Sam and Max have been up to a lot since Telltale Games brought the popular crime solving (and often committing) duo of dog and rabbit-thingy detectives back into the adventure gaming spotlight. We've seen them take on cyberspace, the moon, the north pole, and even their own neighbourhood just to name a few of the wacky settings and storylines covered by the
only seems fitting Sam and Max would find themselves in tropical paradise for the second episode of the new season, and this is precisely the case with Sam & Max Season 2 Episode 2: Moai Better Blues.
As is usually the case, Sam and Max are minding their own business back in their city apartment when a disturbance outside grabs their attention. What could it be this time around? If you answered 'a giant Bermuda triangle teleport leading to Easter Island', then you're absolutely correct (well done!). Once you finish a few of the initial tasks regarding how you interact with this teleport triangle and others like it, the episode mostly takes place on Easter Island, where Sam and Max will meet some new characters
of all shapes and sizes, witness a strange love triangle between an eager presidential statue, a rejected human woman, and an uninterested Moai, as well as experience many other oddities and challenges along the way. So, basically, Sam & Max gaming as we know and love.
Being but a mere episode in what will gradually become a complete new season, Moai Better Blues is obviously not going to redefine any of the gameplay mechanics although it does continue some of the changes we saw in the first episode for the second season, specifically the inclusion of the hint system, which allows gamers of just about any skill level to sit down and enjoy Moai Better Blues without being stuck excessively. The hints come from Max at seemingly random times during the
game, triggered by your current progress in the storyline and your current location. The good thing about this system is you won't often be given such a big hint that it totally eliminates the need to think for yourself even on its most frequent setting - most of the time, the hints are subtle suggestions regarding which location you should currently be in, or what type of object or item you should be looking for.
Although I must say, if there has ever been an episode that needed some sort of hint system, Moai Better Blues may just be it. Now, I'm no adventure gaming wiz - sometimes I find myself stuck for ages on the most simple puzzle and yet breeze through the more challenging ones - but I've played most of the episodes
now eight episodes has seen its fair share of almost silly-hard solutions to situations that don't make a whole lot of sense, and Moai Better Blues seems to continue this theme with a few of its key moments. Obviously I'm not going to elaborate too much as to spoil anything, but lets just say new comers to the series are probably best served starting on Ice Station Santa, if not season 1, to get a feel for what type of solutions you'll need to be looking out for. Even with that said though, Moai
Better Blues will feature a few situations that I suspect even veterans of the series may struggle with on their own, as a certain 'tool' at Sams' disposable seems to have a larger influence in this episode as opposed to most others, almost like Telltale have deliberately ignored this 'ability' just so they could spring it on you in one episode for an extra challenge.
Is the result frustration? Sure, sometimes. But you could argue an adventure game isn't good unless it really stumps you on occasions, requiring solutions and problem solving so difficult that they can be very rewarding once completed, even if it does require some freelance thinking. It's how you as a gamer rise to the task with these types of games that will likely determine how much fun you have playing them, so as expected Moai Better Blues is really best described as an adventure game made
by adventure gaming fans for adventure gaming fans. That's not to say though that this is necessarily a niche game, as with some patience and a keen ear when listening for the hints, even gamers who are not typically fans of adventure gaming will surely find some attraction here. Once again, the excellent humor on offer - at least by gaming standards - really does a good job of spicing up the storyline, keeping Moai Better Blues well in line with that unique Sam & Max experience.
The Sam & Max series just keeps chugging along with its fun adventure gameplay fit for consumption by gamers of all sorts. The island theme this time around works well and once again we see a great job of combining classic Sam & Max humor and gameplay with new environments and storyline mechanics, offering a worthy follow up to the enjoyable Ice Station Santa. This episode didn't really stand out in any particular way, but if you've already been enjoying the return of Sam
& Max adventure gaming there is little reason to avoid continuing the fun with Moai Better Blues. If you've yet to check out what all the fuss is about, it's never too late to start although, like most episodes so far, new comers are better off starting at least from the first episode in Season 2 if not Season 1.