Home HOT A review of The Big Con – a thrilling escapade of a hustler from the 90s

A review of The Big Con – a thrilling escapade of a hustler from the 90s

A review of The Big Con – a thrilling escapade of a hustler from the 90s

When 2019 finally came, I was really irritated. Actually, ever since then, I’ve been irritated. Not that I’m the most knowledgeable K-pop fan by any means, but when I heard the 90s throwback song “Ring Ring Ring” by then-new boy band Verivery, I could see their appeal right away. I was brought back to my childhood by the vivid colors, haphazard forms, and yo-yos. Though sadly not many have joined me on the trip back in time to the days of California Dreams and The Battle of Seattle, I have no doubt that many more will make the leap to the same enchanted age as depicted in The Big Con.

You take on the role of Ali, a 17-year-old who is stranded in the video rental shop helping her mother (sorry, “mom”). In the days before internet-based streaming and downloading, movies were either purchased or rented on large, plastic video cassettes that resembled books. Data is stored on a roll of thin magnetic tape called a cassette. They were quite annoying. Heave heave. Unfortunately, your mother is sending you off to band camp for a fortnight so you may fulfill her dreams of becoming a well-known trombone, while all of your friends and classmates are preoccupied with much more exciting summer activities.

Sadly, just as you’re about to leave, you hear your mother talking to loan sharks who are desperate to get their money back or else Linda’s video store would have to close. By the time Ali gets back from music camp, she is so depressed about what the future could bring, even with the motherly promises.

Ted is a swindler who is killing time in town before he goes on to his next con. You encounter him when you’re lingering around the area of the closed-down ice cream shop. This might be the answer to all of your issues: a fast method to get money without going through band camp.

Pickpocketing random people of the public with a one-button quick-time event—which, fortunately, you can disable—is how you start. Ted, however, has his sights set on even greater gains. He suggests that in order to hustle for ever-larger sums of money, you should watch people, listen in on conversations, and wear various disguises (such false beards and moustaches). Given that so many people were compelled to carry cash in the 1990s as opposed to the convenience of contactless card payments in the present, the premise of the tale and gameplay works nicely together. The straightforward gameplay is effective: you go around various settings, robbing the careless of their money, listening in on their chats, and trying to find new methods to hustle. Taking a pair of sunglasses and selling them to a passenger seated at the train’s window is one example.

Ted takes you to the local mall after your first day together, where you continue honing these talents after you just lied to your mother. Before long, you’ll find yourself at Las Venganza, a map with movie theaters, lodging options, a thrift store, coffee cafes, and a used vehicle dealership. There are a variety of people and things to see there that are both connected to and unconnected to your primary responsibilities. You could even be able to pay off your loan from the video shop there. Additionally, there’s the companion ghost who resembles Earl (think ToeJam & Earl) who is willing to provide advice if you ever get into trouble. However, you quickly learn that attempting to con people out of their hard-earned, hard-saved money puts you in grave danger.

The Big Con’s lighthearted, vibrant aesthetics will undoubtedly pull in crowds. It’s what drew me in with an E3 trailer the previous year. Coincidentally, I had just looked at Disney+ for the first time before being given this article (spoiler alert: it’s just nostalgic and nostalgia-based junk?) merely to watch the beloved animation series Doug. Without a certain, the artwork is evocative of that time period, and physically, Ali reminded me of the fictitious figure Alex Mack from the 1990s. It’s amazing to look at the animation and visuals.

However, there are other reasons why the game succeeds beyond its captivating family-centered plot, which is reminiscent of 90s drama series and adolescent comedies. It also somehow conveys the (mature-rated) flicks of Richard Linkalter and Kevin Smith’s lethargic attitude of irony and unarrogant assurance that was so prophetic in the mainstream culture zeitgeist. I believe it’s because so many of them, such as Clerks, have intriguing protagonists who accidentally end up in settings and situations with intriguing and unique supporting casts.

Actually, The Big Con pays you for striking up discussions and interacting with as many people as you can—regardless of whether those folks have green or blue skin, insist on dressing like Jamiroquai, or seem to have stepped out of a Gabor Csupo cartoon like Rugrats. To add to the whole tongue-in-cheek vibe, the creators are also conscious of the allusions they’re using, both active and passive. One has an identical replica of The Rock (unfortunately, “Dwayne Johnson” did not exist in the 1990s), right down to the gold chain and fanny pack.

There are more decade-related inspirations to see. The pause screen appears with fake CRT-like scan lines, and the opening theme tune sounds a lot like a Plumtree or Letters to Cleo song. The folks at Digital Foundry would undoubtedly have a better understanding of these’s correctness.

The Big Con succeeds in spite of the abundance of fanny packs, and Ali is the key to it. She’s a confused girl who makes plans in her bedroom in the same manner that Kenan & Kel would get into trouble. She wants to do the right thing in the end, even if it means going down many wrong paths along the way. The game is applicable to many kids (or even adults!) who have felt lost about life, experienced FOMO, and want to do all in their power to make things make sense again. The teenage angst is brilliantly blended with grumpiness and snarkiness in equal proportion. The Big Con is a charming excursion that is well worth going on.


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