In the vast compendium of video game villains, some stand heads and shoulders above their competition. Unfortunately, this a problem for my first pick of the “Silly Scoundrels” lot, because, well, he’s rather…short: Mr. Conroy Bumpus. At first glance, Bumpus, the main antagonist of Sam & Max Hit the Road, may not appear all that villainous. And yet, behind his aspiring country music career lies a sinister drive, one that the only team of an anthropomorphic dog and hyperkinetic rabbity thing can stop!
Sam & Max Hit the Road tells the story of Sam (the anthropomorphic dog) and Max (the hyper so and so), a detective duo who are sent on a cross-country to find a local circus’s missing main attractions, a Bigfoot named Bruno and his girlfriend Trixie the Giraffe-Necked Girl. In and among their travels, they eventually make their way to Bumpusville, Conroy’s lavish mansion. And there they uncover Conroy’s secret…he’s an animal hunter of the worst kind! Furthermore, he wants to find and humiliate an Bigfoot for his latest act (his father was killed by a Bigfoot, you see). After scouring the nation for Bigfoots, which seem to have all vanished, he finally stumbles on the trail of Bruno and Trixie. Can Sam and Max find the duo before Conroy gets his terrible, twangy mitts on them?
The answer, is, of course, yes, because Conroy isn’t much of a criminal mastermind. It does him no favors that his dim-witted assistant, Lee-Harvey, is terrible at actually assisting, too. Throughout the game, Sam and Max run into Conroy several times, but it’s not until they discover not only the whereabouts of Bruno and Trixie, but also the secret of all the missing Bigfoots, that a confrontation between them ensues. Conroy ends up caught in his own trap (along with Lee-Harvey), and the two get their comeuppance by becoming sideshow attractions themselves.
Conroy makes for the perfect silly scoundrel in the strange world of Sam and Max. His small stature and demanding nature are sideswiped by his sky-high hairdo, his lack of decorum, and his questionable choices in Country song titles. (“Broken-Hearted Roadkill on the Highway of Romance” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.) Bumpusville is a testament to Conroy’s preference for luxury; it’s almost fitting that in it he hides such a disgraceful pastime as exploiting animals. It’s all so over-the-top that seeing Conroy behind “bars” (though not really) is the perfect ending for one so foolish.