ohonoesSam and Max face their toughest foe yet in the epic cartoon adventure, Sam and Max: Season Two. Note that spoilers of Season One are very likely! In fact, here’s one now…

A year after their successful case involving hypnotism and sentient bacteria, Sam and Max have had a little time to relax; everything turns upside down when their faithful companion Mr Spatula turns pure evil.

After the Spatula case, Sam and Max find that they have yet another ridiculously comedic case to solve: Santa, AKA: Chris Kringle, Saint Nick, Father Christmas; has gone mad! Completely off his head. Upon this revelation, the new title sequence is presented; another Jake Rodkin original. Loosely based upon the Season One title screen, this new version integrates into the game like a cheesy detective TV show. And it’s fantastic. Once again, it’s tacky and out of place – but so are the protagonist pair. I mean, they’re a talking dog and a rabbit for crying out loud! Strangely (and pointlessly) the title sequence is interactive, giving you the option of shooting emblems representing your previous adversaries which grow in number as the series progresses.

As always, the game moves quite quickly; mostly conveying the pair’s low attention span and ignorance of threat. You’re straight into the North Pole after the first puzzle is solved, (greeted by those damn Soda Poppers, of course) and onto solving the case of a rampaging Santa. Everything about this episode is funny: Santa, a gun, demonic possession. Do you need anymore? No. Let’s move on. The true solution to the plot is in your face the whole time, but you’re only Freelance Police so you don’t need to pay much attention to that. There’s a red herring puzzle too. That was a nice and frustrating touch!

The only mement where I screamed out loud in annoyance

The only moment where I screamed out loud in annoyance

It has to be said, that this season is not as charming as the first. That said: the plot focuses on evil, so it’s bound to be a much darker feeling. But even in its tackiest moments this darkness was quite unsettling. I was no longer in an innocent and charming (albeit troubled) cartoon world but actually in a 1970s thriller with more comedy and less defined polygons. This isn’t as evident in Episode 2 which returns to the touching loveliness of Season One in a brighter and downright hilarious setting. Foot worshipping sea monkeys anyone? Only in America!

Introduced in this Season is the elusive Flint Paper, only mentioned in the Hit the Road. A hardened detective veteran who spent his last year fighting a “hypnotism conspiracy involving sentient bacteria on the Planet Venus”. Gee, if only Sam and Max had adventures like that! Flint is an interesting character; he’s the kind of guy you want to meet. Nice guy at heart but with the toughness of 100 rhino skins stuck together. That’s tough. The subplot involving him and another close friend of yours is quite intriguing too. In fact, this entire season is just full of foreshadowing!

Also introduced is the new owner of Stinky’s Diner: Stinky. Only it’s not the Stinky that Sam and Max know and love, this is a girl Stinky. Quite an interesting character and the most deceiving (plot-wise) of them all; and it’s not until the last episode in which everything is revealed.

Season Two has the capacity to blow your mind, it plays with the sensitive concepts of time and death, both to humorous effect (such as the final explanation of the creation of the universe!) and the death and subsequent resurrection of thousands of your closest friends simply to solve the case. Oh I love Sam and Max! I want them to kill me if I am ever to die.

So, overall: What can I say? How can I put yet another stroke of Telltale genius into a few words? I can’t. I never can. That’s the beauty of this company. Their charisma and intelligence are too much for me to comprehend. I honestly can’t summarise this episode without repeating everything I’ve just said. I can only tell you, it’s wonderful – a true piece of creative art. While it’s not as charming as the first Season, it’s certainly as witty and thought-provoking.

My advice: Grab it if you haven’t already. Unlock the secrets of the universe, travel across the centuries, battle with Euro-camp vampires and stage a corporate takeover of Hell. Go ahead! It’s fun, believe me!

Joe’s Score: 4 out of 5 starks