in a window and nothing else has worked, it may help.
- Download the latest stable version, read all the help including the "getting started." There is a community-provided template for Sam & Max - Abe Lincoln Must Die that can be applied not just to that episode but the others as well, though the default settings seem to work even without a template.
Reminder: These are tools made by the community. We didn't make these tools and cannot provide support for them. Use at your own risk.
If you've read this far and not found something that works (or something you're comfortable trying), try asking in the Steam or GOG tech support forum for Sam & Max Save The World or Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space (or the forums for the original episodes themselves). You can also email us, but these old builds are unsupported, and the best we can do may be to point you back at this page.