Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.

-Matt/Diggler

Old Entries
First time visiting? Be sure to flip through the archives. I've been writing for friggin' ever, and you never know what you might have missed.

Score Breakdown
Just what those wee numbers mean exactly.

Visit the Forum
Multi-platform gaming chit chat, along with whatever interesting news and downloads I happen to stumble across amidst the interpipes.

TPS approved custom
built gaming PCs

Future Plans For the Site
28/7/2012 22:31

Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
8/1/2011 5:54

2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
6/3/2010 20:58

iPhone Games!
6/3/2010 20:40

The Top 30 Games of an Obscenely Packed 2009. Shit Gets Epic
7/1/2010 20:09

More...

If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request

 

 

Retro Ramblings - Little Big Adventure (aka Relentless) For the PC
Posted by Diggler - 6/2/2006 13:21

Click to enlarge
Little Big Adventure was a PC (and later Playstation) adventure game from the early '90s, and a truly magical experience that's stayed with me ever since
Little Big Adventure - also known as Relentless in the US - was a French developed PC title released all the way back in 1994, courtesy of Frederick Raynal of Alone in the Dark fame. Fuck me, 12 years ago? That sure makes one feel old.

From those golden years of PC gaming though - where it happily shared shelf space with the likes of Doom and Day of the Tentacle - Little Big Adventure still managed to stand out among its seminal peers, thanks to both its sheer beauty, and perhaps most of all, its zany eccentricity.

But what actually was LBA? To this day, one still can't sum it properly. Basically though, you played Twinsen, an imprisoned young man who had attracted the watchful eye of the law due to some rather crazy visions he'd been having. LBA took place in a grim and oppressive totalitarian society you see, where soldiers marched up and down the streets in broad daylight, and just looking at 'em the wrong way saw you shot in the face. The twist of course, was that this dark and brooding universe came courtesy of the most colourful and cartoony graphic style you'd ever seen. As a result, LBA looked - to its far more original credit - like some kinda demented baby game on the face of it...when somewhat hilariously, it was fucking hardcore underneath it all. Genius.

The Many Faces of Twinsen

Click to enlarge
The game regularly throwed you in jail for being a bad boy
Gameplay-wise, the game was an isometric adventure of sorts, one with subtle RPG elements in its item gathering and NPC conversations. It opened with your escape from prison, then gradually mutated into an epic globetrotter as Twinsen pursued those apocalyptic visions, and eventually set about overthrowing this evil and corrupt government. In practice, this involved solving puzzles and interacting with fellow toons, in a kind of Shadowrun by way of Monkey Island. Check this though...by the flick of a key, you could switch to any of three additional movement modes whenever you wished, and with each one the genre subsequently shifted too.

"Athletic" mode for instance, upped Twinsen's speed and movement abilities, twisting the game into a crazy chase 'em up platform game. A further click would switch to "Aggressive" mode, giving Twinsen new found - and real-time - beat 'em up abilities, complete with angry "grrrrrr!"s as he roamed the streets like a drunken lout. Lastly, you could flip the script completely and turn on "Discreet" mode, which zapped the game into a sneaky stealth 'em up, the only way to lay low from the law and solve some of the more ingenious puzzles.

Each of these modes had their own uses at specific points, and when thrown together gave the game a massive, if perhaps misleading feeling of freedom. This was a completely linear adventure after all, yet the sense of being able to move around these fully realised futuristic cities and approach various obstacles in any of the four ways made it all seem so rich. There really was nowt vaguely like it back then...and arguably rarely is these days either.

Blocky Beauty

Click to enlarge
With impeccably detailed animation and backdrops, LBA was a right looker in its day
The graphics still look fine to this day, really. The pre-rendered backgrounds are nice enough, while the animation remains incredibly detailed. I distinctly remember LBA being the first PC game I ever saw run in "high resolution" (which comes courtesy of speech marks as it was only 640*480 on my rig). The razor sharp character models coupled with the then state-of-the-art shading techniques resulted in a beaut of a game though...and one that oddly overshadowed its 1997 sequel.

Along with the aforementioned LucasArts classics, it was also one of the earliest experiments into games featuring full voice acting, thanks to the then startlingly alien and brand spanking new "CD-ROM" technology. Oh the majesty of seeing games on shiny discs for the first time. For such an odd and off-beat world though, it's rather amazing how spot-on this voice acting was; silly, funny, and completely fucking bonkers.

