Publisher: Marvelous (XSEED)
Release Date: 30 August 2018
Price: $14.99 / £12.99
Freedom Planet is a fast paced Sonic-like platformer that’s sped its way across multiple platforms before arriving at the Nintendo Switch. And when I say Sonic-like, I really mean it. From it’s 1990’s 16 bit visuals, to the gripping loop-de-loops, Freedom Planet shares more than a little bit of level design with its speedy blue counterpart.
You Talkin’ To Me?
What sets the game apart from most retro inspired games though is the top notch voice acting that brings the impressive variety of characters to life. Unfortunately the overall story is way too drawn out in length and just didn’t grip me the way I thought it would, featuring several anime tropes of the kind we’ve seen a thousand times before. I do however give it merit for the chemistry between the main characters who often have a bit of a goofy side to them as well.
Freedom Planet gives you the, err, freedom, to start the game in “classic” mode though, omitting all story and focusing purely on the levels. This is a feature I welcomed with open arms, especially when playing through with a different character. There’s no need to sit through all the story stuff multiple times.
Each of the playable characters control differently, from Lilac with her “boost” powers to Carol who can cling to walls and even jump aboard her motorbike. The overall gameplay is great and by and large the levels are designed rather well. The action does come grinding to a halt with some pacing issues every once in a while though. For example, although Lilac is blindingly fast, she very rarely had a straight run before frustratingly being stopped dead in her tracks by a solid wall.
Combat is where Freedom Planet deviates from the approach of a certain hedgehog. Rather than bouncing on an enemies head or spinning through them, the game goes for a far more direct approach, with an action button allowing your characters to punch or kick your way through any baddies. Similarly, merely touching an enemy won’t do you any harm - they’ll only inflict damage when executing an attack. It’s an interesting and welcome variation on combat to Freedom Planet’s most prominent muse.
Stages are a little on the long side, taking anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to complete, and while split into sections with sub bosses in the middle and a boss at the end, they do get a little tiresome. I’d much rather each level have been broken up into sections - zones or acts if you will - that are more bit sized and easier to digest.
Speaking of boss fights, each one is inventive in the way that you attack them, and they all have a great and unique design. Some of them just feel unfair at times though and randomly spike in difficulty, once again breaking the flow of the game. As for settings, there’s some unique and varied locations where the levels take place, from shopping malls to airships, each one comes with it’s own flair and mechanics that makes each of them stand out from the pack.
Music and sound effects are also pretty good, and while you won’t be whistling any of the songs afterwards, they are instantly charming and fit the aesthetic of the game perfectly. Similarly, all the other effects are fittingly retro, from chimes of crystals to charging boost noises, with each one hitting a clear and satisfying nostalgic note.
Overall, Freedom Planet is a competent platformer in its own right, but pacing issues and difficulty spikes stop it from being truly amazing. That said, fans of Sega Genesis games and early 90s platformers will enjoy its nostalgia-inducing stages, and there's plenty the game has to offer, with multiple characters and unlockables to find along the way.
Pros & Cons
+ Controls great
+ Multiple characters
+ Voice acting
- Long Levels
- Pacing issues
- Lengthy cut scenes