So, you know how fans have complained for years and years about how the Sonic games have lacked a lot of what made them great back in the old Genesis days? And, you know, there’s a reason for that, and why 2D Sonic platformers nowadays, while I wouldn’t necessarily call them bad, have ultimately failed to capture that same feel: The people who developed the old Sega Genesis Sonic games don’t work at Sega anymore. It’s that simple. The developers at Sega don’t know how to make a Sonic the Hedgehog game that the hardcore fans (and, let’s face it, they are LEGION) have demanded for going-on-decades now. Mind you, I wasn’t among the fans that were complaining about the 3D Sonic games and begging for more 2D Sonic games… … …Then we had atrocities like Sonic The Hedgehog for the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3, we saw Sonic The Hedgehog 4 ultimately disappoint, and now we’ve got the Sonic Boom spin-off series that seems to have finally caused the fanbase to go completely insane, and at that point, even I couldn’t, in sound mind and judgment, like where the franchise was going. And if Sega can’t give us good Sonic games, we’re just gonna have to look elsewhere. The only problem is, where are we ever going to find a good Sonic-esque game being made nowa-
… … …HO. LY. SHIT! XD
Okay, real talk, I’ve actually been following Freedom Planet for some time now, ever since Liam and Woolie did a Let’s Play of the game a few months ago (so, thank you, Super Best Friends, for introducing me to this game), but I wanted to hold off on giving my opinions on it until I’d sat down and played it. As such, I had to wait until it was available on Wii U, which only happened the other day when I wasn’t paying attention. 😛 Also, despite the fact that it was originally thought up by the creators, GalaxyTrail, as a Sonic fan-game, it’s not EXACTLY the same. A number of people have brought up how the game looks and feels like if the video game developers, Treasure (developers of such games as Gunstar Heroes, Wario World, Mischief Makers, and Sin & Punishment), had obtained the rights to Sonic and made a game for the series. As such, it comes off both as a tribute to the Genesis Sonic games and a lot of other 2D platformers of that time trying to cash in on Sonic’s popularity, while also having its own unique identity.
The story of the game (which, FYI, you can pass over all of the cutscenes by playing the game in Classic Mode as opposed to Story Mode) stars Sash Lilac, a water dragon, and Carol Tea, a wildcat, as they find themselves in the middle of a conflict with an intergalactic warlord named Arktivus Brevon. Brevon, having crash-landed on their planet, seeks to leave by using the power of an ancient artifact called the Kingdom Stone. However, the Kingdom Stone is the world’s primary source of energy, and to obtain it, he sets a series of events into motion to force the three major nations of the world into conflict so that he can take the stone in the confusion. I won’t spoil the entire story, and a lot of the details can seem a bit glanced over at times, but let’s just say that a lot of the story focuses on trying to get the three nations to work together to stop Brevon, and on the friendship of the main characters.
One thing I think this game does smartly is that it introduces the idea of multiple playable characters with radically different styles of gameplay right away, and doesn’t have a single character get top billing. Sure, one can make the argument that Lilac is the main protagonist, since a lot of the story’s more epic moments occur around her (and, in early development, she was a hedgehog…and it shows, lol), but Carol is most definitely not left out of the fun. Let’s be honest: A big part of the reason people complain about other playable characters in the Sonic games is because the game is called Sonic The Hedgehog. It’s got nothing to do with if these characters are good or not (and, a lot of times, I actually rather like the side-characters in Sonic), or if they add anything fun or unique to the gameplay, it’s about how the game is supposed to be about Sonic. Here, we don’t have that problem. Lilac, even if she IS the main protagonist, does not do everything herself. Even when playing as her, there are points in the game where her friends will pop in to lend a hand, such as during a running boss fight where Carol rides her motorcycle (which is badass, btw) and does occasional attacks to the boss while your other friends drop items.
As for the gameplay itself, like I said, Lilac mostly plays like Sonic, but with other abilities tacked on, although these abilities are oftentimes required to survive. Her Dragon Boost allows her to rocket through the air in different directions, and she can use her hair to whip enemies and do a spinning double jump. Carol can scratch and pounce on foes, do wall jumps, and kick at lightning speed. The last playable character (and only in Classic Mode), Milla Basset, can do flutter jumps, dig through the dirt, pick up items, and produce energy fields that form shields, lasers, and blocks. I’ve heard that they plan to add more playable characters later on, but for now, these three are all cool, despite the lack of a Milla campaign taking place in the actual Story Mode. There’s also different difficulty levels: Casual, Easy, Normal, and Hard. Naturally, because I kinda suck at the old school Sonic games, I opted to go with Casual, just to start myself off. And frankly, I like that there’s a Casual Mode for guys like me to start off with and gradually grow in skill.
So yeah, if you’ve been missing games like the classic Sonic The Hedgehog games, Rocket Knight Adventures, Ristar, and so on, go and get Freedom Planet. It’s currently available on Wii U and Steam for less than 20 bucks, so as long as you have the means to pay for it, there’s no reason you can’t get it. And hey, when you do, feel free to come back here and lemme know what you thought of the game. Also, be sure to check out the designer of the main protagonists, Ziyo Ling, and her work. Ja né!