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Sam & Max shot down by harsh market conditions

The Freelance Police turn in their badge.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

"LucasArts has decided to stop production on Sam & Max," the publisher has remarked in a tersely worded statement on its website last night, thankfully confirming that there are no plans to reduce staff as a result, but otherwise shattering our hopes for the insanely funny buddy-cop point-and-click adventure's resurrection. That's not hyperbole either - this was one of our Most Wanted of 2004.

Perhaps even more distressing is that unlike the cancellation of fellow point-and-clicker Full Throttle 2, which the then president of LucasArts Simon Jeffery told us was on grounds of quality control, Sam & Max: Freelance Police apparently bit the dust on account of what LucasArts deemed inappropriate market conditions. In the words of acting GM Mike Nelson: "After careful evaluation of current market place realities and underlying economic considerations, we've decided that this was not the appropriate time to launch a graphic adventure on the PC."

If you can fight back the tears of rage just long enough though (okay, that was needless hyperbole), you can just about get your head around LucasSuit's predicament here. Escape From Monkey Island was arguably the last truly successful adventure game in a commercial sense, and that came out nearly four years ago. Since then we've seen adventure games like Broken Sword 3 with tremendous marketing support across print, web and TV, not to mention widespread critical acclaim, fail to get reach higher than 50,000 units in the UK. While some titles have taken on cult status (Syberia, for example), it obviously hasn't been enough for publishing bean counters to sleep easy.

Then again it still feels like an odd decision. The game enjoyed a popular video debut at E3 last year, garnered the attention of just about every major gaming organ in the West, and seemed destined to enjoy masses of publicity in the run-up to its release. Heck, Kristan was so excited he grew a third testicle purely to accommodate his overflowing juices. It also had a built-in mass of fans that would have bought it whatever the outcome, a luxury that any number of lesser LucasProjects haven't enjoyed - much to their commercial detriment.

We know there's no consoling you, so all we can suggest is that you go home, draw the curtains, dig out the E3 trailer and think of what might have been. We'll be doing much the same.

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