What started out as a Sonic the Hedgehog fan game, GalaxyTrail Games wisely decided to revamp their plans to create an original adventure. Freedom Planet takes place in a fantasy world called Avalice where everyone lived in peace until the Kingdom Stone is absconded by an intergalactic warlord named Brevon who plans to use its energy to conquer the universe. As the kingdoms in Avalice fall into disarray, it's up to a quartet of anthropomorphic heroes to prevent a war between the kingdoms and recover the Kingdom Stone.
While Freedom Planet looks a lot like Sonic, it plays more like the old Treasure games like Dynamite Headdy and Gunstar Heroes. Freedom Planet contains fast action, frantic bosses, melee combat and even a shoot 'em up stage. There are three playable characters in the game: Lilac, a purple dragon who loves to go fast, Carol, a wildcat with a love for motorbikes and other vehicles, and Milla, an orphaned puppy whose ears can flap and give her jumps a short boost in the air.
Accompanying the three heroines is a strange creature named Torque who is involved with the whole mess that is happening in Avalice. Playing as either Lilac or Carol (Milla is unlocked as you play through the story), you zip through nine levels of beautiful scenery accompanied with devious traps, a mess of enemies to fight and a peppy musical score.
Each character plays differently and they all have their own take on the main story, so Freedom Planet has an incentive for multiple playthroughs. You can also play time attack mode and see how fast you can clear each stage. Lilac plays kind of like Sonic, where speed is the name of the game. But unlike Sonic, she cannot perform a spindash nor can she defeat enemies by jumping on them. Instead, she uses a charged dash and she also has a few melee moves. Carol uses a motorcycle for speed when she collects gas cans and she also uses her claws for fighting. Milla can hover using her large floppy ears and she can also shoot charged projectiles.
Survival is easy, with each player collecting life petals to replenish health, finding large gemstones to activate shields and collecting blue crystals to earn extra lives. Collecting orbs will be useful for the bonus stage if the player finds a yin-yang icon in the stage. The orbs will be used to pay for a chance to roll a die and win a prize like shields or extra lives. The more orbs, the more chances you can roll the die. It's easy to score extra lives but you will need them because the boss battles are quite tough.
My biggest issue with Freedom Planet is the pacing. Each stage takes around 10-20 minutes to finish and while they can be speedrun, the average time spent in each stage is longer than most platformers. It is a short game, so the padding is understandable. But this issue is more pronounced when you're playing through the story mode. The cutscenes run for several minutes and the voice acting is charming if not imperfect. Luckily you can skip those cutscenes if you're trying to replay a level, or just play Classic mode, where you just play each level in order minus the story. Still, the stage length isn't ideal when you're playing on a handheld system like the Switch.
Still, despite some pacing issues, it's a good game that'll scratch that nostalgic itch for Sonic and other old school games.
by Ray n.
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