Sam & Max Save the World Episode 103: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball
First posted on 07 March 2007. Last updated on 25 August 2010.
Sam & Max: Season One
The season, Sam & Max Save the World, is comprised of 6 episodes:
- Episode 101: Culture Shock
- Episode 102: Situation: Comedy
- Episode 103: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball
- Episode 104: Abe Lincoln Must Die!
- Episode 105: Reality 2.0
- Episode 106: Bright Side of the Moon
A compilation of Sam & Max: Season One has been released in August 2007 by The Adventure Company in partnership with Telltale Games. It includes all 6 episodes of the season as well as bonus contents such as behind the scenes videos, trailers, desktop wallpapers, concept artwork, a soundtrack sampler, and a full-sized printed limited edition poster.
Episode 3 has arrived! We are now halfway through Season One. For newcomers to Sam & Max, let me summarize for you: Sam and Max, a dog and a rabbit, are the freelance police. They have previously appeared in comic books and television cartoons, but they are probably best known for the computer game Sam & Max Hit the Road, released by LucasArts in 1993. In 2006, they make their triumph return to computer games, this time by Telltale Games. Telltale Games has decided that the new Sam & Max game is to be episodic. What does this mean? Well, each episode will be shorter than an average full-length game. It will be cheaper as well, and sales from a shorter release schedule will help to finance the development of the rest of the series. Sadly, many of the recent episodic games from other developers have been either canceled or very much delayed (such as Half Life and Sin). So far, Telltale Games has managed to deliver each episode on time and has even announced the release dates of all the remaining episodes. While this is certainly great news for adventure game fans, fans will also quickly learn of what to expect and, perhaps more importantly, what not to expect from episodic games.
Episode 3 starts off with Sam and Max waiting once again in their office for a new assignment. The telephone rings. They fight to be the first to pick it up, but Sam gets to it first. This is the classic Sam & Max opening. After Sam and Max receive their crazy assignment from the commissioner (to infiltrate the underground operation of the Toy Mafia and locate the mole within who has suddenly gone quiet), you take control of the game. The game uses a point and click interface. As before, you can only control Sam but not Max. Max simply walks (or bounces) around onscreen in a more or less random way, and follows Sam wherever he goes. When you speak to another character in the game, you can choose what Sam will say, and in a few cases, what Max will say as well.
What happens in Episode 3, you ask? Well, after Sam and Max leave their office for the street, they visit their favorite (and only) neighbors, Bosco and Sybil. Bosco is a paranoid shopkeeper who runs a convenience (rather, inconvenience) store. He is now even more paranoid, disguising himself as a Frenchman this time around. Apparently, in Episode 2, he realized that he was too easily spotted when he pretended to be British. Much to his dismay, Sam and Max recognize him at once. Again, Bosco offers up his own arcane invention for sale, charging Sam and Max a ridiculous price (10 million dollars). Of course, our intrepid heroes are in dire need of what Bosco has, so they have to get the money somehow and pay him off.
Sybil is a jill-of-all-trades who has developed a reputation for changing her profession. At first, she was a piercing and tattoo artist. In Episode 1, she became a psychotherapist. In Episode 2, she became a tabloid rag journalist. This time, she is sure she has found the right kind of work and claims that she will never change her job again. Of course, she is not to be believed, even if she is now committed to tell the truth as a professional witness! Yes, you read right! As a professional witness, her job is to be ready to be called as a witness and therefore she must be prepared at all times to remember what goes on. While other witnesses are shocked of the crime, she can give a more accurate description.
Very little about this episode to be explored is new when compared to previous episodes. The only new area is the casino, Ted E. Bear Mafia-Free Playland and Casino. Can this be the place to get the money for Bosco? In Sam & Max Hit the Road, there is a mini game called Wak-A-Rat. In Episode 3, a slightly different version of this mini game called Whack Da Ratz can be played inside the casino. The casino also hosts the mafia (believe it or not), even though the name clearly claims otherwise!
I will not spoil much more of the plot for you, as by this point you are almost halfway through the game. This is probably the greatest drawback of the episodic format of the new Sam & Max series. All the episodes are short and pretty simple. I will not be the first to claim that there are 2 kinds of gamers in the world, but I may be a bit more original to claim that there are 2 types of adventure gamers in the world. The first type is made of adventure gamers who like to solve all the puzzles by themselves, regardless how long the game may take. The second type is made of adventure gamers who hate to get stuck and just want to move the game forward. They do this by reading walkthroughs like following recipes. The latter group of gamers is often referred to as cheaters by the former group. I will break down my own theory as to why I say personally that I am in the middle. I will always try to solve the puzzles by myself. However, if I get stuck for a long time, I rather take a hint, though I always try to keep the numbers of hints I use to solve a game to a minimum. I say this because unlike most other games, all the Sam & Max episodes are very simple to play, and most gamers will not need any hint at all to solve a game such as this. Even if you appear to be stuck, the game only just lasts a bit longer and will still not be long enough.
I must admit that my reaction to Sam & Max Episode 3: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball is mixed. Now that we have reached halfway through Season One, it is somewhat worrisome to see that there is very little new content from episode to episode. If you have not played the previous episodes, you may not notice that there are only 3 new scenes in this game. Counting the 4 old scenes (excluding the driving scene) that are recycled, it means that less than 50% of the content in Episode 3 is actually new. This raises the question of whether or not the developer's need to keep up such a tight release schedule is compromising the quality of its titles. A longer and more challenging episode will definitely benefit the series. It is with a little skepticism that I look forward to the second half of the season.