The Big Con Review (Xbox Series X|S)
Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Developed: Mighty Yell
Published: Skybound Games
Release Date: August 31st, 2021
Platforms: Windows/Xbox family
*Game provided to me by Skybound Games
''Saved By The Con''
The Big Con is a crime comedy adventure game that is developed by Mighty Yell and published by Skybound Games. Taking inspiration from classic kids television and all of 1990's culture, Mighty Yell attempts to bring us a title that not only pays homage to the glory and nostalgia filled days of the early to mid 1990s, but also offer us a fun romp of a time in the form of an old adventure game too. But is their vision fully realized? or are we stuck being at the corner, just to see this bus fly on by? will it be alright? or will this game be saved by the bell. Let's find out!
Play as Ali, a curious and sarcastic high schooler who ditches band camp to go on a cross-country road trip. But this isn’t a joyride! Ali is on an all-important mission to save her family video store from the nasty loan sharks trying to shut their shop down. Joined by your partner in crime, Ted, you set off on a crime filled adventure to gain enough money to save the shop, save your favorite place in the world and have a way past cool time.
What do you get when you mix anti-drug PSA's, kids cartoons and neon color fashion style? Well besides really nostalgic memories, you also get The Big Con game. The Big Con is a crime comedy adventure game that sees you as a the 17 year old named, Ali, who is trying to find a way to save up her money in order to save her families video rental store from a very mean and obnoxious loan shark that her mom has gotten involved with. Her mom owes what? 97 thousand dollars? Holy hunka munka, that's a lot dough and as Mr Dink would say, that is also ''very expensive''. How the heck is she going to get that amount of money in only a week. That's impossible. If only there was someone she can turn to that could help her figure this whole mess out. Wait ''I know'' she says. ''Can you help me, Rad Ghost?''. Introducing Rad Ghost, the 1990s government propaganda mascot that you would see all over the arcade machines back in the day and on saturday morning cartoon shows featuring stars like Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles telling you not to drink and smoke. Rad Ghost tells you how much of a bummer your situation is, but its time you make your own path and do what is right for you and you only, trust your heart, believe in yourself, but remember Ali, you're rad enough to do this, but...just don't do drugs. ''Thanks Rad Ghost!''
As you set out into town to figure things out, you're told to talk to a kid named Ted. Ted is a local kid who is weirdly outside selling ice cream from a miniature little ice cream truck. As you strike a conversation with him, he's pretty rude, but at the same time, very intriguing. He inquires about your worries and your troubles and gives you the whole ''Hey kid, I got a cool job for ya'' speech. You know, all the red flags you are taught by your parents when you were growing up to look out for. But because this is the 90s, you didn't have a cell phone or even the internet to immediately look things up on, so you of course trust his word and decide to join him on his money scheme. You need the money and this could be a great way to make a quick ends meet. ''So what exactly do I have to do? haha, steal stuff? wait what? I do? hmm.''. After being a tad bit hesitant, Ali agrees to what she has to do and is told the easiest way to get quick cash is to pick pocket people and steal money right out from underneath their nose. Simple. However, if you're caught, you're on your own and you will get in BIG trouble. This is now where the core game play of your adventure begins and your trek across the land sets forth and boy is it a whacky journey.
