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Sam & Max: Situation Comedy « Concerned Extras

Concerned Extras

January 3, 2007

Sam & Max: Situation Comedy

Filed under: Gaming — Administrator @ 9:22 pm

So, I cleverly wrangled myself an advance evaluation copy of the second Sam & Max episode (okay, I didn’t wrangle anything, cleverly or otherwise — someone at Telltale Games just offered it to me out of the blue), and now I shall attempt a completely impartial review.

I say “attempt” because I’m a huge slobbering Sam & Max fan and I won’t pretend I’m not. The original LucasArts Sam & Max adventure game is one of my favorite games of all time, and I love the S&M comics as well. I once met the creator of the characters, Steve Purcell, while I was working at a Barnes and Noble ages ago — I was actually wearing a LucasArts Sam & Max pin at the time, and he asked about it and introduced himself.

I even have a tattoo on my right shoulder of Max’s head engulfed in flames, an image from the cover of the hardbound collection of Sam & Max comics (my copy is autographed, natch).

So! You see where I’m coming from. I’m a Sam & Max geek and I’m just happy they are once again clomping around on my computer screen in any form whatsoever. Still, I’ll try to write a fair and balanced review for those of you on the fence about whether or not to buy the new games.

In the first episode, the Freelance Police were on the trail of a former child star turned crook, and the television theme continues in episode two, Situation Comedy, with Sam & Max investigating a talk show host named Myra who has taken her studio audience hostage.

While it’s an all-new case, you’ve got some familiar locations from the first episode, like Sam & Max’s office, Bosco’s store, and the tattoo parlor turned therapists office (and now turned newspaper tabloid office). There’s also a new car chase segment, plus a television studio to visit. In fact, if you play your cards right you’ll get Sam and Max on a number of shows — a game show, an American Idol ripoff, a cooking show, and even a sitcom. Figuring out what to do on each of these shows make up the bulk of the puzzles and the fun in this episode, and some characters from the first episode pop up as well.

Cooking Show

I enjoyed this episode a bit more than the first. Again, the humor isn’t quite as biting as it was in the original game, but the writing is solid and Max has a witty retort to nearly everything Sam says. I also enjoy that you can talk to Max in different locations to get different topics. While there still aren’t as many props or locations as I’d like, it feels like there’s a bit more to do in this episode, more stuff to click on and more things to look at. Most of the puzzles are fairly easy to figure out, though there were two that stopped me in my tracks for a bit. Overall, it’s a few hours of fun and definitely worth a buy in my book.

I’m still trying to figure out if episodic adventure gaming is such a great idea, though. The idea of a new short adventure every month is definitely appealing, but there are some pretty big limitations. Since each episode needs to stand on its own merits (in case someone decides to just buy episode three and six, or something), you can’t really have a single big long storyline running through the entire adventure. Most props, as well, won’t be carried around between adventures, and it appears many locations won’t be available between episodes, either. So, the usual format of an expansive map with more and more locations becoming available as you play isn’t feasible, nor is the standard adventure game inventory of dozens of items that you’ll eventually use at some point.

At any rate, it’s great to see some adventure games coming back to the PC (Telltale is also doing an episodic Bone series), and if you’re even a casual fan of Sam & Max, I think you’ll enjoy the new episode. Situation Comedy is due out January 5th.

Idol

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