Sam & Max: Episode 6 - Bright Side of the Moon Review

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Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

The Freelance Police have barely finished saving the world from Reality 2.0 and they're hot on the tail of the man behind those hypnotic horrors that have plagued humanity – as well as law-enforcement dogs and rabbits. There is a blissful cult hidden on the moon, a cult so threatening that the President of the United States – Max is still "Little Buddy-in-Chief" – should see to it himself, with his laconic canine pal Sam.

Kyle Ackerman

Bright Side of the Moon, the final episode in the first season of Sam & Max episodic games, is unquestionably the best episode of the season and Telltale's most impressive Freelance Police follies yet. If you haven't delved into the latest incarnation of Sam & Max, at just under $35 the entirety of Season One is a must-buy.

Sam & Max is more than a great adventure series from a beloved franchise, it's also one of the early tests of mass-market episodic gaming. This isn't a massively multiplayer online game where players buy into the world and pay an ongoing monthly fee. Instead, gamers can purchase an episode at a time or grab the whole season. But issues like pricing and content don't yet have well-established market standards. All the episodes have been funny, and Sam & Max had a brilliant debut, but their second and third episodes looked like there just wasn't going to be enough bang for the buck to carry the series through its conclusion.

But Telltale games responded to fan feedback and every episode since has been a tour de force. While my personal favorite moment in the series is the conclusion to Episode 5, Episode 6 is the strongest and most clever Sam & Max yet. The new lunar locations are huge and the writers have shouldered the burden of creating new dialog and descriptions for nearly every item and object in the game. You have to love an Inconvenience Store that sells "Coelacanth: The Other Endangered Meat." Storeowner Bosco is supremely well stocked this time, and Sybil's latest occupation is more impressive than her usual endeavors.

Bright Side of the Moon is also the hardest of the Sam & Max episodes. None of the tasks should pose a real problem to experienced adventure gamers or anyone who has familiarized themselves with the game's locations and conventions. (Well... almost none. It took me a while to find where Max keeps his most precious documents.) That said, no one should pick up Episode 6 without playing the previous installments. This season finale revisits many of the previous characters, and draws heavily on past events and familiar places. So, seriously, buy the whole season.

There are a few imperfections in Episode 6, but none more than minor irritations. When Hugh Bliss executes his dire plan, hinted at in previous installments, many characters change their manner of speech. But some dialog options available both before and after the change haven't been rerecorded. So if you send Max to the bathroom or ask for his help coming up with the cash for Bosco's latest invention, he'll answer in his usual voice, a jarring change at the time. Still, that's offset by so much other fun. You'll get to discover why it's important to keep your head and arms inside carnival rides, and should definitely try shooting out of office windows once Bliss has his way.

Once again, if you haven't joined in Sam & Max's latest adventures, it's time. The $35 price tag for all six episodes not only satisfies, it titillates. Just don't let Max hear me say that.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on April 26, 2007 6:45 PM.

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