Sam and Max: Moai Better Blues

Written by Andy Fair

January 12, 2008 | 07:08

Tags: #adventure #better #blues #episode #episodic #gilbert #grossman #max #monkey #portal #purcell #sam

Companies: #lucasarts

I'm not a malefactor, I'm a lagomorph

Sam and Max: Season Two started with Ice Station Santa, released in November 2007, and saw the dynamic duo battling giant robots, demons and Santa himself in the North Pole. All in a day's work for the Freelance Police.

Episode two, Moai Better Blues, starts with the team watching their friend Sybil be chased along the street by a rogue semi-sentient interdimensional portal. This is soon halted and, being the adventurous souls they are, Sam and Max jump through the portal and end up on Easter Island. This South Pacific Island is the end-point for anything that vanishes in the Bermuda Triangle, and so we meet various famous missing people such as Amelia Earhart and Glenn Miller as well as the famous stone heads, the Moai, themselves.

The crux of this episode revolves around preventing the volcano god Rapanui from exploding and saving the Moai stone heads in the process. To do this, you'll need the help of not only the island residents but also Sam and Max's city neighbours. Thankfully, The work of the Freelance Police is never done.

During the course of the game, you'll find yourself jumping between Easter Island and the city street outside Sam & Max's office in order to solve numerous almost-devious puzzles.

Sam and Max: Moai Better Blues Thinking with portals
Click to enlarge

I say "almost-devious" because while many of the puzzles may have you stumped for a while, none of them are so difficult that you'll be flummoxed for days. All of the puzzles in the game are logical, and are well-balanced. The game never descends into a "hunt the hotspot" fest and the whole thing can be solved in a matter of hours, rather than days.

With this new season, Telltale Games has introduced a system where Max will drop hints to help you along. While you can turn this feature off (and it comes turned off by default), none of the hints are so explicit that they turn Max into a walkthrough partner.

Instead, the hints are subtle enough that you'll still have to think about them, but not so obscure that they're confusing. This is a welcome addition to the game, and is well executed to boot.

The dialogue is of the same high standard set by the original game and Season One, and while there are no laugh out loud moments, you'll still be smiling as you play the game. The best part of the game has to be the conversations between Sam and Max and witty remarks each spews out at breakneck speed as you explore your way through the game.

Sam and Max: Moai Better Blues Thinking with portals
Click to enlarge

Conclusions

The main problem with Sam & Max Season Two: Moai Better Blues is one of length.

No matter what others may tell you, length is everything and with the game only lasting two or three hours, the fun is over just as you're starting to get into the game. This was a problem with Season One and it's still a problem with Season Two. I suppose it's not really a criticism as such, more testament to the quality of the game that you don't really want it to end when it does. There's a trade-off to be made between the episodic nature of the game and length of the game though, and this time the episodic argument won.

Sam and Max: Moai Better Blues Thinking with portalsDespite Telltale Games having made some changes to the games based on user feedback, the main niggle still exists: Sam still walks like he should be using a walking stick. While it is possible to make him run, this doesn't work on every screen and more often than not, you're left twiddling your thumbs while Sam ambles from one side of the screen to the next.

Sam & Max: Moai Better Blues is still an adventure game at heart, and as such doesn't really bring anything new to the genre, but it still shines on so many levels that you're willing to overlook the few flaws. If you're really bothered about the length then you could always grab the seasonpack in a few months time.

Telltale Games are to be applauded for both showing us at the adventure game isn't dead and that episodic gaming can be successful. Ultimately, its biggest flaw is also its biggest advantage: the game is short enough to be enjoyable but not so long that it drags on.

If you want more, there'll be another episode along in a month – so keep your eyes open! Until then you'll just have to settle for discussing the series in the forums.
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