Sam and Max: Situation: Comedy

By Louise Yang . December 20, 2006 . 6:28pm

The lovable anthropomorphic gumshoes are back in Sam & Max: Situation Comedy.  In this second episode, talk show host Myra Stump is holding her audience hostage and the detective duo have to get to the bottom of it. The old hangouts like Bosco’s store and Sybil’s office should feel familiar to people who played the first episode. The game as a whole gives off the same vibe as a Saturday morning cartoon: small problems which must be solved, as well as an overarching main plot that ties the episodes together.

The game still maintains the same sense of humor found in the first episode.  There are jabs at talk show hosts, sitcoms, American Idol and even has a character who disturbingly reminds me of cross between Willy Wonka and Michael Jackson.  While the humor is great for those who "get it" right now, I’m wary of whether it might make the game dated later.  Ten years from now, will people play this and not understand half the jokes?

 

The problems I had in the first episode still appeared in the second episode.  The main complaint is that while the game loads the next scene it just hangs there.  The music is still playing, but there’s no cursor, so I wonder if the game froze or not.  I know having too many screens that say "Loading…" may be annoying, but I think it’s worse when you’re wondering if the game crashed.

 

I couldn’t help but feel like the puzzles in Situation Comedy were too easy. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 was the most difficult, I would rate the first episode, as a 7 and the second episode as 3.  The game was made longer by having to go back and forth between locations and characters in order to gain access to the next part of the puzzle. After getting to the end of the episode, the game felt like it ended too soon.  The cliff-hanger ending just seemed anticlimatic.

 

While some people may be glad about the episodic release schedule because it means they get to play Sam & Max sooner, I feel the wait between episodes hurts the game.  For a Sam & Max fan with patience, I would suggest just waiting for all the episodes to come out in one package so the game feels more cohesive.  Playing it by episode makes me feel like I haven’t gotten to the meat of things yet. It almost feels as if I’m playing a demo.


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  • Dranore

    Episodic content has it’s up’s and down’s. The main advantage is to the publisher. Keep in mind we’re lucky to have any more Sam and Max at all. Post the Lucas Arts debacle, it didn’t look good. Bringing the duo back episodically makes creating the game financially more manageable for the developers – especially smaller development houses. You’re able to give their company a cash injection DURING development. This also lets them build a new audience as they go and give plenty of time to call back old fans. In these days where adventure titles are few and far between before they’re quickly shuffled off to the bottom of the bargain bin, a game like this benefits the extended exposure time. Consumers also benefit, instead of one large purchase, their cost is ameliorated over each episode. This also allows the developers to know whether they can afford to develop more episodes. If they make one and not enough people end up buying it to make bake their expenses, it was certainly good for them that they didn’t invest more time and money into it. It also lets the developer know just how large their audience is. It’s also kind of nice to have something to look forward to.

    There are downsides as well. We are trained to enjoy games in long form without waiting. Where as films and television and even books enjoy the benefit of being episodic and inconclusive. This will change over time, and developers will become better at creating and pacing games appropriately to match the medium. I would expect some rough edges as episodic content becomes more common. And of course…. we have to wait for it. Early on, missed delivery schedules are definitely possible as teams learn to produce episodic content. Also, if the game is planned out only as each episode is completed, then you’re more likely to end up ‘uneven’ episodes that aren’t up to par with others. Also if people aren’t able to cope with the continuous production style or don’t take a long enough break in between, it’s possible some companies might steadily decrease in quality. Perhaps the decrease in difficulty you found in this new episode was intentional to make it more accessible if they received feedback about the first episode claiming it was a bit too difficult. Or it’s possible they just didn’t spend enough time on the episode polishing it. There are a myriad of reasons of why you might find qualitative differences in episodic content.

    Due to the efficiency of the cost/time cycle for the development of episodic game content, consoles that now have the capability of downloading games, and the popularization of download PC game delivery, I’d expect it to become the standard rather than the exception. We have more television production that film production for the same reason. Episodic game content will become the television to the epic AAA title feature films of the game world. (Along with a health dose of MMO titles, since they operate on a continual profit basis.)

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