Overdue Reviews: Little Big Adventure

Screenshot from Little Big Adventure, showing a boat and some characters

Overdue Reviews is an occasional series in which I appease my younger self's brief desire to be a videogame journalist by ranting or raving about part of or all of a game I've played in the past. This week: Little Big Adventure on PC.

Oh, Steam users. You don't know how privileged you are. Content and bug fixes delivered directly to your computer, often without you even noticing. The smooth machinery of the digital future, working tirelessly in the background for your benefit.

It wasn't always like that. When I purchased my copy of Little Big Adventure on CD-ROM in the mid-nineties, it had a bug. There was no automatic downloading of patches back then. Instead, there was a mysterious note in the box.

I'd not played the game yet, so it was with some confusion that I read the following.

“Twinsen is unable to break into the Museum without the Red Card. If he attempts to force his way through the main door without it, he will be unable to progress further on in the game. To get the Red Card, Twinsen must first talk to the forger who has been imprisoned at Funfrock's headquarters on Principal Island. (At this point, if you haven't already obtained the Jet-Pack, go and see the scientist on the west side of town.)”

If I wasn't already excited about playing Little Big Adventure, I certainly was after I'd read that. It did, however, make for a slightly tense playing experience. I was constantly on the lookout for the museum, desperate not to accidentally trigger the condition that would break everything. It doesn't turn up until a fair way into the game, but it was with huge relief that I finally located it and promptly ran away in search of the forger and his mysterious Red Card.

Of course, today the developers would have issued a fix almost immediately, and most players wouldn't even know about it. I wonder how many times that's happened since, how many games that had a fatal flaw that was patched before anyone encountered it?

Little Big Adventure (also known as Twinsen's Adventure, because apparently some markets were confused by the contradictory nature of the original title) is a beautiful, colourful, varied and nuanced experience, filled with interesting places and strange characters and bold game mechanics. And a Jet-Pack. You should give it a go. But watch out for the museum.

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