Sam and Max return for another great season
Note: Review contains spoilers
The first season of Sam and Max was a great step forward for the series, which was confirmed dead when LucasArts stopped production of Sam and Max: Freelance Police. Telltale revived it in a new episodic format, one we haven’t seen before. Sure, Half-Life 2 has gone episodic but so far has only produced 2 episodes. Sam and Max Season One offered 6 episodes and while Season Two offers one less than last season, the quality has been dramatically improved.
The first game, “Ice Station Santa” sees Sam and Max watch their goldfish get killed by a deadly laser from Max’s Maimtron 9000 robot, a hilarious thing that butchers classic songs like “Another One Bites The Dust” before falling for a trick and having his wind-up key taken out. Upon seeing the label on its foot, they notice that the Maimtron 9000 was sent by Santa and so the duo head to the North Pole to find out what’s going on.
What they find are elves hiding in Santa’s Workshop while he shoots out of a locked door with a machine gun, yelling something about demons. Sam and Max come to the conclusion that Santa is possessed and summon it using items scattered across the workshop and their neighbourhood, the problem is that Santa wasn’t the one possessed and they didn’t read the summoning instructions properly, so they are then greeted by ghosts from past, present and future and are sent into 3 areas to right wrongs they caused, the future vision plays a key part in the final episode and in a great way!
Overall, Ice Station Santa was a great episode. It may not have had the same charm as “Bright Side of The Moon” but it was a good introduction to the second season.
Episode Two, “Moai Better Blues” sets out with Sybil being chased by a triangle that leads to Easter Island. Upon arriving you learn from the Moai heads that the volcano is going to erupt and Sam and Max have to find a way to stop it, of course things are never that simple and the duo meet an old acquaintance in the spirit of Mr Spatula, who has sinister things in mind.
Moai Better Blues is potentially the weakest episode of the entire season, but that’s only because the last 3 are so superbly well done. It still maintains the humour and has a nice relaxing feeling to it.
Episode Three, “Night of the Raving Dead” begins with Sam and Max locked up in a machine with spikes winding down to crush them, when Max asks how they got there in the first place, Sam starts by doing a flashback..
The flashback begins with a zombie wandering into Sam and Max’s apartment and stealing the hand of Jesse James. They then proceed to the cause of the zombie outbreaks, a castle in Stuttgart where Agent Superball (Yes, that’s who my gamertag is named after) is guarding the entrance. As with Season One, Sam and Max need to find a way past Superball and enter The Zombie Factory.
Inside they meet Jurgen, an emo-style vampire who is responsible for everything and after many attempts to humiliate him in-front of his zombies, gets angry and then proceeds to crush Sam and Max in the machine mentioned above but before they can escape, they realise it’s too late and are killed. Sam and Max then rise from the open grave outside the castle and realise they are now zombies and have to find a way to reverse it and stop Jurgen.
At the end of the episode, classic Sam and Max character “Flint Paper” arrives and tells them that Bosco has disappeared off the face of the earth.
Episode Three was quite short but probably the funniest episode of the season so far, to revisit areas like the Midtown Cowboys set and shoot a new episode was great.
Episode Four, “Chariots of the Dogs” continues straight after Episode Three and sees you break into Bosco’s store to find clues to his disappearance. After punching the password 8008135 into the machine behind the counter, the bathroom door opens and then Sam and Max get abducted by a spaceship to find Bosco as a cow!
Chariots of the Dogs starts answering many questions through the season, like what the deal is with Bosco’s paranoia over T.H.E.M. and why Mariachi’s keep turning up during the whole season.
Sam and Max stumble across a time machine and so they travel between areas both past and future to pinpoint Bosco’s father to return him to normal, of course it’s never that simple. Even after doing that, T.H.E.M. are revealed and cause Bosco to have a heart attack, leaving his soul caught above a triangle surrounded by the Moai heads from Episode Two. All of them depart for the triangle before the ship blows up around the beginning of the universe, causing the Big Bang.
Chariots of the Dogs answered many questions and still managed to be the best episode of the season, seeing an Agent Superball version of Bosco was simply frightening, and having Bosco’s mom come onto Max was also worrying. The duo mess with the time stream a lot, there’s also a great musical number which T.H.E.M explain what they do which was also a highlight. There’s also the first sighting of the original Stinky, not the granddaughter who has been running things from Episode One, although it remains a mystery as to what happened to him and if Granddaughter Stinky is who she says she is.
The Season Finale, “What’s New, Beelzebub?” is personally my second favourite episode of the season. After escaping the explosion of the spaceship, Sam and Max (with a dead Bosco) find themselves on the River Styx, the road to hell. After disgracefully stealing someone’s death token, they enter the Soul Train to hell and find it’s not what you’d expect; it’s more of an office building. Behind the reception desk is Jurgen from Episode Three who is not exactly pleased to see you, you also catch your first glimpse of Satan who is actually very camp in a theatre type of way, but he’s too busy with appointments to see you.
So the goal becomes clear, disrupt Hell and get his attention. In the office block you’ll come across a few recognisable characters like Shambling Corporate Presence from Episode One. The main nemesis of Season One, Hugh Bliss and then there’s the surprising sight of Brady Culture who Sam and Max never knew died. How he died is later revealed but Sam and Max are surprised to see an entire wing of Hell dedicated to them. Inside are spirits of ones they know who have died, like Bosco and Stinky and each needs rescuing from their own personal hell. For example, Bosco’s version sees him naked on stage in front of friends and family while the DeSoto also is stuck at driving very slow, it takes a bit of working out how to rescue them but even then you still need to deal with the big man to free them from Hell itself.
After disrupting Hell, it becomes clear that Satan isn’t in charge of it anymore and gets fired by his new bosses, who are…for you to find out! All I can say is that it definitely is a fitting explanation to their presence and explains a lot. They then try their hand at 3 different things, convincing someone to drink the forbidden fruit apple cider, mating with Sybil and creating the anti-Christ, and winning the soul of a computer. Seeing one of the bad guys trying to seduce Sybil is quite creepy and cringe-worthy but still amusing. It will all make sense in the end, as it all comes full circle.
What’s New, Beelzebub? is a fantastic season finale considering the strong season, I was a bit pessimistic that the season couldn’t live upto the first but they’ve surpassed it ten-fold with its humour and story. Learning the truth about Stinky was also incredibly random and hilarious, but you’ll have to find that out on your own.
The game can run all the way upto 1920×1080 widescreen resolution and looks impressive either way. It may not exactly push your graphics card to the max, but it was never meant to. The game looks great in any case and the load times are a lot smaller in this season. Voice-acting is also superb and full of moments that made me cry with laughter, like asking Bosco for something when he’s naked on stage. He then replies with “I’m naked on stage, does it look like I have anything?”
There’s all the subtle things about Season Two that makes it so funny, after playing it a few times you’ll realise just how responsible you are for a lot of things like certain people kicking the bucket, you’ll feel guilty for a second then laugh out loud again.
Sam and Max: Season Two had a lot to live upto; with a strong fan base and a positive first season it was always going to be hard to meet expectations. But, it somehow manages to surpass all that with a great story and classic moments that make me proud to review games like this, it has that random humour that is certainly lacking in TV these days and so Telltale deserves this score more than anyone.