Sam & Max Episode 2 - 'Situation: Comedy' Impressions

December 21, 2006 By Glenn Turner

Sam & Max Shirt Print

Ah, this is more like it. A video game episode that came out the day it was supposed, that downloaded without any problems, and that started up with hardly a hiccup. Booting up Gametap felt like turning on my DVR and playing one of my pre-recorded shows.

Sadly, this episode doesn't leave nearly as much of an impression as the first episode did. In this month's episode, Sam & Max are trying to free an audience taken hostage by Myra!, a self-righteous talk show host who keeps forcing presents upon them. Sam & Max bust in to save the day only to tumble through the studio's several shows, not unlike a filler episode in any modern science fiction show (for instance, The Long Game in last year's season of Doctor Who, or a number of Lexx episodes).

The episode as a whole feels much smaller and more cramped than the first. Apart from a few small errands, the bulk of the episode takes place in the four-room television studio, which isn't necessarily bad, but the game's scale has definitely been taken down a notch. Additionally, fans of Bone will recognize a number of re-used art assets, such as items from the Barrelhaven Tavern adorning the studio walls, as well as one of the cows in the role of an 'actor'. While these assets don't exactly feel shoehorned into the game, I can't help but wonder if, on top of being a self-reflexive gag, they were thrown in to save time and effort.

Regardless, it's still an amusing, if short, romp. I spent at least four hours on the first episode, and this one I cleared easily within two and a half (and that last half-hour was my own blunder in persisting to follow a slightly misleading piece of dialogue). Sam & Max's banter remains delicious, although I recall laughing out loud more at the first episode, and the new characters are a bit more humorously acerbic and enjoyable (as opposed to last episode's somewhat-sour Sandy Pandemik), and the visual design of the characters (especially the soft lighting in Myra's studio) is nicely executed.

I did run into a few minor technical problems, such as one where the camera angle got stuck on a close-up of Sam and refused to budge, preventing me from being able to advance the game. Luckily saving and reloading cleared that up easily. More troublesome (but not necessarily more annoying), once I had finished the game and watched the final credit crawl, I was unable to manually quit the game. It just sat on the main menu, unresponsive to my clicks and keypresses.

Despite these problems, Situation Comedy is well-worth its $9 price tag (at least, when it hit's Telltale's website in January) or GameTap membership, and as long as they're able to bring me a few hours of entertainment once a month, it'll feel worth it. I do, however, hope that the scale of the next episode is slightly grander, less forgettable, and gives us a bit more than just a glimpse of the season's story arc. In theory, GameTap subscribers will find out January 25th.

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