The episodic game guide

Tired of spending big bucks on games? Try playing through a couple seasons of bite-sized game episodes.

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-soaked Precipice of Darkness Episode 1
Season Starts: Currently in repeats
Network: PC and Xbox 360 (PS3 this fall)
Episodiness: One episode, more coming "at some point."
The Deal: Yes, the above mess actually is the full name of a relatively short episodic adventure. Penny Arcade is a fan-fave Web comic amongst the gaming set, but those not in the know are missing something: a sharp-looking action game dripping with style — and wise-ass dialogue worthy of an Evil Dead/Army of Darkness marathon. There's only one episode out so far, but the creators promise that more are coming.


Sam & Max
Season Starts: Currently in repeats
Network: PC (Wii this holiday)
Episodiness: Two "seasons"; 11 episodes
The Deal: Never heard of Sam & Max? Really? A mainstay of classic adventure gaming? OK, imagine the most twisted cartoon you ever came across on late-night TV, except you're interacting with it. The stars — a homicidal rabbit and a Sam Spade-inspired canine — bust some of the weirdest crimes on the planet. And on the moon. And in Hell. The first two seasons have already run on Gametap and have since been released on everything from Valve's Steam service to special edition DVD-ROMs. If you're any kind of fan of oddball puzzle-solving adventures, this is a must-have. Not sure if it's for you? The "Abe Lincoln Must Die" episode is free on the Telltale games download page.

Wing Commander: Secret Ops
Network: PC
Episodiness: Cancelled
The Deal: Like every great TV series ahead of its time, WC:SO was a little too ambitious for its own good. Nowadays, 120MB downloads per installment may not sound bad, but we're talking about an age when you were lucky to have a 56KB modem. Fortunately, if you know where to look, the faithful continue to crank out free, fan-created Wing Commander episodes like WC: Standoff. Download it and savor some space opera dialogue (not to mention shooting down Kilrathi).

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Darren Gladstone

PC World (US online)
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