From The Archive is a series that takes articles previously written by Jennifer McMurray and presents them to a new audience. The Situation Comedy review was originally published at The Adventuress on April 2, 2009.
The second episode of Sam & Max Season One continues right where the last one left off, and feels a little bit like deja-vu in the process.
In Situation: Comedy, Sam & Max find out that talk show hostess Myra Stump has been holding her audience hostage while she films her show non-stop 24 hours a day. They have to get their 15 minutes of fame at the WARP television studios in order to be let into the set of the show, so they can stop Myra and free her captive audience.
The episode starts out great. The owner of the inconvenience store, Bosco, is even more paranoid than ever, and has resorted to disguising himself in order to throw the people that he is sure are watching him off his tracks. I won’t spoil the fun here, but I’ll just say that Bosco’s disguise is hilarious. I went through all the dialog options with him just to hear what he’d say next. The sign outside Sybil’s in Culture Shock showing that she has had many different jobs comes into play here. She is no longer a licensed psycho-therapist. Now she runs a tabloid magazine. I’m really starting to enjoy Sybil as a character. It’s a lot of fun watching her become passionate about something, only to do something new the next month. She must be doing fairly well too, considering she still has enough money to pay for her office. In a way, she’s living the life that I’d love to be able to live myself.
There are a few new characters here, but one new character in particular is a lot of fun. Hugh Bliss is a former magician turned author who wrote a book called Emetics, which is a set of principles for a happy life based around colors. I enjoyed his excessive happiness, and the way Max seemed to be drawn to happiness himself around him. The interchange between the two characters, along with Sam’s contrasting serious attidude was a lot of fun.
The first television show that the duo are a part of to get their 15 minutes of fame was a blast. This was a great parody of American sitcoms, showing that the plotlines are so hollow that Sam & Max simply adlibbed through it. The guest star of the sitcom in particular was very funny. He had a different personality on and off the set, and both were very funny to watch.
However, the rest of the television shows in the studio didn’t match the humor of the first. One show featured all three soda poppers, and they seemed even more annoying than before. Spec’s voice is bearable, and Whizzer is at least humourous as a character. I did enjoy the subtle play on his catch phrase in one puzzle. But Peeper’s voice really grated my nerves. It was bad in Culture Shock, but he seems even whinier now.
The biggest disappointment though was that the previously visited locations haven’t changed at all since the last game. Sam & Max’s office is still decorated the same, except for a funny souvenir of their last case in the closet. In adventure games, a lot of fun comes from clicking on the objects and hearing what the characters have to say about them. However, the quips that Sam makes about the objects are exactly the same as the last episode. They were funny once, but the jokes feel stale the second time around.
Situation: Comedy is a fun game, but it’s not quite up to the level of Culture Shock. It is still worth playing despite its shortcomings. There are a lot of funny moments here, especially in the first half of the game. With a little more variation, and either fine-tuning the Soda Poppers or dropping them altogether, the rest of Season One could be a blast.
3 out of 5