From The Archive is a series that takes articles previously written by Jennifer McMurray and presents them to a new audience. The Reality 2.0 review was originally published at The Adventuress on May 24, 2010.
The fifth episode of Sam & Max Season one continues where the last one left off, bringing more much needed freshness to the season.
In this episode, Sam & Max must enter a virtual world to try to stop a plan for world-wide hypnosis. The locations finally get a much needed update, since each real life location is given it’s virtual doppleganger in the virtual world. The running jokes are still here Sybil still has a new job, and Bosco is still paranoid as ever. His avatar in the virtual world is a delight though. I enjoyed Max’s quips about him. The Bosco-tech device they’re given is also one of the funniest this season.
This episode shines in it’s new characters. The C.O.P.S. are definitely the highlight of the episode. I’m not going to spoil who they are here, but I will say the loud, large one rightfully became a fan favorite. He doesn’t say much, but his vocal delivery is hilarious. The voices of each of them are performed by Jared-Emerson Johnson, who also composed the score for this season. There is a really funny musical number performed by the C.O.P.S. here, which can be heard through dialog options and then later over the credits at the end of the game.
The greatest part about this episode, and the reason it’s still one of my favorites, is that it is full of video game parodies and references. Sam & Max in a virtual world lends itself to video game humor, and you’ll find references from everything from the 1970’s to the present, from adventure games, to platform games, to RPGs. There is a really funny sequence at the end of the game that I don’t want to spoil. But if you were a fan of adventure games in the late 70’s and early 80’s, you’ll love it. The video game references also lend themselves to video game music parodies, and Jared Emerson-Johnson does a great job with that. There are new songs here that sound like they could have been delivered through 8-bit video game machines of the past.
The puzzles here are also really enjoyable, and many of them are memorable even years after playing them. The difficulty level has been raised in this episode too. The paint puzzle was the first time I had to consult a walk-through during all of my playtime of the episodes of this season.
Abe Lincoln Must Die was the high point of the season at the time of its release, and Reality 2.0 has it beat in every respect. The locations were given a much-needed face-lift, and the new characters are among the most memorable of this season. There are so many jokes, parodies, and visual gags, it might be worth playing through more than once.
4½ out of 5