TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Brandon (Michael) Howard 13.07.2018

Review for TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom on Nintendo Switch

TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom looks very pretty on the surface. It's got charming, candy-coloured visuals, a huge variety of levels, and seems like a perfect fit for the Switch - a console that's quickly become a fantastic home for indie titles of all sorts. TurtlePop seems like the perfect family game, but it hides beneath it's cheery surface a complicated mess of systems that muddle the whole experience.

At first glance, TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom seems pretty innocent. It looks like a bright, cheerful platformer with some light puzzle elements, and that's promising for a Switch title. Just under that sunny exterior, though, there's a whole storm of convoluted mechanics that put a significant damper on the experience.

The main objective in each stage is to rescue the turtles strewn about it, and manoeuvre them to the goal at the end of it. To that end, the player has access to a whole slew of items carried by a courier who can be brought in with the ZR button to place down bombs, power-ups, and more. Generally, these items are used for empowering turtles to reach greater heights through enhanced jumps, clear various puzzles, or to restore the health of turtles that have been damaged by stage hazards.

The problem is the massive disconnect between the two styles of gameplay. The platforming sections want the player to gather up turtles and keep them together as they traverse the stage. However, switch to the genie control mode, and they will all start wandering off instead. It's incredibly hard to micromanage the various turtles being rescued, while simultaneously carefully positioning bombs to clear out the path.

Screenshot for TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom on Nintendo Switch

It starts off feeling like a minor inconvenience but becomes downright impossible to deal with as the game incorporates trickier stage hazards and auto-scrolling sections. The mechanics are okay when kept separate, but the pacing of the game forces them to work in tandem, and that's when they really start to fall apart.

On top of that, there's a card-based upgrade system, because that's exactly what this title needed: another thing to micromanage between levels. The upgrades require various amounts of pearls and suns obtained in each level, but also require specific cards earned through challenges or chests. The upgrades are basic enough that they very easily could have been progression-based instead of unlockable through the upgrade system, so it just feels like needless complexity.

The co-op mode does make the experience significantly more enjoyable, but it might just end up making two people frustrated instead of one. It is a lot easier to manage everything that's happening with two players working on a solution, but it's still an extremely messy experience. It's definitely the best way to derive enjoyment from this title, but it's still a lot of work.

The biggest frustration with TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom is that it feels like all the content is there. There are tons of stages, with tons of content to explore - it's just absolutely exhausting to play. Stages are wildly inconsistent in their duration, and the mechanical complexity is all over the place, with some stages ending in under a minute and others taking upwards of five. The pacing is also all over the place, and the gameplay's frantic nature reinforces that in the worst way possible way.

Screenshot for TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


Despite all its exterior polish, TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom is a bit of a mess. It's trying to pull elements from multiple different genres, but it does it in a chaotic way that leaves the player little time to process what's happening on-screen. It's a constant battle with the controls to switch between the various turtles you need to control, and to also manage the genie, all while various on-screen hazards endanger the player's shot at a perfect score. The co-op mode slightly alleviates some of these issues, but it doesn't do enough to fix the fundamental issues with this quirky puzzle-platformer.


Zengami Pte


DigiPen Game Studios


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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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