Sam & Max Episode 6: Bright Side of the Moon Review (PC)

This month marks the release of the final episode of Sam and Max, Season 1. It’s no secret that I’ve been waiting for this final episode with a great deal of anticipation and the results didn’t disappoint. Anyone who doesn’t know the history of this series of games go back to my last article for Sam and Max: Reality 2.0 and there’s a backtrack there. Telltale games, awesome adventure series picked up from comics and a much earlier game from LucasArts. There…caught up.

Oh no! It’s Hugh in the moon
Horny the unicorn…so many levels of wrong

Bright Side of the Moon starts out intrepid duo off where they often begin, back in the office, which is currently serving as grounds for the filming of a statement from President Max. At this point the force responsible for the over arcing evil of the season is revealed without much fanfare. Hugh Bliss, one crazed prismatologist, who we met back in earlier episodes seems to be hypnotizing the world from…where else…the moon. I have to say I wasn’t entirely surprised it was Hugh Bliss, as he was one of the characters that I felt a need to strangle every time he showed up in the season and, as a note, after this episode I hate the phrase ‘I’m Hugh Bliss’. No one can be that happy all the time without being evil - or maybe it was something to do with the goatee. Isn’t it a rule somewhere that all great, or at least colorful, villains are possessed of facial hair?

Regardless it’s a call from the commissioner and off you go to the moon. Breaking all rules of space travel, but perfectly within the rules of a Sam and Max universe you drive the Desoto to get there. I love that there is absolutely no time spent on explaining this phenomenon. Once there you have a lot of space to explore which is a nice change up from the street by the office, though you’ll be headed back there naturally to acquire help from Sybil and Bosco’s over priced item of the game. Even better space for exploring is the ‘Blister of Tranquility’ which looks like the colorful dreams of a neurotic six year old - Perfect for Hugh Bliss and our heroes. I’m not going to get into too much detail about how it all ends, but it’s satisfying and the closing credits feature Max and a boxing glove dehypnotizing the world as only he can.

Tic Tac Doom, not just wargames anymore
I remember locks like that

Of all of the episodes this one is the least ‘stand alone’. Most of my favorite…and not so favorite…characters from earlier episodes make guest appearances and the plotline is about resolving what’s been brought up before. Some of these characters are just in the background with minor interactions, but many have critical roles to play in puzzle solving or clues as to where you need to go and what you need to do next. For those that have been playing the season all the way along this is generally amusing, if you’re starting with this episode you’re, honestly, going to be a bit lost and I’d advise picking up the entire season and getting caught up.

I have to admit that the puzzles in this episode were some of my favorite and felt a bit tighter than much of what we’ve seen before. It seems like Telltale has really hit their stride in delivering very consistent material that follows its own internal logic and yet is still always intriguing. It could also be that I’m just easily amused with the use of a magic spoon bending talisman.

Along these same lines are the graphics and sound aspects of the game - consistent to the extreme as we see familiar favorites redone and the inner workings of the moon and Hugh Bliss’ twisted little domain. As usual the voice acting was fabulous and really is what makes much of the humor of the game work. I had some very minor glitches with the background music, but after appropriate application of force, and a computer reboot, those cleared up and I didn’t see further problems thereafter. The musical number for this episode, It’s a Max World, requires getting to the end credits and left me giggling.

As usual this is not an overly long game, easily finished in a couple evenings or one long session. This would be more of a complaint if the price tag wasn’t as reasonable as it is. I do wish the episodes were longer, but that’s purely selfish because I would be happy to play a bit longer. For the episodic format the pacing is, honestly, about right.

Awww…poor sad Max needs a tailectomy
Doggie paddle Sam!

All in all I’m impressed with what has been done, both in this finishing episode and in the series in general. As an experiment with episodic gaming and a return of classic adventure games Sam and Max looks to be a success. Reality 2.0 still stands as my personal favorite, but Bright Side of the Moon is a great way to end. Now the question is if we’ll see another season next fall? Where are my summer reruns?

Top Gaming Moment:
I love the deconstructed Max and the puzzles surrounding putting him back together again. Just like Humpty Dumpty only lagomorph shaped.

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