The game play of The Big Con is not very complex and when it all comes down to it, its rather basic. Now before you ''As If'' me with attitude, let me explain to you that that's not a bad thing at all, quite the opposite. Starting off your journey in your home town, you will be tasked with going from person to person pick pocketing them to see how much money they have. Using the Y button to hold down your grab meter and releasing it in the proper spot, a large or small purple area, will reward you your ''hard earned cash''. Should you fail however, the civilian will get extremely mad at you, completely livid, I'm talking about Mr Big Head '' I HAVE NO SON!'' type of anger from Rocko's Modern Life. But do not worry, all is not lost just yet if you happen to screw the pooch on an opportunity. Thankfully you are able to go to nearby stores to find glasses, hats, masks or even brown paper bags to put over your head and look like an ''entirely new person''. So much so that you can even fool Roger Klautz into thinking you're a neematoad. Kuhrooka coo coo. The game also utilizes dialogue trees during conversations with people. These can be used to either find out what your next objective is by asking the right questions or open up an entirely different quest line that will allow you to score more money for your help in aiding their request. Using this dialogue tree to your advantage can open up some pretty funny events too later on in the game. For instance when you reach the Las Vegas area, Las Venganza, you meet two different people who are obsessed with shoes, literally. You thought ''Be Like Mike'' sneaker commercials were annoying? well these two are the living embodiment of those, but, not annoying at all, but really dang funny. Jimmy and Sneeky Dee both want to own the only two rare pairs sneakers they like, Court Marshalls, and each of them task you with stealing the shoes from one another and handing them off to one them. So you have to make a choice. Who do you pick?. Of course I knew what I was going to do right away without question. After they both very stupidly gave me each others room numbers and access codes, I snuck into their rooms, stole the shoes, returned their shoes to them, got paid thousands from both of them, then pick pocketed and stole all their money too. Now both of them still have the same shoes, but no money! Not even miss Cleo could've saw that one coming. They had NO idea, and that to me, was completely hilarious.
This is the type of trouble you will be getting into throughout the game. Going from your home town, hopping on a train, going to one of the largest malls, a desert inn, Las Venganza, each area offers you different experiences and sometimes even a bit of puzzle solving. Not anything on the level of Double Dare or Legends Of The Hidden Temple worthy, but just enough to make an enjoyable experience. Now hang on before I continue. I have to say, watching Nickelodeon as a kid and seeing shows like Hidden Temple, Double Dare, Nick Arcade, didn't you also think those kids absolutely sucked? you could've done so much better, right?. I found myself at times growling and hissing at the tv in an Angelica like manner proclaiming ''You stupid babies!''. But.. ahem, let's move on what I was getting to. I find the train section of this game to be the most engaging out of all the areas I went to. Sure, some areas like Las Venganza had you go across bigger areas, more venues and people to meet for tasks and missions, but the train felt like it actually utilized the dialogue and problem solving mechanics to its fullest, almost in a classic point and click adventure like way. While you're going through the train, its your goal to once again steal any money you can, but the big money is further ahead in the train cars ahead of you. You start off in the low level peasant area and you must find a way to get to first class. This is where fun starts and detective work actually starts. A feature I forgot to mention earlier, that can be vital to your success, is the skill of ease dropping on your victims by listening to their conversations from afar. This allows you to learn key specifics to what that person wants, what they're thinking, where they're headed and so forth. For instance in the train ride, two people are talking about wanting specific foods or drinks, simple right? I mean there's a vendor in the next car over that sells these. Stop right there bucko, how do you even get in there in the first place?. Well the staff member of this section, won't let you through because you do not have access, so it is now your job to go around from car to car, listening to peoples conversations and figure out in bits and pieces what could entice him. This is when you find out this little brat of a kid has a very rare baseball card, but the staff member I mentioned, also wants it, and tried to buy it off the kid earlier. So like any good citizen, you offer him money for it right? HA!. No way. I straight up stole it from him, in broad daylight, right in front of his mom, no remorse, no hesitation. ''You're a bold kid, Ali, a bold kid''. Why thank you Harold, don't tell Arnold though or he'd guilt me into bringing it back. Stupid football head.
