Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Next BIG Thing

Review: The Next BIG Thing

2:00 PM on 04.29.2011 // Maurice Tan

The latest game from Runaway creators Pendulo Studios is a throwback to a bygone era in more ways than one. It's a classic point-and-click adventure game in the tradition of the glory days of the '90s. It's also a bit of a reimagined version of Pendulo's 1997 adventure Hollywood Monsters.

And to top it off, it's a tribute to American popular culture and specifically the Golden Age of Hollywood. But this time it's a Hollywood where actual monsters star in the movies.

The Next BIG Thing (PC [reviewed], Mac)
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Released: April 21st, 2011
MSRP: $29.99, €39.99, £24.99

The Next BIG Thing weaves a story centered around the seemingly brain-damaged Liz Allaire -- a young and intrepid reporter -- and the arrogant and self-destructive sports reporter Dan Murray. After getting ready to depart from a Hollywood party, Liz catches a strange and famous intruder sneaking into the private office of William A. FitzRandolph -- the half-monster mogul of Tinsel Town.

Of course, not everything is as it seems, and the duo finds itself adventuring through six chapters that cover a wide range of sometimes crazy locales. Crazy is really the key word for this game as its alternate universe not only has monster actors but also robots, venus fly trap dogs, and a mutant fly scientist who does experiments with teleportation pods. For all its craziness, everything does make sense within the game's universe, and manages to feel slightly off-kilter without becoming alien.

Liz Allaire is very likable as the female protagonist, but she has an unhealthy obsession with refrigerators and for some reason can finish other peoples' sentences while they are speaking them. The game never explains why, and perhaps that's for the best. Dan Murray, on the other hand, does his '40s Hollywood "I'm a dick but you love me for it" thing, but as a result he feels like more of a side character when matched with the bristling Liz.

A nice touch is that The Next BIG Thing provides different clue options for when you get stuck, although you choose these options when you start the game and it's impossible to turn them back on if you do get stuck later on.

Hotspots highlight all the interactive elements in any location, and Help lets a narrator give you a hint about what to do. You could play the game without clues on the hard difficulty setting but if you ever get stuck and don't want to resort to a walkthrough, you'll just end up continuously mousing over rooms in a pattern and using every object on everything.

Not that you'll often need the hint options though, as the puzzles make some sense for the most part. With the exception of a few ridiculous puzzles, one of which involves hieroglyphs where the hint only makes sense after you finally get past it, most of them are pretty easy if you can get into the adventure-games mindset. There are no "turtle" puzzles like in The Dig, but if you're a seasoned adventure gamer then you won't have too much trouble solving the vast majority of them.

The game features some really great graphics and animation on the whole, with nods to classic Hollywood movies and contemporary pop culture jokes spread throughout the game's art as well as in the writing. It all looks great, although the lip synching doesn't always match up well for human characters when you're in-game -- perhaps a result of localization. Thankfully, most characters are not human.

The Next BIG Thing offers a menu that cuts up every location into a selection of goals that are introduced and wrapped up by an ever-present narrator, and through this system it tells you what the main objectives are. It works quite well, but the story sometimes makes jumps between scenes that make you wonder why you weren't just allowed to play them.

Throughout Liz and Dan's journey, their characters grow a fair amount, and you'll end up liking and remembering both of them despite their personal faults. Even the game's side characters, like Dr. Fly, the Poet of Pain -- an ogre who needs fresh painful experiences to give him inspiration -- and the little robot servants of Fitz Randolph make a unique and lasting impression for days after you finish it.

The story and humor are arguably the most important part of an adventure game, and The Next BIG Thing does the job well above average. It even made me laugh out loud at times and I can sit through an episode of Community or 30 Rock with a completely straight face. Yet it never quite reaches The Longest Journey levels of excellence or the feeling of exploration and mystery you got when playing The Fate of Atlantis.

Although the story is more than serviceable, it does tend to jump and skip all over the place. The aforementioned jumps between scenes would be forgivable if the story on the whole was well-structured. But it sometimes drags in places where it shouldn't and goes through other locations at a fast pace where you would've liked to spend more time.

