Review By: Jared Black
|# Of Players:||1|
|Accessories:||Premieres on GameTap, with a worldwide release the following day via Telltale Games|
Season two of everyone’s favorite episodic series got off to a fantastic start in Ice Station Santa, a witty and twisted episode that found Sam & Max squaring off against a demon-possessed Santa. Episode 202 picks up mere moments after the duo returns from the North Pole, when they find a gigantic triangular dimensional portal chasing Sybil down the street. Turns out the portal leads to Easter Island, where Sam and Max are tasked with stopping a volcanic eruption and saving the island’s population of sentient Moai heads and famous perpetual babies.
The jokes this time primarily revolve around the island’s bizarre inhabitants. The three Moai heads that task Sam & Max with fulfilling their ancient prophecy and saving the island include one buried past its mouth (yet futilely tries to communicate) that controls lightning, a female that can command the wind, and a humorless male that controls the power of earth. The island is also home to the baby forms of several lost celebrities, including Amelia Earhardt, D.B. Cooper, the Lindbergh baby, and Glen Miller.
This cast of characters just isn’t up to the series’ usual standards though, and as a result the jokes fall a bit flat. Perhaps it’s the generation gap, but the babies just aren’t that funny and their jokes are obvious ones you’d expect given their reputations as adults. For example, D.B. Cooper makes several jokes about his great escapes, but they just aren’t that funny if you do know whom he is, and I imagine too obscure to matter to gamers that don’t know who he is. The Moai heads aren’t particularly interesting either, aside from one unexpected turn at the end of the game that’s good for a laugh. There’s another set of inhabitants on the island too in the form of underwater sea monkeys, but their accents make their dialog tedious aside from a few chuckles. That’s not to say that the game isn’t funny, because this is Sam & Max after all so it definitely is, but this is a series with extremely high standards and this installment just doesn’t live up to that. In fact, most of the best laughs come from interaction with the environment instead of the characters, in particular several digs at popular video games (the Metal Gear Solid reference is golden).
Perhaps it’s just a symptom of this being the second episode in the season, but the storyline seems to stall out for much of this installment. Several characters disappear completely after brief cameos (or like Jimmy the Rat simply do nothing), and although I suspect their absences are likely to be explained later this season, it still leaves the latter half of this game painfully short on character interaction.
The puzzles don’t disappoint however, and in fact the one thing this episode truly does better than Ice Station Santa is present a more even difficulty level. This episode has a good mix of really easy and thought provoking puzzles, and smartly working through the different inventory items and listening to dialog clues will usually make the solution to a puzzle readily apparent. They aren’t particularly clever, but they are balanced.
As a bridge between the season opener and the last three episodes this season, Moai Better Blues does its job well enough. It’s easy to see that a few things are being setup for later episodes in this one, although that unfortunately leaves this game a little flat. While casual fans of the series may be able to skip this episode and not miss a whole lot, given the minimal time investment involved I still recommend playing through it anyway.
Posted: 2008-03-13 13:07:26 PST