Game: Sam & Max Season 1 Episode 2: Situation: Comedy
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Just two months after the first game in the new Sam and Max series and Episode 2 was already out. At least they’re doing episodic gaming in the way that it was always promised. Situation: Comedy is another short but fun point and click adventure game featuring the canine and lagomorph duo. This time they’re out to stop a TV talk show host called Myra who has been holding her audience captive in the studio while she continues to present her show and force them to accept her give away products. Thus follows a bunch of pretty much unrelated puzzles in order to get into the studio to stop her.
The puzzles in this second episode are quite interesting, mostly involving taking part in various TV shows in order to achieve a required goal to be allowed onto Myra’s show. You’ll have to host a cookery show, win an “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” style quiz show, star in a dreadful sitcom and gain a recording contract from Embarrassing Idol. Like the first game, each of these puzzles is generally fairly easy, but they’re always fun to solve. The puzzles are a bit more disjointed this time around, since the theme means they feel more like a series of short sketches than an integral part of the main story. That doesn’t really spoil anything too much though.
In terms of actual dialogue and humour, this has actually developed even further than the first game. The final confrontation with Myra is more interesting than the conclusion of the previous episode and the writing seems to show that the creators are getting used to the games style. The actors also seem to be getting the hang of the characters, with the voices sounding even better than in the first game. Many of the minor characters from the first game return, including the paranoid shop owner, Bosco, now in a terrible disguise as a stereotyped Englishman. Sybil Pandemik is also back, now with a new career. Unfortunately, the Soda Poppers also return, although they’re not quite as annoying this time, and only feature in one segment of the game. There are also some new characters, including the rather creepily happy Hugh Bliss and his Prismatology and a Shakespearian style actor who has been reduced to working in bad sitcoms, and who also happens to be a chicken.
The humour mostly hits the mark a bit more often than in the first game. To be negative, the poor quality of modern TV isn’t exactly a hard target, but the parodies and jokes featured here are all pretty much spot on. Trying to improvise a sitcom routine with an awful premise and dreadful jokes, with Max having to force in a catchphrase that also happens to be product placement, all while an annoying laughter track plays with claps and cheers at every line, whether it’s even supposed to be funny or not… it’s the sort of thing you could almost imagine seeing when you turn on your TV set. Comments on the likes of the sadistic nature of reality TV might be a bit obvious, but it fits in perfectly with the characters. Max judging the Pop Idol spoof, Embarrassing Idol, seems like a perfect fit.
Ultimately, Sam & Max Episode 2 continues what the first episode started, providing short, entertaining adventure games at a low price. It definitely hints that the series will continue to get better. It can be played as a game in its own right, with a self-contained story, although it appears each of the cases will be linked by an ongoing thread, presumably to be uncovered in later episodes. As before, this is still recommended to adventure fans.
Save System Review: Same as the previous episode, save anywhere and autosave.
Graphics: Same nice cartoony style, still looks great, with well designed environments.
Sound: The voice acting is first rate, having improved even further from the original game.
Bugs: As before, no bugs.
Gameplay: Puzzles are still inventive, but also still a little easy and can feel a bit disjointed.
Storyline/Dialogue: The storyline is, even more than the first game, just an excuse to hang the jokes on, but the actual jokes and dialogue are better this time round.
Arbitrary Final Score:
Situation Comedy or Situation Vacant? Let us know your opinion on the forum!