Gaming Today Impressions of Sam and Max Season Two: “Moai Better Blues”

sammaxmoai1-1.jpgSam and Max Season Two: “Moai Better Blues”
Developer: TellTale Games
Publisher: TellTale Games, GameTap
Price: $8.95 (free for GameTap subscribers)
Platform: PC
Category: Adventure
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: January 2008

Sam and Max, the adventurous Freelance Police have finally returned after a short hiatus to dive right back into their point-and-click shenanigans. TellTale Games has just released “Moai Better Blues,” the second episode for the second season of their popular episodic game series. This time the dynamic duo head off to the tropics in search of more adventure and setups for one-liners. And once again, it’s a veritable laugh riot.

sammaxmoai4-1.jpgThe game kicks off with the intrepid dog and bunny-like creature returning from their last adventure to find their friend, Sybil, being chased by a runaway trans-dimensional portal. After a couple of conversations and a puzzle, you learn that it’s actually the Bermuda Triangle (yes, THE Bermuda Triangle) running rampant in front of your office building. To make a long story short, you travel through the portal and find yourself on Easter Island, where you become commissioned to stop a volcano from erupting and destroying anything. Along the way, you’ll encounter an evil ghost fish, the Fountain of Youth, and a baby Glenn Miller.

If you’ve played any of the past Sam and Max games, then this will all be very familiar to you. “Moai Better Blues” is exactly like previous episodes in the series, and you’ll love every minute of it. The gameplay is pretty standard for most point-and-click adventure games. You talk to different characters, gather items, and solve puzzles; all with just a few mouse clicks. It’s all very simple, so you can focus more on the hilarious writing.

sammaxmoai2-1.jpgThere are some true laugh-out-loud moments in this game, and the writing remains in ample form. You never know what to expect as you progress through the story, but you can bet it will be quirky and accompanied by a quotable line from one or both of the two protagonists. There are also a number of pop culture references to be found, such as a very Lost-like hatch and a Guitar Hero-esque mini-game involving bagpipes.

The full game clocks in at around two to three hours of play time. You’ll most likely finish it in a single sitting, and then put it away for awhile. I’d equate this series to a good book or movie though, in the sense that you’ll probably play through it again later on. Luckily though, the next episode is due to be released next month, so you don’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next; unlike some other “episodic” games out there (*cough Half-Life *cough*).

sammaxmoai3-1.jpgLook, let me put it this way: if you haven’t played it yet, download the free episode from Season One, “Abe Lincoln Must Die,” and give this series a shot. If you like that one, then you’ll like all the rest of the episodes. Playing these games seriously feels like following a TV series, since you have the same characters getting into a different absurd situation each episode. If you don’t like it though, well, can’t blame you really. It doesn’t offer a lot of the fast-paced action that gamers have come to expect these days. Me personally though, I’m already looking forward to diving into each episode this season has to offer.

“Moai Better Blues” is available through GameTap today or TellTale’s website tomorrow.

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