January 16, 2008
Serials started a long time ago. John Wayne was in cowboy serials at the movies back when movies were young and there was no television. Comics began three panel serials in the newspapers as long ago as I can remember.
Sam & Max is not the only serial out there. Farscape, the popular science fiction television show that was cancelled before its time, may be immortalized online by serial episodes three to five minutes long. It is logical for Telltale Games and Game Tap to serialize the new Sam & Max games on the internet.
The downside to serial games is that you cannot buy the boxed games in the bargain bin months after introduction for a penny a piece. The upside is that talented people from the Graphic Animated Adventure game genre can find jobs or money licensing games that were popular in the mid 1980s in the USA. Moai Better Blues is the eighth episode of the new Sam & Max serial and the second episode of the second season for the daring duo of dog and rabbit.
Conceived n the slightly twisted mind of Steve Purcell, Sam & Max continues as comic book, now cancelled Saturday morning cartoon show, classic 1993 Lucas Arts graphic animated adventure Sam & Max Hit the Road, and now Moai Better Blues.
The writing of this Sam & Max seems a bit more on target for the twisted minds of Sam & Max and Steve Purcell. President Max and his sidekick Sam venture through the Bermuda triangle and save Lincoln head, Sybil, and the entire civilization of Moais on Rapa Nui. Along the way they find the fountain of youth, Jimmie Hoffa, the ghost of their pet goldfish, Emilia Earheart, D.B. Cooper, the Lindberg baby and Glenn Miller.
You are on Rapa Nui to help save the island from a volcanic eruption and circumvent the two millennium old prophesy that says one millennium of peace will be ended by the end of civilization by a massive natural cataclysm. Don’t forget to save the fountain of youth by some well developed and not infantile piranha fish.
The puzzles seem to make sense once you have wondered around and tried everything. There are absolutely no clues to the solutions to the puzzles which seem to be similar to the conversation tree. You need to talk to everyone, Pick up everything, try everything and then the solutions begin to make sense. Otherwise the solutions to the puzzle seem obtuse and abstract and certainly not related to the plot of the game.
Make sure you try the arcade shooting gallery in the beginning credits of the game after the plot setting teaser that precedes the television like beginning credits. Speaking of arcade there is a surfboard riding sequence, where you ride the wild surfboard arcade machine dodge three flying baby bottles and join the waiter and waitress union to pacify baby Jimmie Hoffa.
The obligatory arcade sequences that must be completed to progress the game are sufficiently easy enough to anger those who like arcade sequences in graphic adventure games. They are also easy enough so that those who have trouble with arcade sequences and continually fail them will complete them easily and be able to complete the game. In addition to riding the wild surfboard, you have to drive the Desoto down the street.
Most of the old players are back in one form or another. Sam & Max’s office is littered with souvenirs of past cases. Some of the old characters actually walk and talk like Bosco. (Why does my copy of Microsoft Word turn BOSCO into Osco?)
The production quality is good, the sounds of music, effects and voice talent are professionally done. The animation and graphic art are up to the Sam & Max standards of three dimensional excellence.