After stealing the card and bringing it to the staff member, you're able to advance forward. This is the type of thing that occurs through the whole game. Listening to conversations, figuring out peoples problems, acquiring the right items and holding them in your amazing looking fanny pack and strategizing the best way to go about your stealing spree. Always exhaust your dialogue trees with people, It's an absolute must. Not exhausting the entire chain of dialogue will not let you be able to experience the game to its full potential because certain dialogue selections activate a new quest line, new objective or makes an NPC do an entirely new action, which in turn opens even more quest objectives for you to partake in. This also means that this game has quite a bit of replay value for at least another 2-3 playthroughs because one playthrough, which can take you a good 4-5 hours, definitely won't be enough, especially for those that love the aesthetics and design of the 90s this game portrays so well. While I've mostly talked about the game play here, which its simple, fun and addictive, I feel the real strength lies in its story. No not because its super engrossing or award winning, but because its so down to earth, slice of life and a very endearing coming of age story at its core. Playing as Ali you step back into the shoes of how it felt to be a kid in that era and how gullible you were, how out of date you seemed, how radical you thought you were, how it was easy to not have a care in the world because everything around you was so colorful, bright and off the wall crazy that nothing seemed that serious. Mighty Yell captures this tone and feel absolutely perfectly. Its dare I say ''Smashing''. I'm looking at you Thornberry.
As you make your way past the mall, ride a train, rob the house of Ted's parents. Yes that's right, you literally have to rob this guys parents because he's mad at them. You then make it to a desert inn to rest your eyes for the big journey home with over one hundred thousand dollars. You will be able to pay off the loan shark and have extra money to buy stuff for the store, you're a hero. As you wake up the next day, you look around and wonder, ''wait... where the heck is Ted?''. Welp we all saw this coming. I mean come on, this dude looks sleazy as all heck and it was obvious from the get go he was using Ali because of her situation and how naive she is. As Ali's anger gets worse and worse, she just wants to break stuff, she wants to kill this guy, she wants to Dino Spumoni him, ''Darling you left my heart in pieces on the floor, so tell me why shouldnt I, break some things of yours''. But before she loses her cool, she does manage to come to her senses and remembers ''There is no aspect , no facet in life, no moment in life that can't be improved with pizza''. Wise and true words, Daria. This now sets Ali off on her final journey back to Las Venganza to steal back her money with the help of an undercover agent and save the day. Which long story short, duh, of course you save the day. This game flows really damn well, from start to finish, nothing feels overly filler or time wasting, even doing fetch quests, I never found myself burdened to do them, but instead, WANTED to continue doing them as much as possible. My only real gripe, which is small at best is during your venture back to Las Venganza, you have to walk through the desert, picking paths that go left, right or up in order to find your way out before heat exhaustion sets in. But there's no real indication of where to go other than ''follow the cactus'', which every section has a cactus anyways, so its all down to trial and error. Sure, its not as annoying as Friday The 13th on NES , but closest comparison id say it aligns with, is the same amount of annoyance as Lost Woods in Ocarina Of Time.
At the end of the day The Big Con was anything but a con, but instead, its a complete love letter up and down the board to everything and anything from the 1990's. With clear inspiration from title sequences like Saved By The Bell or level aesthetics and character designs like if they were ripped from a tv show like Doug, with orange, purple, teal, blue and other skin colors, it all really takes you back to what we call the ''good ol days'' and makes you yearn for that time once more. Mighty Yell clearly has the pulse of the audience they're aiming for, complete with little wavy colorful backgrounds and the ''dont do drugs'' PSA's with Rad Ghost. The game play might not set the world on fire with new and imaginative ideas, but being able to walk around, steal cash from people, disguise yourself to complete puzzles or objectives, act like a detective and listen in on peoples conversations to learn new ways to trick them, go through a slice of life coming of age story that has a happy and cheesy ending, it all just flows so well and doesn't need to be overly extensive. If anything , even besides this being a game I'd highly recommend to others, this game allows you to slip back into the yesteryear of our childhoods and appreciate what we had as a kid and makes me think, ''damn, we had a pretty rad time back then and boy, do I miss it''. so I will leave you with one parting message, besides my verdict of course being, BUY NOW,
''We used to be happy.. before we knew the future'' - Tommy Pickles