Here’s the script for a little feature I’m going to start doing every Thursday. As the title suggests it’s called ‘This week: I have mostly been playing.’ And it’ll be a focus on my thoughts and observations about the games I’ve been playing (in the last week.) Mostly retroware but I’m sure to pick up some new titles too.
You might be wondering why I’m making glib notes about games when I should be working on my own, in isolation, without any need for reference or another source to completely protect my IP from copyright trolls. And well it takes a great deal of time and effort to mask ones sources and it’s a bit egomaniacle to do that. We live in a so… called echo chamber after all.
Little Big Adventure 2 (PC)
Created by Adeline Software the original LBA was released in 1994. LBA was ported to a good few systems even long after its initial release. The sequel however hasn’t seen as much love as the first installment. It’s a pity too because the sequel was an improvement on the original title in quite a few distinctive ways.
Little Big Adventure 2 (LBA2) was released in ’97 and one of its technological improvements was its level design. The first game was an isometric cRPG* and while LBA2 didn’t change the kind of game the series was known for it did use a precursor to the open-world style of world map. And Rendered in 3D which was neat compared to the first games pre-rendered backgrounds.
With a myriad of weird and wonderful characters LBA2 expanded on the roster established in the first game. While the first game used mostly anthropomorphized mammals and a species of geometry. (It’s weird and it’s definitely wonderful.) The sequel saw an extension to the cast with the inclusion of an entirely new planet of creatures, these include walking hot dogs, sentient mosquitoes and mole men. The character design is something straight out of a 60’s sci-fi romp.
It’s all cute enough. But what is really inspiring about this game is the story. Where you play as the resident clandestine chosen one Twinsen (the world is called Twinsun, coincidence? probably,) who must first regain his magic heirlooms to then free some sort of gray alien cum transcendental being from the horrific intentions of one Dr. FunFrock, who is just your normal utopia seeking villain. It’s a charming tale of nature vs. science layered over a contrast of magic vs. technology. The sequel expands on this idea, reiterates it and pushes it farther.
The music is fantastic. They’re just short motifs but they carry a lot of emotion. Each short passage inspires a mood, however as I’m playing the GOG version and I no longer have the disc I wonder if there’s an indexing issue as the tracks all seem to be random with no one song fitting a theme to the environment yet they seem to correlate stylistically.
LBA2 is a 3D/2.5D cRPG and platformer that’s in equal parts charming and surreal. I like it for it’s wonderfully fantastic world and its campy voice acting. And it’s a nice relaxing experience that’s filled with the stuff of dreams.
*cRPG is shorthand for Character Role-playing Game and is used to describe a game that uses a predefined character who you play as.
Body Harvest (N64)
I’d love to see this game remade in the GTAV engine.
Before Rockstar was a thing them peoples at DMA Design were toying with 3D open worlds in this Starship Troopers riff.
Another cRPG, this time you play as Adam Bloke who has time traveled from the year 2016 in the future to one-hundred years prior to the events in the opening cinematic. After barely escaping a research facility in space looking like a faded tin of Irn-Bru that was attacked by alien bugs. Cheer up Bruv have a Barrs Irn-Bru.
So this game would never win any awards for exemplary story telling yet it’s still a fun little exploration title for the N64. With great music again. Using incidental pieces that play randomly as you explore the world.
Set into five levels each with about three to four stages this game is both an autophiles dream and a classic video game movie appropriation with the aesthetic of being built out of Playmobil.
None of those thing are the point though of this title, the point of this game is that it’s a B-Movie game and that makes it awesome. The dialogue is more ripe than a rotten lemon but its silliness is its virtue.
There’s not any platforming in this game as most of the game is played from within a time appropriate vehicle but its relaxed projectile accuracy makes this a fun little counter on the old hi-score meter.
I admit that I’m only playing this for nostalgias sake. It does a few things that I feel are wasted opportunities. These mainly involve the collectables. There are two types of object to find within each level and they are alien artifacts and weapons crystals. Once all the alien artifacts are found in a level you can replay that levels boss. Fair enough: in my day we had to fight for our replayability.
However my biggest bugbear are the weapons crystals that offer you a monster weapon once they’re all obtained. Basically you get this cool weapon and nothing to use it on, well maybe one sub-boss because the weapon doesn’t carry over to the next level. Really all the ammo you collected and hard work finding it is basically for fireworks.
I’ve finished both of these games before but I find inspiration in them. Also a few honorable mentions go out to Shadowhearts (PS2,) Lady Sia (GBA,) and Akuji The Heartless (PS1.) which I have been playing on and off (the lavy haha!)
Come back next week for more thoughts and tribulations!