Freedom Planet (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 31.08.2018

Review for Freedom Planet on Nintendo Switch

What began as a fan-game, as a love letter to the old-school Sonic titles, has come an awful long way. Creator Stephen Diduro took his fledgling project, recruited himself a new sprite artist and gave it a whole new lease of life. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game received its full release on Steam back in 2014, Cubed3 reviewed the Wii U edition in 2017, and now with the development of Freedom Planet 2 hotly underway, the Nintendo Switch is getting a new port of the original.

From the title menu, there are three modes to fire into. There's an Adventure mode, which blends story in with the stages, a Classic mode that gives the stages in the same manner as its inspiration, free of the tacked on story scenes, and a Time Attack mode that fits with the speed-running nature of the game. The Classic mode is the star of the show here. The story throughout Adventure is humdrum, with some terrible writing. Instead, it's best to let the game shine where it counts: in the gameplay. There are two protagonists to play through with that would seem very much at home besides Charmy and Espio, or Rouge and Cream.

Screenshot for Freedom Planet on Nintendo Switch

Ah yes, time to address the anthropomorphic elephant in the room. There is a big fandom in a dark corner of the Internet, a place where Gantt charts of strange, furry, Sonic, and DeviantArt overlap. Freedom Planet feels like a glimpse into that world, the style, the writing, the designs, and the characters. The problem with this is that much of it still feels like a fan-game… but only in its art, design, and presentation. The gameplay is a whole different animal, but more on that later. Back to the characters… Lilac was a Hedgehog originally but her design changed to a "Dragon;" this mostly means a purple, female Sonic with two long tufts of hair. Carol is a Wildcat, like a green, female Miles Tails Power and, finally, Milla the Basset Hound is somewhere between Amy and Cream - each with their own play-style and special abilities.

Lilac feels like she was originally Sonic. She has a slight double jump and her special ability has her spin on the spot and then launch off at high speed. Although this special lets her also launch herself into the air, not just across the ground, should she hit a wall like this, she bounces off; charging up and aiming just right sends her ricocheting into little, hidden areas. Carol was likely the Knuckles character, with the ability to kind of glide, and to hang onto walls, allowing a wall jump if done quickly enough. Her special attack is a like a Lightning Kick from Chun Li, however, her real draw is when she stumbles onto a red can of gas Carol summons a speedy motorcycle that plays like the bikes in the old Alex the Kidd titles.

Screenshot for Freedom Planet on Nintendo Switch

Milla plays unlike anything that has come in a Sonic title before; her whole character is based around her ability to conjure some sort of green jelly. It can be turned into a shield to block attacks or a block to be thrown. When the shield is dispelled, an attack fires out. She can also fly… somewhat…. flapping her big floppy ears and wiggling her arms with some charming animations.

The characters all looking like everyday residents of Mobius isn't the only part that still feels like a fan-game. Every element feels like a Mega Drive-era Sonic. Where it does break away, it gives some individuality to the universe. Instead of golden rings being a replacement for a health system, now there's an actual health bar, recoverable by finding red leaf gems. There are also a huge amount of blue gems scattered across the stages, with a countdown ticking down as each is collected. Once 200 have ticked down to 0, an extra life is added. The special moves of each character use a special meter, which refills all on its own. There are also extra elements, like power-ups to unlock and little collectibles and achievements that extend the lifespan significantly.

Screenshot for Freedom Planet on Nintendo Switch

Down to the important stuff; the gameplay: all of the best elements of Sonic that made kids argue with their friends over how it was better than Mario are here - in spades. All of the elements that Nintendo has been completely out of touch with. The levels are made up of short stages that can be sped through, zipping from left to right, running around loop de loops, speeding through half pipes, dashing to the end of the stage where more often than not a big beasty boss is waiting… but, "Gotta go fast" isn't all this has to offer. The slower paced characters and the collectibles invite an element of exploration, to slow down and smell the spritely roses, giving a chance to really show off the rich stages.

Screenshot for Freedom Planet on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's not a Sonic game, and yet, it's one of the best Sonic games in years. It takes all of the best elements of the 16-bit series and mixes in other classics like Rocket Knight and Ristar, amongst numerous others, to craft a great new IP. It may be derivative right now, but it has the strength and the potential to be so much more. What little flaws there are, are down to the inexperience and budget of the team, something that makes the upcoming sequel very exciting. Imagine what can be offered now. This new release on Switch gives another platform of players the opportunity to see what it has to offer and reminds those who experienced it the first time why Freedom Planet 2 should be on their radar.

Developer

Galaxy Trail

Publisher

Marvelous

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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