Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It’s Dark Outside
Point and click adventures have been a part of my life ever since I first discovered Myst over 20 years ago. I have been playing through Doublefine’s superb Broken Age recently and wanted to revisit some examples of the genre from my childhood. It so happens that my daughter, Mae, has been experiencing some trouble sleeping lately and has been asking to leave the light on longer each night. In order to try to combat this fear of the dark, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce her to a game that helped me fight this common childhood fear.
Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When it’s Dark Outside was released by Humongous Entertainment in 1996 for PC and has since been re-released on Steam, Wii, Android, and iOS. I played a number of the Humongous Entertainment games as a kid (anyone remember Backyard Baseball?) but the Pajama Sam series was always my favorite. This series follows Sam as he imitates his favorite comic book super hero, Pajama Man, and faces a variety of common kid-related issues including: fear of the dark, lightning, and eating right. The graphics and style of the game flow seamlessly, load screens are non-existent and the voice acting is top-notch. Sam is voiced by Pamela Adlon who is known for her long time role as Bobby Hill. The soundtrack includes singing kitchen appliances and a Beethoven bust crooning about not having arms.
Mae has not had much experience with a PC mouse considering so many of our every day devices have touch screens, but she picked it up quickly. Once acclimated, she was clicking just about everything in sight. Most objects are clickable and usually followed by a short, funny animation or sound effect. The story begins with Sam reading his Pajama Man comic book before bed when his mother comes in to say goodnight and turns out the light. Sam, no longer wanting to fear the darkness that lives in his closet, searches his bedroom for his flashlight, lunchbox and super hero mask to head into the closet and face his fear head-on. The closet is actually a portal to the Land of Darkness where some evil trees strip Sam of his belongings pretty soon after arriving. The rest of the game is spent recovering the lost items and ultimately facing Darkness himself. The learning curve associated with some of our other gaming attempts was practically non-existent here. Mae immediately picked up on the subtle puzzles and challenges. See something out of reach? Oh, maybe the rope we found in the tree two screens ago can snag it! Does that depressed boat think it is not capable of floating? Why not throw that piece of wood we found earlier into the water nearby to prove that the boat doesn’t know what it is talking about.
Pajama Sam is a very well-made point and click adventure and I think it was a great example of how fun this genre can be for my daughter. She was interested from start to finish and immediately asked to play again once we finished it. Replaying the game is something that we will be sure to do as this game has slightly different scenarios each time you play it. One note about the length though- we had to make sure to give ourselves enough time to play, as the game doesn’t appear to include any way to save or employ any sort of password system. It took us a little over an hour and a half to finish the main story, but more time could have been spent hunting down missing socks and playing Cheese and Crackers (Tic Tac Toe) with a toaster oven.
Mae might still want to keep the night light on in her room, but hopefully our time with Pajama Sam will help her to realize that darkness isn’t so bad. Helping Mae come to terms with darkness might also save me from those pesky late night roundhouse kicks to the face from a child who can’t sleep in her own bed!