Game: Sam & Max Season 1 Episode 3: The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Year: 2007
Reviewed: 2008
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

Well, the third episode of Sam and Max came out just a month after the second. If we have to have episodic gaming, at least we know Telltale can keep a reasonable release schedule, unlike most other attempts. This time, the hound and hare twosome have to infiltrate the Toy Mafia to find the mole within the organisation after contact was lost with him. To find the base of their operations, they have to look in the place where you’d least expect to find Mafia: Ted E. Bear’s Mafia-Free Playland and Casino, with it’s completely innocent gambling and shooting games and completely unsuspicious gangsters wearing bear heads.

Sam and Max S1E3 No Mafia here!
They might wear pin stripe suits and carry Tommy Guns, but they’re definitely not Mafia, honest!

The improvements in the overall quality of writing and comedy continue from the previous episode. The success rate of the jokes just keeps on improving with each game they release, the actors now seem to be able to play their parts with ease, and the puzzles are reasonably interesting. There are quite a few movie references this time, especially gangster ones to fit in with the theme of the game, especially in the casino when Sam starts trying to guess the password to get into the back room. There’s also a few in-jokes for fans of Lucasarts games, such as a variation on the “Wak A Rat” fairground game from the original Sam and Max Hit The Road, this time called “Whack Da Ratz!” and involving shooting the rats that pop out of the machine to stop them squealing to the police. See. Of course there’s no Mafia there. Even further proof of that fact is the collection of singing bear heads on the wall, singing an annoyingly catchy song about how free of gangsters the whole place is.

As mentioned, the puzzles are entertaining, but they’re still too easy, if not even easier than before. Like before, they’re enjoyable to solve, and this time they seem to fit into the plot slightly better than they did in the second episode, but this time I barely had to stop to think even once. Adding that to the fact that there are less new locations in this episode, it makes the game the shortest in the series so far. It’s a shame, since if it wasn’t for these minor points, the game would actually be an improvement over previous episodes, but as it is, it’s being held back by the flaws. But due to the release schedule, Telltale didn’t have time to take feedback from the fans into account until Episode 4, so hopefully the series will finally reach its potential there.

Sam and Max S1E3 Toy Mafia
These, on the other hand, are definitely Toy Mafia. Fortunately, their aim is on a level with the standard movie villain.

So this is a fairly short review, but that’s because this is a fairly short game, even by the standards of the already short episodes. It’s still good, and in some ways better than before, but it still somehow feels like a filler episode, merely introducing a few characters and advancing the main plot very slightly while not really going anywhere on its own. If you like the rest of the episodes then this is recommended, but if you didn’t like the others, this won’t change your mind.

Save System Review: Same as before, save anywhere and autosaves.
Graphics: Unsurprisingly, they haven’t downgraded the graphics, so it still looks great.
Sound: The voice acting is just about perfect, the effects fit well and the music is fantastic. It’s hard to think how it could improve.
Bugs: No bugs, except for the insect kind.
Gameplay: The puzzles are still enjoyable, but even easier than before, and the game is just too short.
Storyline/Dialogue: The dialogue is funny and well written and the storyline melds with the game a little more than before, but it doesn’t really go anywhere with it.

Arbitrary Final Score: 3 stars

Like this episode? Dislike it? Tell us what you think in our forum, but watch what you say lest the Toy Mafia hunt you down.