Sam & Max: Episode 202 - Moai Better Blues Review
Developer: Telltale Games
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: 800 MHz Processor, 256 MB RAM, 32 MB video card, Windows XP or more recent operating system
Sam and Max, the Freelance Police, are back from the North Pole, but the neighborhood around the Freelance Police HQ isn't quite the same. Giant geometric shapes are running amok, trying to teleport upstanding citizens to a distant, tropical island.
When Sam and Max decide to follow a friend through the triangle, they discover that Easter Island is not only home for the Moai (giant stone heads with a case of the "blahs"), but also where celebrities go when they vanish. Upon arrival, Sam and Max set out to distract a vengeful volcano god and even be reunited with a long-gone old friend (and vice-president).
"Unless I miss my guess, Sybil's being pursued by some kind of... semi-sentient interdimensional portal." When a bipedal dog says that to you, you're either playing the latest episodic Sam & Max adventure or deeply in need of detox. Since it's an adventure game and Sam and Max don't have anything else to do, they immediately set out to save Sybil and get to the root of the portal problem.
That involves a quick jaunt to Easter Island, where the resident Moai are concerned about an imminent volcanic eruption that threatens to destroy the island, unless Sam and Max can fulfill an ancient prophecy (as Max says, "Ancient prophecies can only mean two things: tedious back-stories and work we don't get paid for"). Throw in a few celebrities, the fountain of youth and you have Sam & Max: Episode 202 – Moai Better Blues
As you can tell from my reviews of Sam & Max: Season One and Sam & Max: Episode 201 - Ice Station Santa, Telltale Games has earned my fandom with consistently high-quality Sam & Max adventures. Now, Telltale has delivered another great episode. With each of the five episodes for Season 2 costing $9, and the whole season weighing in at $35, it's probably safe to just go ahead and save the money and subscribe for the season. But if you take my word, you're doing your research on the internet. And as the COPS point out in this latest episode, especially on the internet, "INFORMATION WANTS TO BE WRONG!"
Moai Better Blues is plenty long, offers an entire new island to explore (beyond the conventional locations on Sam and Max's street) and lots of seriously funny dialog. These episodes continue to be damn entertaining, and unlike any other adventure game given that a critical plot point involves running over bagpipes on the city streets to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad."
If you haven't played any of the Telltale Sam & Max games, do so. If you have, the one thing you need to know about Moai Better Blues is that the puzzles are a lot more "gamey" in this latest episode. Certainly, puzzles in past Sam & Max have followed the bizarre logic that only makes sense in the twisted confines of Max's lagomorphic mind, but this episode indulges heavily in that logic peculiar to adventure games. It's hardly surprising that puzzles involving interdimensional portals have peculiar patterns, but when water is that much of a challenge to move, it feels a little silly.
Don't let that one caveat stop you from diving right in to Moai Better Blues. It's worth it. But whatever you do, "Don't say simulacrum!"