Sam & Max Season Two, Episode 1: Ice Station Santa - first look

Sept 25, 2007

When we first learned that the new adventures of Sam & Max would be structured like a TV show - episodic and parceled out into single-story-arc "seasons" - we didn't realize how far indie developer/publisher Telltale Games would take the metaphor. Just like most American TV shows, the first season of Sam & Max ended just shy of summer 2007, and now that fall has arrived, it's time to roll out the new stuff.

Sam & Max Season Two begins on Nov. 8, as the first of the new monthly episodes - titled Ice Station Santa - goes live onGameTap (Those who aren't subscribed to the service will be able to download the game through Telltale's website the next day). As the name implies, Ice Station Santa takes the surreal, crime-fighting dog-and-rabbit duo to the North Pole, where they'll need to find out why Santa Claus has started handing out phenomenally crappy presents - presents like tuberculosis and unflattering nighties for men. More immediately, they'll need to learn why he's barricaded himself into his workshop and started shooting dog- and rabbit-shaped trespassers on sight.

For those who've followed the mostly excellent series up until this point, the start of Season Two will mean more than just a new locale to explore and new characters to interrogate. Ice Station Santa will come packed with a raft of notable improvements, all of which should hopefully make this season's five episodes deeper, richer experiences than before. For example, players will once again control Sam the dog - with Max the rabbit tagging along, as usual - but he'll now be able to run, which should considerably cut down the amount of time you spend backtracking.

Running's the least of it, of course, and Season Two promises to be the one in which the developers really start to get it together. "When you think about… the first season of Seinfeld versus the second season of Seinfeld, it's hard to say exactly what the difference was," said Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors. "But everyone knows that they nailed it in the second season. So we expect to continue to grow and get better every time out, and continue to evolve the engine in subtle but effective ways."

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.