Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure

aka: LBA, Little Big Adventure, Little Big Adventure (Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure), Little Big Adventure: Twinsen's Adventure, Twinsen's Little Big Adventure Classic
Moby ID: 748
DOS Specs
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$51.96 used on Amazon
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Description official descriptions

Somewhere in the universe, there is a beautiful planet called Twinsun. It is populated by four different races, which have been living in peace and prosperity, until a mad scientist Dr. Funfrock of the Quetch (human-like) race used his newly invented cloning and teleporting techniques to create an army of fearsome soldiers and become the planet's dictator. Twinsun's inhabitants have not lost hope, placing their faith in the old legend about the benevolent goddess Sendell who would save the world. However, Dr. Funfrock totalitarian regime forbade displaying any images of the goddess and her worship.

A young Quetch named Twinsen was just a regular fellow until he had a dream, which surprisingly involved the outlawed goddess. It seems that Dr. Funfrock was no stranger to mind control; in his opinion, even dreaming of the goddess was illegal, and he promptly ordered to put the perpetrator in prison. Now the unlikely hero must find a way to escape and eventually save his planet from the clutches of its insane ruler.

Little Big Adventure (Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure in the US) is primarily an adventure game with strong action elements. As usually in adventure games, the hero must talk to other characters, and collect and use objects. However, not all the problems have to be solved with dialogue and item manipulation. The player can activate four different behavior modes for Twinsen: Normal, Aggressive, Athletic, and Discreet. The first is used for peaceful exploration and conversations; Aggressive mode allows Twinsen to punch and kick other characters; Athletic mode must be applied when it becomes necessary to run quickly and jump; Discreet effectively puts Twinsen in a stealth mode, making it possible to sneak by hostile character unnoticed. While activation of a particular mode is often required to solve a problem, many situations can be dealt with in different ways.

The game universe is rendered with characters in full 3D, while the environment uses isometric graphic tiles. The CD version (which was released earlier than the floppy one) features pre-rendered animated cutscenes, audio music and speech; all these features are absent from the floppy disk version.

Spellings

  • リトル ビッグ アドベンチャー - Japanese spelling
  • 双子星传奇 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

64 People (60 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 34 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 132 ratings with 6 reviews)

So good, it might even make you start liking the French

The Good
Specifically, I loved the clean, innocent look and feel of the game, as well as its French quirkiness and style. This game is absolutely charming. It's like the movie "The Princess Bride;" on the surface it seems to be made for kids, but deep down it's really for adults. This game is easily in my Top Ten favorite games of all time, and might well be in the Top Five.

The Bad
As I remember, the controls were a bit tough to manage in some of the action sequences, but I finished the game (a compliment in itself) and I'm by no stretch of the imagination an action junkie.

The Bottom Line
Relentless is a tough game to describe, because there really isn't another game quite like it. There are a lot that are like it in one way or another, but taken as a whole, it's kind of unique. I guess it's best described as a third-person isometric adventure, with some shooter and arcade elements. But whatever it is, do yourself a favor and pick it up!

DOS · by Jim Newland (56) · 2001

Beautiful, Nostalgic, Epic, Accessible

The Good
This game is simple to pick up and play, highly addictive, complex and deep under the surface with a nice learning curve. There are tons of characters to talk to, all rather strange. Character development is some of the best I've seen in a game. The atmosphere is very strong. The soundtrack is catchy, beautiful and atmospheric. The plotline drives the game, and drives you all the way to the end where you find it hard to let go.

The Bad
This game doesn't like Windows!

The Bottom Line
A cute, French action-adventure title with amazing atmosphere, addictive gameplay and fascinating plot. I know, it sounds cliched, but I've played a lot of games and this is great stuff, uniquely brilliant.

DOS · by Tom White (12) · 2004

Why don't play something strange instead of the usual stuff?

The Good
"Little Big Adventure", the European title for this game, is in my opinion a much better name for this unique work of art than "Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure". Interestingly, Frédérick Raynal and some other members of the French development team were previously responsible for the first part of the "Alone in the Dark" series, that is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, infested with zombies, and nowadays commonly credited as the grandfather of the so-called "survival horror" genre. I guess, in the early nineties no one would have thought, that the next thing, the designers would come up with, would be as cute as this. It must have been a strange surprise – like the entire game is, by the way...

Story and setting:

What makes "Little Big Adventure" so strange, is in the first place its narrative, that transcends the usual categories. The game world is hard to describe, as you can't easily compare it to something else. While most other story-telling games can be assigned to typical and well-known fictional genres like mystery, fantasy or science-fiction, "Little Big Adventure" eludes that way of describing it. If I was coerced into pressing this game into a fictional genre, I would call it a very weird fairy-tale. But still there isn't a comparison, that could really picture the setting of this game.

The whole thing takes place on a planet called Twinsun – as the name already suggests, not only one, but two suns are shining on this world. As each hemisphere has its own source of light and warmth, the climate is in fact the opposite of what we're used to: the tropical regions are on the poles, while the arctic regions are near the equator. There, a seemingly impassable string of snowy mountains, the Hamalayi, separates North and South.

