Sam & Max, Episode 2: Situation: Comedy

Developer/Publisher:  Telltale Games
Year Released:  2006

Review by Gordon Aplin (December, 2006)
Sam & Max: Situation Comedy Screenshot Hot on the heels of Sam & Max, Episode 1: Culture Shock comes this latest downloadable episode of Sam & Max from Telltale Games. On this occasion our wacky heroes are at gun practice when the call from the commissioner comes through. It seems that Myra Stump, talk show host and America's Mom — she who told Tom Hanks to get a hair cut — has a captive audience ... literally. She's held them hostage in the TV studio for three and half days. Can Sam & Max save the show? Stay tuned for mayhem!

In Sam & Max: Situation: Comedy America's (and probably half the world's) lamentable television offerings of tired old sit-coms, talk shows, quiz shows, cooking shows, and dubious talent quests get the treatment they deserve at the ruthless hands of our intrepid duo. As Sam wryly observes when they step through the doors of the TV studio, "Well here we are Max. The TV station with programs too old to be contemporary, too new to be retro, but consistently derivative enough to be popular."

But before Sam & Max can get to Myra's set they will need to prove they are genuine celebrities to justify their admittance, and this in turn means overcoming a good dose of ritual humiliation that only reality TV can provide. Will the esteemed honour of talent-less celebrity go to Sam's head, and is it already too late for Max?

"Let's boogie, little buddy."
Sam & Max: Situation Comedy Screenshot Sam & Max: Situation: Comedy mainly takes place on the sets of TV station WARP but the action begins once more in the familiar office of Sam & Max Freelance Police. Outside, the neighbourhood is largely unchanged too, with Sybil's parlour at one end of the street and Bosco's Inconvenience Store at the other. These characters from the first episode reprise their roles though Sybil has now given up psychology for the more respectable profession of tabloid journalism. Bosco, on the other hand, has decided to assume an upper class British persona complete with 'tally ho's' and' toodle pips'. The eternally youthful and annoying Soda Poppers also pop up again, seeking fame and fortune.

Added to these there's a small cast of entertaining, over-the-top characters that we haven't seen before. Myra herself, of course, with the dazzling pink hair-do, and the imperious Director who can zap from set to set in the blink of an eye. Not to mention Hugh Bliss, Prismatologist and Happiness Guru, Philo Pennyworth the brilliant actor, and Bessy the cow.

As with the first game in the series, Sam & Max: Situation: Comedy is very easy to get into and suitable for everyone. Everything is controlled by the mouse and left clicking carries out most of the actions from taking items to talking to other characters. But don't forget to right click to get descriptions of items in your inventory because there just could be a useful hint. Once again Sam handles most of the conversations but Max can sometimes chime in with his own unique take on the situation. Sam also responds first with a description when you look around but Max never fails to add a witty rejoinder. The dialogue is always humorous, always expertly delivered, and every word is subtitled.

"You lead and I'll follow haphazardly."
Sam & Max: Situation Comedy Screenshot Of course the puzzles are also suitably silly. Nothing is spared the silly treatment. A lot of the time you couldn't possibly not laugh, especially when you can see what's coming. The puzzles are never too difficult and, you guessed it, involve cooking and singing and acting, etc., and there is again a mixture of inventory and conversational puzzles. Culture Shock gave us an amusing end puzzle relying on picking the right conversational response and in Situation: Comedy there's a couple more little gems, a kind of a signature evolving in this latest Sam & Max Series. Oh, and there's also another hairy car chase, one that's a bit of fun determining just what needs to be done.

So listen carefully to pick up the cues, hints abound in the numerous comments and conversations. Some of them really hit you over the head and are worth a laugh in their own right. As far as the humour is concerned there are hardly any misses in Situation: Comedy and although kids might miss some of the irony, with the crazy cast of characters and their equally crazy antics it's a great game for all the family. Like the first episode there is a good four or five hours of gameplay to be had depending on your experience with this style of adventure.

The absurd scenarios of this series are perfect for the characters of Sam & Max. The excellent and colourful artwork, music and sound effects also help to set the scene. For those who haven't yet met Sam, the laid-back dog in a suit, and Max the manic white rabbity thing, they are not to be missed! Together they are freelance police, fighting crime as only they know how. Let them loose in a TV station and you'll be guaranteed a healthy dose of sets and violence — if only to those high notes. If they are not celebrities by now they certainly should be.

Note: Not everyone will notice a minor glitch near the end of the game but this has now been fixed by Telltale games. However you may still come across it in the Gametap download. Just in case make sure you save your game after you enter Myra's set.

Sam & Max: Situation: Comedy is available for download exclusively through GameTap for North American residents from 21 December 2006. From 5 January 2007 it will be available worldwide through Telltale Games. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2006. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows XP, 800MHz processor (if using a video card with hardware T & L), 1.5GHz (if using a video card without hardware T & L), 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended), 32MB 3D-accelerated video card, 240MB available hard drive space.