Little Big Adventure

By Tina Spear, 16 October 2008

Over the past 6 months when my PC has been working, (it was severely traumatised by Windows 95) I have been playing "Little Big Adventure". LBA is a PC game released in November 1994 by Adeline. As the title suggests the game is of the adventure variety. My game so far has terrained a single adventure that is now near its end.

Through LBA the expanding games market has successfully engaged my attention to compete with the time I spend watching TV. By comparison it is a far more participatory activity; the depth of the adventure is not so much in sensational visuals as in the complexity of the unfolding story that the player advances following through all the clues or loose ends in the narrative. Some are better than others and as the game develops a sensibility emerges to help guide the player.

Little Big Adventure - Tina Spear

Image: Little Big Adventure, Courtesy of Electronic Arts

That is not to say that the computer graphics in LBA are disappointing - they are stunning "state of the art" graphics, albeit cartoon-like. Early on, the main character Twinsen won my affections. As a puppet he works very well with a choice of behaviours; aggressive sees him with a "let me at 'em" attitude, in all modes he has an over zealous enthusiasm. Twinsen as the action hero is inexperienced, he always plays the novice. We are discovering together, I do not know what Twinsen has to do, he does not know what he has to do, together we blunder about looking for clues with exaggerated enthusiasm.

What gains my attention throughout the game is the added dimension of space in which the action takes place. It is there for me to investigate and this means I can take the game at my own pace to deviate from my inevitable destiny with Twinsen and take time out to have a little fun; taking a wander through the gardens; listening to the plants yelp as I step on them; checking out the contents of the bins and there's always plenty of chatting with other characters whose response changes according to how far along the adventure I am. It also gives me the opportunity to run reconnaissance missions (in athletic mode of course) in order to develop my own style of attack with minimum risk because reluctantly attack I must. The action is given a solidity through my own groundwork; it is my adventure in a strange collaboration with Twinsen.

The gameplay holds an uncanny resemblance to my actual life where in many instances I am reminded of my "Little Big Adventure" and take note. These usually occur in quiet but ominous situations where I feel my presence to be under surveillance. Driving through the high security zone in the City of London is such an instance.

Midway through the adventure there is a sequence in the Himalayas mountains where an underground shuttle takes me/Twinsen to a Mutant Factory run by Dr.Funfrock, the James Bond genre of my mission is made clear. However in contrast it appears simple for 007, he has a linear trajectory of non-stop actions and cuts to the next scene whereas I far more modestly make my own way and indeed find the next action sequence. As with Bond movies Twinsen gets the girl; one of our final missions is to rescue a princess. So maybe the plot could be more ingenious, but throughout LBA it has been the attention to details which fill the space around Twinsen that have intrigued me. 

My driving force has come from not knowing what is about to happen next. For this reason I would not be so inclined to play the same adventure a second time. Twinsen would remain the same but as my puppet he would act quite differently and no longer play a lovable novice but a smart arse who would not take his time to listen to what other characters had to say because he/I thought that he/I knew all the answers. However I think one adventure and six months of gameplay is quite sufficient for one game.