The first season of Sam & Max had its ups and downs (two ups per down, to be exact), but was episodic gaming as it should be: regular, entertaining slices of game that you can look forward to, and spend an entertaining night in with.
Following the love-of-TV cliché made apparent with Situation: Comedy, Season Two kicks off with a Christmas special.
The first thing to note is that it's friendlier to the novice. The obsolete - and excellent - computers from Reality 2.0 guide you through the setup, and a hint system has been built into the game. This is Telltale's way of getting casual kids involved, and it's funny enough to placate the experienced who might be patronised.
The hint system - which, fear not, is off by default - is handled excellently. The higher it's set, the more often Max will pipe up with something that nudges you in the right direction, without destroying the satisfaction of solving it yourself. Well, I say that - after five minutes of trying to find a sock, he did pipe up with a particularly scathing and precise suggestion, but I had set the hints to maximum (for research, naturally).
Let's run through the reasons why you might not like Sam & Max, because some idiots don't. You might hate listening to dialogue. And it's true, some sub-par jokes do make it through the net, but when you're firing this many rounds, some are bound to miss. You might not enjoy puzzle-solving.
You might think no game is valid unless it takes 30 hours to play. You might long for the '80s, when some adventure games were solved in such oblique ways that solving a problem provided more frustration than being stuck. Perhaps you're cripplingly joyless.
The second season of Sam & Max kicks off with new characters, and a welcome facelift for Straight Street. What's more, it holds it all together with coherency, and more of a sense of storytelling than was ever apparent in Season One.
I'm not entirely convinced by the solution for the ghost of Christmas present, and some of the jokes probably looked better on paper, but I'm glad my boys are back on the gaming calendar.
Dogs are for Christmas