Of course, there also is intelligent life present on Twinsun. There are four different races: the Grobos look a little like talking elephants and Rabbibunnies like oversized rabbits, while Spheros and Quetches are more human-like species, but also in a rather grotesque way.

At first sight, Twinsun is a very sweet and innocent place, where people have nice homes, nature is still healthy and little worries exist. It's almost like a childhood dream. But this impression is only one side of the coin: opposed to the dream is the nightmare beneath the surface. Already in the first minutes of the game, we learn about Doctor Funfrock, the tyrannous ruler of the planet. He doesn't think much about personal liberty, freedom of speech and civil rights in general. Most people don't rebel, but against those who do, he has a whole army of clones at his command.

To stop the evil Doctor is of course your ultimate goal in "Little Big Adventure". To do so, you adopt the role of a young Quetch with the name Twinsen, who has dreamed a forbidden dream and stupidly told other people about it. As even certain dreams are illegal under Funfrock's reign, you'll find yourself in jail, when you begin the game. In the course of the story you will learn very soon about an ancient prophecy, that you have to fulfill. You will discover, that your ancestors were practiced in magic. And you will have to watch, how sweet Zoe, your more than lovely girlfriend, gets arrested by two of Funfrock's clones.

Remarkable is, that "Little Big Adventure" never loses its light-hearted approach, no matter what theme it deals with. It also is a game, that can be enjoyed by all ages, except maybe the very youngest. While it does feature violence, it is portrayed in a very abstract and humorous way, that won't scare any young boy or girl around. And the dialogues are written in a rather naive tone, that everybody will understand. There is no irony, no sarcasm, no cynicism to be found. The game takes itself serious in its childishness. Some grown-ups may find this annoying, others charming – I lean towards the latter group.

Gameplay:

Rumour on Wikipedia has it, that "Little Big Adventure" was originally planned for release on the SNES. There, it would have had good company with other action-adventures like the third part of "Zelda", with which it shares more than a few similarities when it comes to gameplay. "Little Big Adventure" has its unique twists, though. Firstly, the perspective isn't top-down but isometric. And instead of having a sword and other weapons you fight with your bare fists and throw a magic ball at your enemies. Aiming with that magic ball isn't to be called easy and requires some practice. Nevertheless the ball is your most important weapon and it becomes even stronger, as Twinsen becomes more skilled in the use of magic. Towards the last quarter of the game you gather an additional magic sabre, but by that time the ball is already more effective.

The most outstanding aspect about how the game plays is without a doubt the addition of different "modes" for the protagonist. In "normal mode" you can speak to people, open crates, read signs and basically can interact with your surroundings. In "athletic mode", Twinsen automatically runs, which is often useful, when you want to avoid fighting. The young hero also can jump when you switch him to "athletic", which adds some moderate Jump'n'Run elements to the experience. Finally there is "aggressive mode" to beat clones up and "discreet mode" to sneak past them. The easiest way to switch modes is with your function keys.

The game world is quite a varied one and actually rather big than little. You will come to visit several towns, dungeons, a desert, mountain ranges and military bases – among other. It's very well done, how the world more and more opens up as you make progress. In the beginning you can only explore a very limited territory in the southern hemisphere of Twinsun. But when you get your own ship, you will finally gain more freedom. Later, Twinsen will even find a way into the northern hemisphere and befriend a flying Dino, who will take him to the skies. All of this – how the hero becomes more powerful, earns new abilities, fills his inventory and explores the world step by step – is very well-captured "Zelda" style of gameplay.

Presentation:

"Little Big Adventure" features SVGA graphics, which was no standard in 1995. Therefore you have no scrolling, as it would most likely have overburdened contemporary machines. Instead of fluid scrolling, the game just jumps to the next scene, when you get to the edge of the display. But this is a small price to pay, when you look at the fantastic visuals. The textures are crystal-clear, there is an amazing attention to detail and every location has its unique style. Those little towns you'll come to visit are perhaps the best example. They look like a surrealist's impression of little real-life suburbs, where everyone has a nice home and a fenced garden. Trees and lush green meadows flourish together with happy and satisfied people. The visuals are strange, but appealing.

When in athletic mode, Twinsen moves a little awkward, but otherwise animations are absolutely wonderful. All characters are based upon polygons and particularly the enemies are done with style and quite often a lot of humor – in the end you may almost come to like some of them. For example the bulky soldiers, that are wielding their guns in such a funny way, when they make their patrols. They even have slightly differing personalities: while some fulfill their military duties with great accuracy, others prefer to take a nap and one guy even takes a pee behind a tree as you surprise him. As in "Alone in the Dark" – only in a much more comical way – some undeads found their way into this game as well. Despite their sluggishness they are actually quite dangerous for your health meter, until you found an item called "The Book of Bu", which makes them so awestruck, that they stop attacking – instead they will bow down at your feet in a brilliant animation, which is again very amusing to look at. In fact, even tanks look rather funny in this game, while bullets fly swiftly through the air like small, colorful ping-pong balls, that Twinsen has to avoid by all means. These rather cute enemies of this military caricature are perhaps the most important guarantors for the light-hearted feel of the game, that stands in contrast to the themes it's dealing with.

