Sam & Max: Season 2: Episode One: Ice Station Santa - PC - Review
It’s time for another season of Sam & Max, and this time we’re treated to a twisted vision of Christmas - in the inimitable Sam & Max style. It seems Santa is possessed by some sort of evil power and, until it’s exorcised, there will be no peace and joy this Christmas.
The action begins immediately, when a huge robot shows up outside the office and shoots up the place. This robot is a terrible shot and misses everyone. Evidently he’s out of ammunition, so he then begins to tear up the office brick by brick. Sam & Max have to figure out a way to turn him off before the whole neighborhood is destroyed. In the tradition of classic old TV shows, Sam & Max have to pose an unanswerable question to the robot in order to confuse his logical thinking processes. Of course, with Sam & Max, this question and answer session is really funny. The questions and answers are in the form of old songs, with the robot placing his own flavor on the songs.
After the robot is disabled, Sam & Max discover that the robot was actually sent from the North Pole, so they rush over to the North Pole and find the elves hiding in fear from Santa. He has a gun and is holed up in his room, shooting at anyone who comes into his view. Eventually he stops shooting at random, but will attack anyone who tries to enter the door. The elves are still cheerful and helpful and give Sam & Max some pertinent information. They will have to figure out how to exorcise the demons out of Santa, and thus begins a truly bizarre holiday tale.
As in the previous season, this is classic Sam & Max. The humor is often political and always culturally based, the conversations nutty, and the asides are hysterical. Old favorites are back, namely Sybil, Bosco and Abe, but Sybil and Abe are in a new location, Stinky’s Diner (wow, there really is a Stinky’s!). And the COPS are back! The style is still presented as a traditional point 'n click adventure, with items that can be added to the inventory and lots of dialogues. The puzzles are all inventory based and mostly straightforward. This isn’t to say they are too easy, but they’re not frustratingly difficult, either. There are mini games added to the mix this time, with a car chase and a boxing match in this episode. I especially liked the driving game as I could run over everything in my path without getting penalized. Now, that’s my kind of arcade racing.
I love Sam & Max, and this first episode is classic in terms of situational humor and puzzles. However, I was disappointed by the use of profanity in this episode. Sam & Max don’t need profanity; the brilliance of their characters lies in their highly original use of the English language. Where two words might do, they will use 15. The result is always hilarious. Well, sorry, but I don’t find “What the hell” and “damn” to be either creative or original in the context here in which these words were used. I very much hope that subsequent episodes won’t have these “colorful metaphors,” as Spock would say (and in Star Trek IV, they were used very amusingly).
I also love all things Christmas, and got a kick out of the Christmas theme. This design team satirizes the more insane secular aspects of Christmas as practiced in America, as only Sam and Max can. The elves are really funny, and the part where Sam and Max have to make the new elf cry is a riot. And, there are Torture Me Elmer dolls. Need I say more.
This game is a good choice for anyone who likes Sam & Max, anyone who likes humorous adventure games, and really most anyone else. However, where I previously recommended Season 1 for teens, Season 2 is a little more mature in theme. This is due to the possession/exorcism theme that is integrated with Christmas and the inclusion of mild profanity. Best for older teens and adults.
Review Scoring Details for Sam & Max: Season 2: Episode One: Ice Station Santa
This is adventure gaming at its best. The puzzles could be a little harder, but I’d rather them be fairly easy than to be so difficult that I couldn’t ever advance. This game is a lot of fun to play, which is the point.
The graphics are the same as before, and the elves are too cool.
The music is good, but should have been much more “Christmassy” in theme.
The adventure is average in difficulty, as the puzzles aren’t really all that difficult. Sometimes there is some backtracking involved, but there aren’t that many different places to visit.
There isn’t any new content as such, but adventures don’t need changing if they’re designed well.
This game is a hoot! However, it seemed shorter than previous episodes from Season One and was not overly challenging. I didn’t like the profanity, either. But I did enjoy playing the game, and the whole Santa theme was highly amusing. I collect Christmas, any and everything - the sillier the better, so I am interested to see where the game is going to go with this theme. The singing robot and the elves were very funny. There were just so many jokes it’s impossible to describe them all, and it would ruin the game for everyone if I did. Suffice it to say that Sam & Max fans will have much to grin about.