- Original release year: 1994
- Consoles: DOS, PC-98, FM Towns, PS1 (later: Android, iOS)
If there’s one word I would use to describe the 3D, isometric Adventure game, Little Big Adventure (Relentless: Twinsen’s Adventure in North America), it would probably be bizarre. Or possible even batshit crazy, but that’s two words.
And yet, back in 1994 (or was it 1995?) when I first played Little Big Adventure, at that point, I had never played a game that so successfully created such a vibrant world that felt full of life. The music is incredible too and helps to really make the game feel special.
I was gripped and engaged from the moment the game starts, with Twinsen having to escape from prison. Sure, I was crummy at video games back then and it took me months to manage to escape the prison (essentially the game’s introduction), but I completed the game eventually (in 2008, when I was a student finding absolutely anything to do other than, you know, studying – or getting laid, but that’s a different story) and this was the kind of game where i had to persevere. I needed to see everything the game had to offer.
So, at this point, you’re probably wondering why I called the game bizarre and there’s a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, there’s the control scheme. You see, Twinsen has essentially 4 ‘behaviours’ or control styles that have to been changed manually with a press of a button (this was partially ‘fixed’ / ‘modernized’ in the iOS and Android remasters). So you have ‘aggressive’ Twinsen, which you’ll want to use if you need to fight ‘bad guys’. Then there’s ‘athletic’ Twinsen that you’ll want to use if you need to run or jump. Then there’s ‘discreet’ Twinsen if you need to sneak around. Finally there’s ‘normal’ Twinsen, which is just used for normal movement and for opening chests ect. If this sounds a little awkward and weird, then yes, you are correct. That said, the year was 1994 and developers were still exploring how controlling characters should work in a 3D environment.
Next is the story. Actually the story is pretty good, it’s more the world and the characters that are a little strange. I mean there’s humans to interact with, which is fine and dandy, but then there’s walking and talking elephants and rabbits to interact with too. The humans all look pretty weird as well, but there’s actually a whole bunch of this stuff that is explained in the story (it’s on the Wikipedia page, at least), but it’s really not all that important. Essentially, the story can be summarised as follows: The game takes place in the fictional world of Twinsun, which has basically become a dystopian police state. The main character, Twinsen is arrested (or taken into a mental asylum), because he becomes labeled as ‘insane’, as a result of the “crazy” dreams he’s having. He’s a bit like Jesus, as he’s not really crazy at all. In fact, he is the chosen one and goes on to save the world. Just like Jesus.
So what makes Little Big Adventure so good? Well, besides the awesome world and characters I’ve described thus far, one thing I love is how non-linear and open the world is in a lot of ways. You have the option to freely travel around the islands of the game’s world as you unlock them by completing certain objectives or solving certain puzzles. There are side quests (like any good Adventure or RPG game) and some tasks are non-linear.
Little Big Adventure is absolutely charming, with its rich environments, eccentric voice acting, lively characters and beautiful world. With a remastered version of the game now being available on iOS and Android (I think it’s on Steam too), there’s really no excuse for not giving Little Big Adventure a try. Then once you’ve completed it, give the sequel a play too. Hopefully, eventually, with the recent success of many old franchises on Kickstarter and the like, we may see a Little Big Adventure 3 one day (it was rumoured to have been in development once and there was even talk of a Dreamcast game at some point).