It must be very hard to make a game that is appallingly bad, let alone one that is incredibly good. One of the hardest things to do, or at least the thing I appreciate more and more, is the ability to make a 16-bit style game that feels and plays like our nostalgic stupid memories tell us games were like in the 90s. Freedom Planet, now out on pretty much everything, is a great example of this going very well.
Freedom Planet is so heavily inspired by Sonic it’s possible this game came from a fever dream the developers had after playing Sonic for one hundred hours straight. The game allows you to play as Lilac and Carol and later Milla, three incredibly colourful iconic looking characters that have their own skills and storylines that weave together. The plot revolves around a crystal being stolen by some evil space syndicate, as it is storing a dragon that created the world. They want to use it to destroy everything, and though your mission in this boils down to collecting things and killing robots, the voice acting and huge scenes of dialogue really make it feel like an actual story driven game. Each level takes me roughly fifteen minutes to complete and you can’t save mid-level, so be prepared to settle into your sofa, because as well as being very good, it is hard as balls.
The controls are slightly different for each character, Lilac being a more creative character for the style has a spin-double-jump attack called Cyclone. I know it’s called Cyclone because she screams that every third time I do it, but it’s less annoying than that sounds. Carol is much closer to a Sonic-style character, though she has a motorbike and a pretty awesome kung-fu kick that doesn’t stop her momentum when she’s tearing about as a green blur.
The music is amazing, very traditional, catchy and intense, though I find the voice acting is sometimes a bit phoned in, and the sound quality of one of the characters sounds like he has literally recorded it on his phone and sent it in. I am also impressed with the time attack being a collection of mini-games with each character, as it adds a nice little aside from the main game. A bit like when you get an onion ring in with your chips.
The game stands out with its level design which feels familiar and fresh, and the bosses that are tough as nails, but never feel insurmountable. Out’ve all the games I had never heard of that I played recently, this is my favourite. Its unapologetically old school, but with a lot of new ideas which make Freedom Planet very much a modern game in the style of the 16-bit era. My research into the already announced sequel reveals that Christian Whitehead, one of the geniuses behind Sonic Mania, has been called into the Freedom Planet offices to help them develop it. This can only be a good thing as there are a few moments in Freedom Planet that seem to be a bit untidy, and I have complete faith that Whitehead will be able to take an already outstanding game and turn it into a must own. Until then though this is a very satisfying platformer that really suits the Switch particularly.
Freedom Planet (Nintendo Switch)
Everyone always remembers how good they were at Sonic, and everyone is also lying to themselves. You were spraying rings all over the place mate. Just accept it.
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