Games time forgot: Relentless: Twinsen’s Adventure

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bhive01 is responsible for this week’s forgotten game. While I myself have never experienced Relentless: Twinsen’s Adventure (otherwise known as Little Big Adventure), bhive’s adoration for the title convinced me it was worth spotlighting.

Created by the same guys who brought us Alone in the Dark, Twinsen’s Adventure is a cartoony adventure/action/role playing game where — and as far as I’m concerned, this is the only thing one needs to know about the game — one of the protagonist’s three main weapons is a wind-up, exploding penguin. 

Story:

As I do not possess the ability to make any sense of the synopses I’ve read for this game, I shall instead direct you to Twinsen’s Wikipedia page:

Twinsun is a relatively new planet on the outskirts of a remote galaxy. Its rotational plane has stabilized between two suns. There is a huge mountain range running along its equator, that divides the planet in half: each hemisphere is warmed by a single sun. The Northern hemisphere, with its orange sky, is warmer than the Southern hemisphere. Except for a polar region, the planet’s climate is clement. The formation of life forms on the planet was thus favourable. Four species developed over the course the centuries: the Spheros, the Rabbibunnies, the Quetches and the Grobos. They all lived in harmony until a tyrant named Dr Funfrock reared his ugly head.

Ever since Funfrock’s rise to power, the population has been living under a reign of terror. FunFrock set up a police state where suspicion is omnipresent. He is all powerful and controls the people with an iron fist. He has at his disposal two high-tech weapons that ensure his power: cloning and teleportation. FunFrock can clone any of the species at will, and subsequently recruit these clones into his ranks. He can then deploy these clones instantly through a network of telepods that are dispersed over the entire planet.

A few years ago, under the guise of protecting the population, Dr. FunFrock herded the planet’s habitants* into the southern hemisphere. The repression is harsh. Every day brings more and more arrests, and the people slowly begin to lose hope. In an effort to keep their spirits up, the people sometimes evoke an ancient legend along with the name of a goddess, Sendell. The mentioning of the legend or Sendell has since been forbidden by Dr. FunFrock.

Meanwhile, a young quetch named Twinsen has been having strange dreams. ”

So, if I’ve got this right, we’re talking about your typical “average guy becomes hero and defeats evil fascist leader” story. But with elephants and stuff.

Also, the game evidently included a lot of (for the time, quite advanced and attractive) full-motion video cut scenes between missions. 

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Gameplay:

Twinsen’s Adventure is played from the 45-degree-rotated isometric viewpoint seen above, also used in Fallout, Planescape: Torment, etcetera, but the characters themselves are full rendered in 3D.

Structurally, the game is quite nonlinear: the player’s first mission is to escape from jail, and after doing so the rest of the world is (more or less) open to exploration: Twinsen’s Adventure is comprised of eleven large islands, each with their own sets of enemies, friends, and challenges. 

There are four different “behaviors” the player can use to control Twinsen, each representing a slightly different gameplay style: Normal mode allows Twinsen to walk normally, search objects and use items, but his combat skills are severely hampered. Athletic mode allows Twinsen to run very, very fast, but he can take damage from smacking headfirst into walls and his attacks aren’t particularly powerful. Aggressive mode turns Twinsen into an unsubtle, balls-out fighter, and Discreet mode allows Twinsen to sneak. The ability to switch between combat, platforming, and sneaking may seem par for the course in many of today’s games, but keep in mind that Twinsen’s Adventure is literally thirteen years old; gameplay variety of its sort wasn’t exactly commonplace back then.

Not to mention that these four modes can be switched between at any given time: it is up to the player as to whether or not he wants to sneak, run, or fight his way past a situation. This level of choice is what makes Twinsen’s Adventure so difficult to classify: it’s an action-adventure title, yeah, but you’re given a degree of local agency usually reserved for role playing games.

And while the game is full of action and excitement and whatnot, many reviews (this one in particular) still refer to Twinsen as an adventure game, at heart: for while you may solve puzzles through physical means, you are still, in fact, solving puzzles. All things considered, sounds a lot like Mr. Robot to me.

Two other factoids worthy of mention: firstly, the AI was remarkably advanced for its time, as enemies could call for backup and alert their friends; secondly (and according to bhive01), the PC arrow key controls sucked pretty hard, especially for a game so reliant on quick reflexes and manual dexterity.

 

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Why You Probably Haven’t Played It:

Having never played the game or been intimate with its history, I can’t really speak for anyone else; I can say, however, that despite the fact that I was of adequate game playing age when Twinsen was released (1994), it completely flew under my radar.

Perhaps it was because, contrary to original plans, the game was released on the PSOne and PC rather than the SNES. I had neither a PC or a PlayStation.

Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that, as a mildly cross-genre title, my six-year-old brain didn’t know how to deal with it. 

Either way, Twinsen’s Adventure slipped by me, and I’m rather irritated that it did: it obviously sold well enough to warrant a sequel (described by bhive01 as “essentially a repeat of the first game with a slightly different storyline”), so it must have been at least somewhat popular at the time of its release. My negligence in finding and playing this game in the mid-90’s is borderline unforgivable.

Still, the game is only 150 points on Goozex, so it’s not as if those of us who haven’t played it still have an excuse.

*Should be inhabitants, LOL engrish


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