Review: Big Con is full of ’90s-style fun but sends a mixed message


Screenshot: The big con

New Developer The Mighty Yell Breaks 90s Nostalgia With The big con, a stylistic wellness game soaked in neon. You play as Ali, a teenager with an attitude and a telling hallucination of a best friend named Rad Ghost. In an effort to save your mother’s failing VHS rental business, you embark on a trip across the country to make money by pickpocketing and swindling people with their hard-earned cash. . It’s a crazy adventure that’s fun and light but misses the mark on any kind of real post.

The big con revolves around Ali and his mother, who live on their own and keep their declining VHS rental business. Ali is usually in charge of rewinding the tapes but is about to be sent to the tape camp for the trombone (which she hates.) The story takes a turn when she learns that her mother owes a man a hundred thousand dollars. local loan shark. Frustrated, Ali walks around and runs into another unsavory character who promises to teach him the methods of pick-pocketing and scamming. Using these tools, Ali travels the rails across the country taking as much money as possible, ultimately finding herself in a bigger racket plan than she originally anticipated.

Screenshot: The big con

The animation is top notch, with a hand-animated look that evokes memories of Doug or any number of Nickelodeon cartoons from my childhood. There are also top-notch dubs with the talent of Erika Ishii (Apex Legends, Destiny 2), Dave Fennoy (The walking dead) and Mélissa Hutchison (The walking dead) leading the pack in an already solid production. Add a theme song from the famous Rockapella (known for his’ 90s game show theme song Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego), and we’re stuffed with star power. For added flavor, there’s even an added laugh track feature to punctuate those extra fly bites.

The story progresses with different stops throughout the trip. Each stop provides an interlude story rhythm, followed by a monetary goal to complete the level. You have to achieve this objective by stealing money or items from pedestrians on the given map. You will talk to some of the different NPCs, or you can listen to side quests that will earn you more money. Basically it comes down to the mechanics of the “adventure game”. Find an item, use it on a secondary item to unlock a third item and return to your quest giver. Success is about finding the right puzzle pieces or the right conversation notes to progress through the different questlines. These individual quests will also progress from map to map, giving favorite side characters new additions to their stories.

Screenshot: The big con

When it comes to pick-pocketing, it’s all about the timing. You will stop a moving counter to reach the designated spot. You get three failures per level, and those failures also include choosing the wrong options or giving the wrong item to quest givers. Not all quests are necessary to complete a stage, but I found myself dwelling on some of the more complicated puzzle solutions and scouring the map for missing details to complete a quest. The game is shorter, so I felt encouraged to dig deeper and was often rewarded with funny lines or satisfying conclusions to questions I had about the characters.

While The big con has messages of body positivity, positive mental health and self-confidence, he never once says stealing is bad. Your character Ali is so morally ambiguous about pick-pocketing that despite her courageous teenage demeanor, she resorts to theft in the blink of an eye. Someone just suggests the idea of ​​flying and she jumps head first without hesitation. That’s what takes me away from the game a bit. At the end of the day, there’s a throwaway line regarding Ali’s kleptomaniacal inclinations, and it’s just as quickly ignored. It seems incongruous to what is written as an irreverent ’90s fling. Ali constantly robs kids, parents, struggling actors, couples, and anyone else he thinks about. Are we supposed to support her, as it seemed at odds with our protagonist’s actions. Of course, she does this to save her mom’s video store, but I rarely felt morally positive at the end of the levels. I also tried doing a race without a pickpocket, but it’s almost impossible to progress and the rhythms of the story still require scams and tips, so that’s not a fix either. It just didn’t match what I thought our character’s personality was. The only real message is that Rad Ghost really doesn’t want you to do drugs, which is certainly played for a laugh.

Screenshot: The big con

The big con shoots a serious double duty to explode the attitude in your ’90s face on your console while also giving out a solidly fun travel story. The characters are totally unique and fun to interact with, with solid star power to reinforce the obvious quality of this package. The real downside comes from the lingering sense of conflict between Ali’s personality and his moral vacuum when it comes to swindling. As far as she’s concerned, that’s not a problem and it makes it more difficult for our hero to take root to save his family business. I won’t say it’s impossible, but it definitely raises an eyebrow, which now that I’m sitting here and thinking about it … How many episodes of ’90s TV start by coincidence but end to the status quo for next week’s episode? Maybe it’s just another way The big con tries to take us back to our childhood. Like most entertainment of the time, this is a fantastic work of art, as long as you don’t think about it too much.

The big con is available now on PC via Steam and for Xbox One and Xbox Series S | X.

We have been provided with a Steam key for the purposes of this review.

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