Sam & Max: Episode 202 - Moai Better Blues
You really don't need to have played the previous games in this episodic series of Sam & Max, but if you haven't you'll surely be scrambling to sample them after playing this one. Sam & Max: Episode 202 - Moai Better Blues is once more a bundle of crazy fun, and though it alludes to the last adventure, it's more or less self-contained.
Well some of the characters do now have a history but it won't matter too much if you jump right in. No Soda Poppers this time, but Sybil, Bosco, Jimmy Two-Teeth and Abe Lincoln's rocky head are back though they don't really feature in the action. Then there are some new characters to get to know including three massive moai and pint-sized versions of a number of real-life personalities who mysteriously disappeared in the past. You can discover for yourself who they are ... now we know what happened to them!
Fresh from the chilly North Pole in their last adventure, Ice Station Santa, in Moai Better Blues Sam & Max have landed themselves in the sun, Easter Island to be precise, and triangles feature prominently. In fact a great red triangle opened the door to Easter Island — The Bermuda Triangle would you believe? At the beginning of the game it makes an appearance in the familiar, jumbled neighbourhood and whisks away Abe. When Sybil promptly follows of course Sam & Max won't be left out of things so they follow hot on the heels of their disappearing friends.
What an entertaining place is Easter Island with the usual sparkling graphics and plenty of things to look at and fiddle around with. The island is in jeopardy, there's a volcano about to explode, and a prophecy for Sam & Max to fulfil. After the appearance of the triangle most of the gameplay is on Easter Island, and there are more triangles to come. The puzzling in this episode depends a lot on manipulating the environment. Playing with the triangles for starters, they help out a lot. There are items to find too, and a bucking surfboard to ride, plus the faithful driving interlude, which is hilarious rather than hard.
And speaking of hard, it's always hard to gauge the difficulty of such a game and I'd say this one isn't difficult if you're ready to experiment and observe. You do have to use your imagination and think outside of the box a little, but in the scheme of things I found Moai Better Blues to be one of the easier Sam & Max adventures. Of course that will depend on you, on how you interpret the clues. With this kind of crazy caper for every player that breezes along there's another that stumbles around. Maybe it's to do with which side of the brain you use, or what side of the bed you get out of . Still if you do get a little lost, you can always set the slider to encourage Max to drop a hint or two.
As we've come to expect the sound track is completely professional and all the voice acting too. And, of course, it's compulsory to laugh although the humour might not be quite so biting as in previous episodes. Some of it will escape the younger generation who, for instance, will miss the point of the miraculous appearance of some of the characters but it's comical enough to keep kids well and truly amused. On the other hand, some of the kiddie humour, especially Max's antics, I could have done without ... but fair's fair ... something for everyone.
I did feel that Sam & Max: Episode 202 - Moai Better Blues was one of the shorter trips in the series and a couple of ends could have been tied in better. Where in the world (it could have been anywhere with so many triangles) did Sybil go, for instance, after her abrupt exit? I looked in vain. And Bosco could have had a little more to contribute to add an extra twist to the tale, and Flint Paper too. Both of these characters were rather underused and involving them more might have added to the whole.
But I'm nitpicking, probably because I wanted more. Don't miss it, Sam & Max turn on the charm once again and dish out plenty of wisecracks in this crazy adventure in the sun. It's short and sweet and a lot of fun.
Sam & Max: Episode 202 - Moai Better Blues is available for download through GameTap or through Telltale Games.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 2008.
All rights reserved.
Windows XP/Vista, 800MHz processor if using a video card with hardware T & L - 1.5GHz if using a video card without hardware T & L (1.5GHz recommended), 256MB RAM (512 recommended), 32MB 3D-accelerated video card (64MB recommended).