The Point and Click adventure genre really is more of a niche market now than anything, and its extremely difficult to market or even expect a game to do good without some heavy marketing and hype behind it. What helps one game may not necessarily be true for all other games in that genre, we know this from the hordes of FPS games that don’t succeed simply because they are not Call of Duty or Battlefield. This is especially true for Back to the Future, the nostalgic value of all those wanting another movie can get their fix, with the authentic Christopher Lloyd reprisal of Doc Brown. So what is it that will set The Next Big Thing apart you wonder?
The Next Big Thing takes place in a pseudo 60’s era, the cars are huge, the technologies are crude, and the air is full of promise. The story centers around a pair of reporters who for all intents and purposes hate each other, one is a near washed up sports journalist and the other is a young, slightly insane but beautiful, aspiring reporter. Monsters, yes monsters from classic monster movies, have recently been accepted into society thanks to the efforts of a monster who owns a large movie making corporation, who looks like the Sea Monster. There are references to all kinds of monsters from classic movies, a buff guy wearing a shirt and tie but with a zipper across his forehead, as a wink for Frankenstein, a large brute with a hunchback who recites poetry based on the pain he inflicts on himself, and a professor who works on gizmos and gadgets but is actually a mutated fly.
Visually the game is a bit of an odd but gorgeous mix of cell shaded characters and hand drawn backgrounds, your characters traverse across to areas you need to go by clicking on that location. Now I didn’t find any place to actually tinker with any resolution settings but my monitor tells me it’s running at 1920×1080 which is the native resolution of my screen. So with the lack of any settings, the game looks incredibly clean and vibrant, colors are lush and stand out against other objects. This I believe definitely plays to the game’s strength as puzzle solving skills require clicking in areas you might find clues.
It was here I found myself kind of surprised at the sharp clarity of the characters and background objects, but at the same time this is where I suddenly felt a loss of coherence. In the animated cutscenes the characters are perfectly fluid with their motions, but the same characters, when you are actually exploring your environments, have a very apparent slow and choppy movement pattern. At first this was a bit of a surprise considering the fluidity of the cutscenes, not only does it bother you, there is a clear disconnect between your characters and the environment they are interacting with. I suppose that is something to be expected considering the backgrounds are simply just that, a background, but simply adding several animation frames to smooth the animations would make that problem disappear. I do have to add that there is sometimes so much on a single frame as you are walking through it, you will miss some minor detail that will be critical to solving the puzzle at hand. A handful of times I found myself clicking around the screen fervently to find something that might be a clue, but thankfully the Hot Spots and Help feature of the game will point you in the right direction.