Sam & Max Season 1 -Episode 3: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball




Genre:   Cartoon adventure

Developer & Publisher:    telltale games

Released:  January 2007

PC Requirements:   Windows XP, 800MHz processor (if using a video card with hardware T & L); 1.5GHz (if using a video card without hardware T & L), 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended), 32MB 3D-accelerated video card, 230MB available hard drive space


Additional Screenshots







by Becky


In Sam & Max Season 1 -- The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball, the overarching plot of the series begins to thicken.  This third episode starts back in Sam and Max’s office, where the latest call from the Commissioner is moments away.   In case you haven’t met them yet, Sam and Max are Freelance Police -- a dog and a rabbit who have dedicated their lives to fighting crime.  The Commissioner’s call will wrench our heroes away from important office business and send them to Ted E. Bear’s Mafia-Free Playland and Casino.

Ted E. Bear’s is part children’s theme restaurant and part gambling joint.  Rinky-dink vaudeville music plays in the background.  Giant Ted E. trophy heads on the wall are adorned with straw boater hats.   The employees wear pinstriped business suits, gloves, and grinning Ted E. Bear character masks.  I would describe the effect as Vito Corleone-meets-Chuck E. Cheese.  Sam and Max must talk, trick and puzzle their way into Ted E. Bear’s back room in order to find out what happened to an undercover agent (mole) who has suddenly gone silent.

The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball takes place in a “playland,” but it has an edgier quality than the first two episodes.  To penetrate the mysteries of the Toy Mafia, the Freelance Police are given tasks that will threaten the residents of their own dilapidated but cozy neighborhood. 

“All the Gaudy Lights and Chicanery…”

The 3D cartoon-like environments are cluttered and colorfully vibrant.  They consist of one new location encompassing three rooms.  The new rooms are garishly patterned and full of movement – a toy train chugs along the walls, a happy sun and sleepy moon rotate on a pole stuck to the ceiling, and miniature hot air balloons float up and down.    

“You Look More Like a…Boris Krinkle.”

In The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball, Sybil (now a professional witness) and Bosco (the Inconvenience Store proprietor) reprise their roles from the first two episodes.  Sybil is as outspoken as ever, though more winsome and vulnerable this time.  She is frightened, and has slipped reality enough to express deep trust in Sam and Max.  Bosco’s paranoia now appears downright prudent.  He again provides the Freelance Police with an essential low-tech weapon.  (One wonders what Bosco has been doing with the phenomenal profits he makes from these transactions.)  I particularly enjoyed observing the effectiveness of this latest weapon.

A new character is introduced: Leonard Steakcharmer, casino rat and card shark.  He has a gift for insulting Ted E. Bear’s customers.  Other new characters are almost interchangeable -- their huge Ted E. masks and gangster accents make them amusing, incongruous caricatures.

The excellent voiceover work continues in Episode Three.  Dialogs are as snappy and clever as in previous episodes.  The brief plot for this episode is more mundane than in the prior games.  Still, there are memorable highlights, such as the death scene with last gasp Shakespearean and pop culture references.

“What?  Sorry, I Wasn’t Listening.”

The music lives up to the tongue-in-cheek character of the plot and locations.  You’ll hear jazzy Big Band music, a schmaltzy Godfather-esque tune and a martial drumbeat whenever the new weapon is deployed. 

This episode features more ambient sounds than is usual for the series -- for instance, the “kachink” of the one-armed bandit, the rumbling of a conveyor belt, plus whirring and plopping sounds.

“Boy, Do We Have Some Fun and Games for You!”

Navigation using the point-and-click interface is generally smooth and consistent.  The bulk of the challenges in the game are inventory based.  The puzzles seem to be getting a trifle easier (though I may be simply becoming more accustomed to the way the minds of the designers are working).

There are two timed puzzles – an easy chase scene and a “Whack da Ratz” arcade game that was probably the most difficult challenge in the game.  I played Whack da Ratz a few times, and usually beat it on the fourth or fifth try (it may have been my imagination, but the game did seem to adjust down to my level of inexpertise).  If you repeatedly whack the wrong thing, Max can give you a hint to aid your efforts.

“He’s got ‘Business’ in the Back Room…”

I experienced glitches in one of the back rooms.  On my computer, the screen repeatedly froze, the music cut out, and the dialog sometimes repeated.  When this happened, lip synch was affected.

Also, Sam’s voice sometimes seemed lower in volume than that of the other characters.

“G’wan!  Enjoy!  Live a Little!”

I played The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball on GameTap, though it will also be available at Telltale Games via download on February 8th, 2007.  Eventually the entire series will ship on disk.  Playing time for this episode clocked in at about two hours.

QuickList for Sam & Max Season 1 – The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball

This is the third episode of six in the new Sam & Max game series.  It’s a comical mystery starring our heroes:  Sam -- an understated dog detective and Max – a saucy, sensation-loving rabbit.  It introduces Mafia theme park characters.  Voiceovers are excellent, as is the writing.  The plot is adequate.  You can click through the dialogs with the space bar (though you probably won’t want to speed through them).

Edgy themes make this episode darker in character.  Although the game is cartoonish and the Freelance Police manage to avoid most violence through trickery, one task assigned by the Toy Mafia so upset my ten-year-old that he didn’t finish the game.  I’d say this episode is appropriate for ages 13 and up.

Flashy, colorful, movement-filled 3D environments.  Point-and-click interface.  Third person perspective.  Subtitles with large, easy-to-read print.

Inventory and dialog challenges.  One fairly difficult arcade challenge that requires quick reflexes.  One easy chase sequence.  No color or sound matching puzzles.  No mazes, no sliding tile puzzles. 

Annoying glitches in one location that cause the screen to freeze and dialogs to repeat.  Plenty of save slots.  You cannot die, though it is impossible to say the same about anyone else.

I played the game on GameTap.  It will also become available on Telltale Games via download as of February 8th, 2007.

Sam & Max Season 1 – The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball is aimed at fans of Sam and Max, lovers of the absurd, and Italians with a forgiving sense of humor.

Final Grade:  B


My Computer Specs:

Windows XP Professional

Pentium 2.80 GHz

2046 MB RAM

Direct X 9.0c

512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX

SB X-Fi Audio


February 2007

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