If you're a fan of the second season of Sam & Max, you already know that the third episode, titled "Night of the Raving Dead," has Count Cryptwind Deathgrasp and Baron Bat-Anguish Von Nightmare -- I mean Max & Sam -- I mean Sam & Max -- fight a global zombie invasion.
Fortunately, it's not all "brains" jokes, although there are of course some of them. The entire episode is a fun spoof of famous horror movies and cliches. Some characters and places that haven't featured for a while are back, and once again there is a completely new faraway location that is reachable in what is apparently no time at all -- Stuttgart -- with its own, new characters (with more or less convincing fake German accents).
The driving minigame is also back, but finally has a new twist on things, and is so easy this time around that it was impossible to fail. Fortunately, no other arcade sequences are in the way of enjoyment, although I didn't think this episode was as cleverly done puzzle-wise as the previous one. A good chunk of the puzzles are fetch quests, and several others are old favourites warmed up: which of these items on the table is the right one? None, of course. Interestingly, one puzzle requires you to have played the previous episode -- although to be honest, who would enter the fray mid-season?
It seemed to me that this episode was harder than the previous two, or perhaps less well-clued. I got pretty stuck twice and it took me an inordinately long time to figure out what to do even with Max's hints. I'm blaming lack of sleep.
Writing-wise, the episode once again shines with fresh jokes and as good a take on what would be an obvious enough plot in the hands of less skilled writers -- half of the story is told through a flashback, then takes a sudden left turn and heads into zany-land.
Plus, we finally find out what zombies really mean when they say "graaaargh".
This article copyright © 2008, Gunther Schmidl