For some reason, the game froze twice on me as well, which forced me to replay a couple of hours worth of puzzling because the auto-saves didn't function for me at all. Of course, when you do know what to do you can make up for it in minutes because it's an adventure game. But it rubs the lack of replayability in your face, as there is always only one way to progress and there are no alternate endings or solutions to puzzles.

Despite the few frustrations and far-fetched puzzles that made me pull my hair out, I ended up being charmed by The Next BIG Thing. The quality animation, voice acting, and especially all the references to movie material from the past century more than made up for the annoyances. Having said that, it helps if you are a fan of zany adventure games and Hollywood cinema as it transcends the experience from playing a decent adventure game to playing a good one.

In the spirit of the crazy adventures of Liz and Dan, the game's retail price varies wildly between regions despite Pendulo's European roots. We're used to paying more than the U.S. for games in Europe, but the European retail price is simply ridiculous compared to the U.S. and UK prices. As it's a 6+ hour game with little to no replayability, you might want to look around for better prices if you live in Europe -- some UK online stores stock it for a very reasonable £18, for instance.

For all its shortcomings and curious pricing scheme, it's still a game that you can reflect on with positive feelings. The Next BIG Thing contains plenty of charm and spirit in both its writing and superb animation, and while it's a somewhat flawed game overall, it's still a game that fans of the genre should give a look. For the right price, that is.



The Next BIG Thing - Reviewed by Maurice Tan
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Maurice Tan,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Next BIG Thing

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Negotiations are over. Rainbow Six Siege is a no buy from me as of now.

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 72: Sexy Dog

Meesa Back! (or, here, or something.) Dev Log #1

Cblogs of 11/23/2015 + Sexuality in Videogames

Better with Age: Classic Games Just Look Better... For Now


Secret Santa with your favorite Destructoid ho-ho-hoes!

An overdue, informal introduction

Obligatory Introduction

Cblogs of 11/22/2015 + Aw, man

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Fenriff avatarFenriff
I long for the day that people get over their weird circle jerk hatred for FFXIII related things and just ignore things they don't care about.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I'm upgrading my PC on the cheap and I'm going with AMD, out of these two CPUs, wich one is better?, A8-7650K or FX-6300?
Logeon avatarLogeon
Huh, I think we broke LightningFarron19, you guys.
Archelon avatarArchelon
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
Being a video game-focused website, it's not often I get to gush about Godzilla. So have a link to one of my favorite tracks in the entire series:
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 really does bring back memories. Specifically, memories of finding unlikely loot on a animal's corpse. I'm just grateful that Bloatfly didn't know how to use that 15 pound flamethrower it was apparently carrying in its bum bag.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
I no longer require seasoning for my Thanksgiving dinner because between the Lightning post here and Undertale beating Fallout 3 in the "best game" vote on GameFAQs, I have all the salt I need. (Image) [img][/img]
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Pfft, who needs context. [img][/img]
voex avatarvoex
Yeah...fuck the NES Castlevanias! Think I'll skip straight to Symphony of the Night.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
No more heroes. Wii or PS3 version?
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Thanks for that Mother 4 article yesterday I've been listening to nothing but GBA-era soundtracks, truly my golden years of gaming.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
If you stop to think about it, Thanksgiving is basically #Darksiders2: The Holiday.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Your daily reminder that my band can beat up your band.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Hoping more character customization options come of the next Smash-centric Nintendo Direct. Playing as Wrong-Hair, Wrong-Face Robin feels weird. Female Robin Amiibo, too. And let 3DS users download the whole OST. My wishes are reasonable, I think.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
What's the most outrageous thing you could ask for this Annual Festive Gift-Giving Holiday?
Torchman avatarTorchman
Xeo avatarXeo
Threshold's last album, For the Journey is so goddamn solid. Progressive metal at it's finest.
Xeo avatarXeo
If you're looking for some epic metal you should most certainly look to power metal. If there was truly a genre to describe as epic, it's that one. Theatre of Tragedy is oldschool, if you want something similar look into Tristania.
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With Hideki Kamiya asking fans which Capcom franchise that he created they would like to see him make a sequel to, what is another series you would like to see its original creator return to and take over the reins?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -