Prior to reading this review, I strongly recommend that you go back to my previous Sam and Max reviews to gain an idea of how I have viewed the series and how, in my eyes, the series has progressed since the first episode was released back in the fall of 2006. Sam and Max Season One started out strong, began to lag, and then with Episode 4 really started to hit its stride.
Episodic gaming was considered by many, me among them, to be the next wave or the “next big thing.” This was of course before the whole thing was derailed thanks to the folks at Valve redefining term by deciding that episodic meant once every couple of years, followed then by Ritual canceling SiN after one episode, despite planning nine. Telltale games themselves weren’t immune, as they only managed to release two episodes of the Bone series before stopping. In fact, as of this writing in March of 2008, only the Sam and Max series has found success in the episodic gaming market, having to date released one six-episode season and currently on episode four of season 2.
As could be expected, the graphics and sound quality continue to remain consistent. This is a good thing, as the animated style of graphics lends the proper cartoonish appearance that folks expect from a Sam and Max game. The voice acting continues to set the bar for comedic content and timing in a video game, and the sound effects and music, particularly the original songs that run during the credits, are also top notch.
Episode 5 ended with Sam and Max destroying the Internet, yet again saving the world from another form of mass hypnosis. At the beginning of this episode, our dynamic duo has finally put the rainbow colored pieces together and realized that resident cultist Hugh Bliss, the rainbow colored prismatologist, is the mastermind behind these acts. Why is Hugh Bliss intent on hypnotizing our planet? What foul motives lie behind his repeated attempts to control our planet? Why is Max still President of the Unites States? Perhaps all of these questions will be answered when our heroes embark on a harrowing adventure to the moon, the lair of their multicolored nemesis.
Bright Side of the Moon finds the always paranoid Bosco dealing with some rather strange and potentially serious mother issues, while Sybil is taking on royal aspirations of the Canadian kind, maintaining the consistently crazy status quo we expect from them. As the last episode of the first season, I was rather pleased by the return of characters like Abraham Lincoln’s head, the hilarious robotic group C.O.P.S., and even the appearance of Mr. Featherly from episode 2. It’s always a nice touch when completing the last episode in a series or season, to have things go full circle. As the last episode of this season, I think that adventure game enthusiasts will be pleased with the way this particular story is wrapped up, especially if you have always wanted to play matchmaker between royalty and the head of a statue.
While much of this episode is spent on the Moon, you will find yourself having to travel back and forth between the Moon and your town, in order to find the items necessary to complete the various puzzles you encounter. This episode definitely felt like it had a lot more problem-solving and puzzles than some of the previous ones, seeming to forgo the driving portions and dialogue tree puzzles for inventory management ones. This felt a bit like a step back, especially after Reality 2.0
set such a high bar for puzzle diversity. This was far more in line with the first three episodes than the last two. In terms of challenge, again I felt that everything was fairly logical, other than a rather obscure bit of problem-solving at the end of the game.
"...everything seemed a bit too familiar."
The first five episodes all seemed to have their own themes going, with new characters being introduced and something funny and new always right around the corner, which was not necessarily the case here. While there were new settings in Bright Side of the Moon, everything seemed a bit too familiar. Hugh Bliss wasn’t a new character, and we had already had plenty of opportunities to see the comedy of prismatology. Every character we encountered in this episode was from a previous episode, which while entertaining made this feel almost more like a rehash episode than something truly new.
The Bright side of the Moon held up the season long standard of 2-3 hours of gameplay length, allowing those motivated enough to complete the episode in one sitting. This continues to be the right amount of content for each episode, preventing things from becoming too stale or boring. By now, Sam and Max have its own audience, and those playing Episode 6 almost assuredly played through the previous 5 installments already.
Sam and Max Episode 6: Bright Side of the Moon is a fun and entertaining ending to an ambitious episodic game. Telltale games managed to release an entire season of episodes on a solid production schedule, making them the only company truly successful at making this type of content consistently available and accessible to gamers. They were successful in maintaining a certain standard of quality among the episodes and even managed to improve as the season progressed.
Bright Side of the Moon may have failed to achieve the same level of quality and diversity of gameplay that
Reality 2.0 offered, it was still a fun title and a worthy enough ending to the first season. I remain hopeful that the series will continue to evolve in the coming second season.
- Familiar faces return (i.e. C.O.P.S)
- Fitting ending to the season long story arc
- No replay value
- Bit of a step back from Episode 5