The soundtrack of the game is just as good as any part of the presentation. I was often humming certain themes – not only during play, but also afterwards. The only part, that is completely unprofessional, is the voice acting. But you've got to hand it to the actors: although they are certainly amateurs (sometimes with slight French accents), their weird performances mostly just match. For example, Twinsen's quirky voice surely needs getting used to, but after a while, I found his way of greeting people – wishing a "Good day!" or asking "How's it going?" – rather funny. In the end, the presentation of the game is creative, bizarre and above all coherent. The different parts, even the unprofessional ones, just fit together.

The Bad
"Little Big Adventure" is a matter of taste – more than most other games. Much of that stuff I wrote in the section above could in another player's mind belong into this section. It's easy to like or even love the cute, colorful visuals and the childish dialogues. But it might also be easy to hate it or just feel too old for it. What is good style? The answer is subjective.

But "Little Big Adventure" has some objective flaws either. Above all is its tendency to be very frustrating. Sometimes you stroll around with maximum energy, suddenly get hit by an enemy, stagger around and collect a second and a third blow, until you die without having had a chance to react. This is not what I call a well-engineered combat-system. "Zelda" clearly is several steps ahead in this section, as it is less unforgiving to your mistakes and – thanks to a wider choice of different weapons and enemies – also a lot more diversified.

What is not only frustrating but enraging, is to die from running into a wall or a table! This is actually possible, as you suffer damage from bumping into objects, when you're in athletic mode. Even worse is the automatic save system, that doesn't allow manual saving. You can only copy existing save game files, which is very cumbersome. And the game just saves every "progress" you make – even when you get arrested! Especially in the beginnings this will happen quite often and it is a tad annoying to break out of prison, when you do it the tenth time already...

Another criticism I have is, that the game is too linear and therefore misses some opportunities. It has a huge and open world, but the openness is more or less wasted. Of course you can always do some backtracking, but in most cases you won't discover anything new. Why are there no secrets to be found? Or some interesting side quests? This would surely have given more life to the wonderful setting.

The quality in level design is decreasing. In fact, "Little Big Adventure" spends some of its most well-crafted dungeons early in the beginning. A good example is a temple beneath a desert, that is cleverly constructed, has some really good puzzles and is in addition quite long. Later areas are in contrast often very short and straightforward, which is a bit disappointing. And speaking of disappointments: the final battle against Dr. Funfrock took me less than a minute to win! And that after I went such a long and difficult way to face that guy...

The Bottom Line
The truth is: I really can't help you much with the question, whether you will like this game. If you will or not is almost entirely a matter of whether you will like its style. I mentioned it several times: this game is strange. You may criticize, that it isn't very deep or even serious on its topic. Although it is dealing with a suppressive police state, this isn't a dark, subversive tale in the sense of George Orwell – it rather chooses to be decidedly immature. You have to like that idea or you will be disappointed. If you want my personal opinion, I have to tell you that in the earlier stages I wasn't too enthusiastic about the game's antithetic nature. But this is only normal, as everything that goes beyond conventions takes a little time of getting used to. Somehow the game's innocent humor still doesn't get me, but when I opened my mind about the game's premise, the whole thing was nevertheless able to make me smile. That smile sometimes suffered a little from things like the combat-system, the decreasing creativity in level design and the overall anticlimactic feeling towards the end. But all of that is forgivable, when you like the style. One thing is for sure: there aren't too many games out there, that are truly imaginative. And "Little Big Adventure" is exactly that.

DOS · by micnictic (387) · 2008

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

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Free today on GOG Cantillon (76706) Nov 8, 2014
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Trivia

1001 Video Games

Little Big Adventure appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Development

Originally, this game was was meant to be made for the SNES, with the use of the Super FX chip. Also, in early previews, the was mention of Twinsen being able to drive vehicles. The final version of the game lack this feature but it is included in the sequel.

LBAWin

It is not easy to get to run this game on modern PC's. For different reasons the game has its difficulties with DosBox. The best way to play it would be LBAWin, a Windows port created by a former Adeline programmer. It requires the original DOS disc to play and can be downloaded here.

Technology

The programmers used some tricks in this game: The game's soundtrack is made of both redbook audio and midi syntesizer. The video mode is SVGA for most of the game, but if you zoom, the game uses standard VGA.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • May 1995 (Issue #130) – Adventure of the Year
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #71 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking

Information also contributed by Mark Ennis and micnictic

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Loki.

Windows added by Picard. Macintosh, Blacknut, Android added by Sciere. iPad, iPhone added by Kabushi. PC-98, FM Towns added by Terok Nor. PlayStation added by Grant McLellan.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Itay Brenner, Isdaron, Jeanne, //dbz:, Sciere, Solid Flamingo, Crawly, CaesarZX, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack, ZeTomes, Kayburt, completer90.

Game added January 14, 2000. Last modified October 2, 2023.