|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games/GameTap||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.10, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
It's quite possible Telltale Games may have tapped into a potentially endless comedic goldmine with its anthropomorphic detective series starring the fedora and trench coat toting canine Sam and his frenetic rabbit partner Max. Now moving deeper into its second season of bizarre episodic cases, the "freelance police" duo's momentum shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. Episode 202: Moai Better Blues is an excellent follow-up to a great start in what looks to be a promising season ahead.
Transitioning from the chill of the North Pole in Ice Station Santa to a sunny, warmer climate in Moai Better Blues seems a natural progression, but the methods used to bring about this change in scenery are nothing short of the wackiness we've come to expect from this fun-loving franchise. No sooner have Sam & Max exorcised Christmas from the clutches of a demonic, shambling corporate presence than they return home to find more trouble afoot. This time it's their tattooed pal Sybil high-tailing it down the street - past the hollowed out shell from the 80s pop-tune singing robot from the last episode - with the malevolently swirling vortex of the Bermuda Triangle in hot pursuit. When Sybil and her unlikely boyfriend (the giant talking statue head of) Abe Lincoln are sucked-in the treacherous triangle and then spat-out on Easter Island, Sam & Max are quick to dive headlong into what will soon become one of their more unusual cases. Not that any of their previous adventures could be considered mundane in the least.
The island turns out to be a nice temporary vacation spot for a picnic, except for the Moai prophecy foretelling a volcanic eruption which will obliterate its inhabitants. Sam & Max may not be properly equipped to stave off lava enhanced end-time prophecies, but that hasn't stopped them in the past. No case, however seemingly impossible, is too crazy for the duo clearly. Fortunately for players who enjoy the antics, the weirder points in this tale are yet to come. Lets just say a mechanical surfboard, triangular mini-portals, the fountain of youth, makeshift musical instruments, the return of "augmented reality," and Banang (a powdered banana drink) are only a few of the things needed to persevere in this wacked-out adventure.
Perhaps sensing players might be getting mildly tired of running around the office and the other same old streetscape locations frequented heavily in past episodes, the developers chose to focus the action more on Easter Island. Overall, it was a smart move, but the underutilization of some places could be a minor disappointment for some players. You can still check out all the favorite haunts; they just come into play far less in Moai Better Blues. Bosco's store, an important location and a source of humor in every installment thus far, barely factors in this time aside from a few brief moments, none of the story involves Sam & Max's office, and Stinky's Diner only gets a couple of minutes in the spotlight. The strangeness encountered on the island more than makes up for this, and the puzzles found there are a great change in pace. New locations to explore and the wise decision to steer clear from packing too many re-use characters into the script keep the episode feeling fresh. Amazingly, this is a Soda Popper-free episode; those brats wore out there welcome long ago. The bulk of the returning characters from previous episodes that do make an appearance are given minor parts this time around to make way for some hilarious interactions with the new kids on the block.