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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.6

The Next Big Thing
August 1, 2011 | Ted Bade

Click to enlarge

I Wonder What That Button Does

Mac OS X: 10.6.6 | CPU: Intel 2.0 GHZ Processor | RAM: 1 GB | HD Space: 8 GB Graphics: 256 MB ATI Radeon X800/Intel GMA 3000/NVIDIA GeForce 6800 or Higher

The Next Big Thing from Focus Interactive is an imaginative graphical adventure game with an entertaining story, great graphics and sound, and is a blast to play. The story is set in a world where monsters are real, but have been put to use making movies by a monster movie producer. This game is different in that there are two main characters. You start as one character and then take the role of the other as the story unfolds. I enjoyed playing through this game, including the credits at the end! (Body doubles and stunt men, indeed!)

The game has a mostly “tongue-in-cheek” attitude, not trying to be serious, being more fun and entertaining. You take on the parts of the two main characters, Liz and Dan, reporters for the same newspaper, who have been assigned to cover the Horror Film awards party at a mansion owned by horror movie producer Fitz Randolf. Liz is a junior reporter and Dan (the sports reporter), was assigned to guide her. As Liz returns from doing various interviews, she and Dan see something odd happening at the mansion. Being reporters, they decide to investigate. Being lazy, Dan decides to let Liz do the footwork!

Thus begins the story. You first take on the role of Liz, as she works her way into the back rooms of the mansion to try to find out what is going on. You stay with her until she discovers something important (which you don’t get to see) then continue as Dan, as he attempts to find what happened to Liz, then rescue her. The game is broken into different scenes. In each you take on the role of either Dan or Liz, working through their various challenges. To fill in the details of the story the game has a narrator, who introduces new sections of the story, as well as summarizes the events of the section once it is complete. The narration serves to tie loose ends together by filling in the rest of the story and adds to the movie like flavor of the game.

As with all graphical adventures you move about in the spaces of the section you are in, interact with various characters there, and locate objects that are needed to perform tasks, which either solve an issue or move events along in some way. The tasks of the Next Big Thing fit well with the theme of the story, and in some cases are quite interesting and fun. For instance, Dan needs to find innovative ways to “hurt” the “Poet of Pain”, or to learn the words necessary to fail a psychology test, while Liz needs to get a robot guard “drunk” so he will unlock a door for her. Some of the tasks are simple, like finding an object, then applying it to something else. Others are more complex, such as when Liz has to teach a robotic band how to play the tango. This involved clicking on parts of the band in the correct sequence. However, whenever you get it wrong, the task immediately resets and the order that was correct previously won’t be correct this time, which means solving the puzzle is more luck then skill.

Overall the tasks weren’t too tough, although, as in most games of this genre, they often require a bit of thought as well as remembering conversations you have with various characters in the game. Often a discussion or comment made will provide a clue for a future task. But when things get rough (or you just don’t feel like thinking), the game offers some help features.


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