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Review: Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When it's Dark Outside





Table of Contents

Quick Information

Rating: Pretty Fun
Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religion
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Additional Notes
Linux version available!
Age Rating Suitable for everyone
License: Commercial
System used: Martha, Thaddeus
Available From: Gamer's Gate
Humble Store
Steam

Game Screenshots


Exploring the mine with Xing


Even Sam wasn't ready for this


Simple trivia

General Notes

Probably one of the best ways to make a quality product is to design it for one demographic and include enough material to let other demographics enjoy it too. A common example is a game aimed at young children that just as much fun for adults to play. Pajama Sam is a clear example of one of these games.

Even if you're grown up and have no reason to be afraid of the dark, there's something for you to enjoy in this adventure into the Land of Darkness.

Story Summary

It's time for Sam to go to bed, and tonight will be the first night he'll be sleeping without a light on. Like most children his age, the idea of being alone in the dark is scary, and although he tries to appear brave while talking with his mom, the guise drops shortly after she leaves.

Deciding that he needs to face his fear, Sam decides to imitate his favorite comic book superhero, Pajama Man. In the comics, Pajama Man defeats the evil Darkness using the Illuminator Mark V (a super-powered flashlight) and his trusty Portable Bad Guy Containment Unit. Sam has neither of these, but makes up for it by sustituting his regular flashlight and signature edition Pajama Man lunchbox.

Armed with these gadgets and shaking knees, he prepares to confront his fear and seal Darkness away forever!

Gameplay Summary

Pajama Sam is a typical point and click adventure. In order to interact with something, all you need to do is click on it. It's easy to tell when something can be interacted with: when the cursor is over something, its appearance changes. For example, if you move the cursor over a doorway, it will change to an arrow showing you can move Sam in that direction.

Most of the time, clicking on an object will trigger a short animation that doesn't have an impact on the story. Sam will basically ignore these, but when you find something useful he'll jump over and a longer animation will play while he interacts with it. For example, he might comment on something he's found and then hide it away in his cape.

Sam's inventory is normally hidden from view. To bring it up, just hover the mouse near the bottom of the screen. Once it comes into view, you can use anything in it by clicking on the desired item and then what you want to use it on.

Additionally, before he went to bed, Sam's mother told him to pick up his socks. These have somehow found their way into the Land of Darkness, where they've been scattered around. Clicking on them transports them to a handy laundry basket for safe keeping. There are a total of 20 socks hidden throughout the game, and while, it doesn't impact the game's ending, collecting them all can be fun.

Pros

Imaginative and fun
The Land of Darkness is filled with stuff to see and people to meet. Some of the crazy things you'll encounter include rocks that jump on their own, dancing furniture, doors that run a trivia show, trees that enforce customs regulations, a boat that's afraid of water, and a wishing well that wishes he was doing something else.


Very replayable
Most games in this genre have everything appear in a preplanned spot. This means that every time you play the game, there's nothing new to see. Pajama Sam changes this formula by randomly selecting one of several locations when it hides the key items. Each of these locations is blocked by a different set of puzzles, so if you play it again later you might have to take a different path through the game. The locations of the socks are randomized too, so you can't just memorize where everything is!


Many, many jokes
There's a lot of silly stuff going on in this game. Some of the animations that play when you click on an object are good examples, but there are plenty of better examples from the game's dialogue. Perhaps the best example is what happens if you ask Otto (the boat) about geysers.


Mild "educational" content
As mentioned above, there's a pair of doors that run a trivia game show. In order to pass through the doors, Sam must answer four questions correctly. The last question is always about the Land of Darkness, which checks that the player has been paying attention to the background while playing the game. The other categories are real world trivia, such as "Who painted the Mona Lisa?"


Young children might be comforted by the story
Sam's fear of the dark is an extremely common one among young children, and seeing how Pajama Sam deals with his fears in the game may comfort them with their own fears about the dark.


Cons

Sam has to interact with things to know about them
This is something of a petty complaint, but it's still worth mentioning. Sam only knows about the things he's interacted with. For example, there's a puzzle where he needs to know what time it is in order to proceed. There's a clock that's visible to the player, but you need to have Sam explicitly check the clock before you can continue.


Hidden controls
Back when this game came out (nearly 20 years ago), computer games came with printed manuals instead of in-game tutorials or help menus. Thus, the player might not know how to do things like save the game, load a previously saved game or skip animations. If you need these controls, the save menu is shown when you press S, the load menu is shown by pressing L, and you can skip animations by pressing ESCAPE.


Concerns and Issues

Some creatures want to be eaten
In the kitchen, there's a pot on the stove. Inside it is a chicken that happily sings about how it's going to become a delicious dinner. There's just something awkward about that. Equally creepy is how the carrots want to be part of the main course rather than "regulated" to the salads.


An unintentionally scary surprise
Otto is a wooden boat who is under the impression that he'll sink if he goes in the water. Sam needs to convince him otherwise, and to do this he places a wooden board in a nearby pool. Since it floats, Otto musters up the courage to try floating himself, and ends up loving his ability to float.

The scary part is that if you come back to the area later on, the board is gone without anyone having removed it. This reportedly scared a lot of people when they were little, as they thought the board had ended up sinking -- which means that Otto will also eventually sink and drown!