I'd have to say though, it's the music which remains most memorable of all. In fact, this is perhaps the single most enchanting and lovable trait that makes Big such a timeless classic for me, featuring original, cheesy, yet oddly haunting ditties that right from the title theme, immediately set the tone for the rest of the game.

Ooh Ya Bugger

Click to enlarge
Using "Discreet" mode to tip-toe past an, er, big arse elephant guard. Don't let him see you...trust me
As I say, Little Big Adventure may be cutesy and cartoony on the outside, but make no mistake, a kid's game this ain't. Not only is the underlying story surprisingly dark when you squint your eyes and cease to look at it through its cartoon-tinted specs, but the sheer challenge of the game is brutally over the top too. I'm not exaggerating, this mother fucker's tough as hell, and even back then was really only for the most skilled of gamers.

This son of a bitch regularly stumped me right across the board as a teenager. It required super human reflexes to avoid and defeat even the most mundane of enemy grunts, but also an epic amount of both lateral and forward thinking to solve the numerous brain teasing puzzles too. And what happened when you failed? Boy it made you pay for it. Arguably the game went overboard here, and thus had one true fly in the ointment, but at least by sending you back to prison every time you got killed and forcing you to break out over and over, it provided an original and interesting spin on the age old tradition of constant respawns. You really did need the patience of a porn star's husband to see this thing through to the end though.

Time Travel

Click to enlarge
Twinsen nicks an army motorbike while its owner pops off for a pee. Ahh, urine humour
While I'd love for each and every gamer who missed out on this classic back in '94 to give it a spin, the ultimate question remains; does it hold up in this day and age? Personally, I'd say so for the most part. Technically it defies embarrassment at least, and both the game world and the story itself are just as magical, touching and loveable as they ever were. For these reasons I can't recommend LBA enough to those who missed out on it first time around, and will happily point 'em towards the LBAWin homepage, which features a Windows XP launcher to get this DOS relic up and running on modern systems.

It's in terms of that raw challenge that today's gamers may find hurdles though. For better or worse, replaying the stupendously challenging LBA here in 2006 both surprises and reminds me of just how damn easy games have become over the years. In stark contrast to something like Beyond Good & Evil - perhaps its closest modern day equivalent - it's a cruel, punishing bastard of a game. Are today's more pampered players ready for that?

With video gaming's success in the mainstream of recent years, one has to wonder if perhaps the games themselves have lost some of their balls along the way. If LBA is anything to go by, they've certainly lost some of their majesty too...

Untitled Document

The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

Untitled Document

Game
Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

Film
The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Show
Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Tune
Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

Untitled Document

Forums

The TPS Forum
Official boards for the site

RLLMUK Forum
The old Edge forums gone independent. The busiest and most interesting gaming board around, worthy of multiple visits a day

NTSC-UK Forum
Another exceptional gaming forum, featuring one of the friendliest communities on the net, and up to the minute news

NeoGAF
A more US-centric gaming board, with huge piles of traffic and even the odd famous face

Gaming Shows

The 1up Radio Network
1up.com's collection of weekly gaming podcasts, the pick of which would have to be ListenUP, full of juicy rumors and interesting banter week in, week out

Area 5
Formerly The 1up Show, since losing their jobs the old video editing team have continued doing what they do best, in an independent internet-based TV show, covering whatever upcoming games they can get their hands on, and various other bits and pieces

Fully Ramblomatic
A hysterical gaming blogger posting what he calls "zero punctuation" video reviews that have to be seen - and heard - to be believed

A Life Well Wasted
Freelance journalist Robert Ashley's internet radio show, with a far more interesting and professional demeanor than your typical podcast. Interviews, fast-paced editing and catchy tunes abound

On the Spot
The humongous gaming site known as Gamespot broadcasts a video show each week, in which upcoming games are demoed live on air, and viewers are invited to send in questions to find out more

The Hotspot
Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Consolevania
Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

Kotaku
What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

Gamespot
The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

1up.com
Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

GameFAQs
The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

X-Fire
A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

Steam
A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

MyGamerCard.net
Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Smodcast
Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff

 

Matt Robinson, 2011

Please do not use anything on this site without credit
X-Fire Profile
Feel free to add me to X-Fire, Xbox Live or any of the other apps to the right
Xbox Live:
Diggler26
Wii Friend Code:
1224 7821 4721 8136
Playstation Network:
Diggler
Steam:
Diggler26
Twitter