Review: Sam and Max Season 2

by Tom Ingram

Image: New S&M season (Too bad you don't wear collars, Sam. It says they're coming back in style.)

In Sam and Max Season 1, the titular heroic duo of a giant, upright dog and a hyperkinetic rabbity-thing stops a hypnosis plot involving former child stars, dismantles the Toy Mafia, becomes major television actors in order to solve a case, destroys the Internet, and stops a cult leader who is secretly a colony of sentient bacteria from taking over the world. In episode 4, which has been released for free by Telltale, Max has to run for President of the United States against a giant robotic Abraham Lincoln in the course of working on their latest mystery. And he wins.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks (well I can’t, anyway). These games are so delightfully carefree and over-the-top. They’re point-and-click adventure games, and the solutions to the puzzles rely on cartoon logic. As you might guess from the above image, despite the friendly-looking animation, this is not the sort of thing you would show to kids. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the humour mature per se, but it’s definitely vulgar, risque, extremely violent, and absolutely hilarious.

An added bonus that I particularly appreciated was the music. Sam and Max’s music was all done by actual musicians. Much of it is gritty jazz, but it branches out into tons of other genres depending on the location. Most of the episodes have some kind of musical hook that is repeated throughout, and eventually played over the credits. Some of them are quite catchy.

The new season focuses on Satan, Santa, demonic possession, and time-travelling mariachis. As you can see, they haven’t gained any annoying subtlety since season 1, and it works for the best. The games are difficult, but not too difficult. Each one takes about a day or two to beat. So, if any of this seems interesting to you, by all means check out the free demo. The rest of the series is available on Steam, Gametap, Xbox live or directly from Telltale. Season 1 has also been released for the Wii.