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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
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