Almost a year ago, I played the demo of Freedom Planet which was released with a million other Wii U demos as part of Nintendo’s E3 stuff. This is what I had to say about it then:
What looks like Sonic and sounds like Sonic but is terrible (like Sonic is now, I suppose)? Freedom Planet! Awful animation, screen juddering everywhere and all hopes and dreams of a possibly good Sonic game (even though it isn’t Sonic) up in smoke. Boo.
Numerous people have told me since that these animation and juddering issues aren’t in the PC version, and in fact, when the Wii U version came out, finally, I was told they’d gone there too.
The screen still jerks around like the camera isn’t sure where it’s supposed to be. The animation is excellent in cutscenes and set pieces, but when you run round loops and up hills, the animation is really quite terrible – the sprite is rotated instead of redrawn, and it literally just looks like the sprite is being rotated. The physics are all wrong, and you’re able to run up vertical slopes (and upside down) without needing much momentum. The controls are unresponsive, especially the “dash” button which caused me to die numerous times as it didn’t activate. And yes, I did have enough power to do it.
It rips off Sonic so much, even though your main character Lilac is not really much like Sonic at all. Many of the levels are similar – there’s a Lava Reef Clone, an Aquatic Ruin Clone, a Death Egg Clone, a Flying Battery Clone – and there’s even a bit with what are remarkably similar to Chaos Emeralds. You loop like Sonic, there are springs and bumpers like in Sonic games, the music could easily have come from a Sonic game and the power-up “bubbles” are effectively clones of Sonic 3’s. One of them even sucks in rings-er-gems when you go near them. Marble Garden’s spinners are here too, and many of the enemies could well be lifted from various Sonic titles as well. The extra life sound effect is eerily familiar.
But. And this is a huge but. I really rather enjoyed it. Once you see past the Sonic bits, you realise that it a more than decent game in its own right. The levels are gorgeous and huge, and some aren’t Sonic-like – such as the shopping centre. The bosses too are pretty impressive, with normal character fights and massive several-screens-wide dragons and things. There’s a proper story too, which you have the option of completely skipping (I didn’t, as I thought it might separate it from Sonic a bit more – it does), with some mixed success voice acting and humour.
It was a pretty easy game overall, with almost all my lives lost on bosses, most of my deaths coming on the final boss, and most of them lost on the final boss’ final form. I’m pretty sure now I know how to defeat the bosses I’d be able to complete it on a single credit, so it isn’t too difficult.
I can’t completely commend Freedom Planet, as the animation and jerkiness does detract a little and the unresponsive controls are a crime, but I paid just over a pound for it, and it’s definitely worth more than that. I’m glad I gave it a chance as it surprised me, and if I’d just left it at the demo I’d never have realised there was a decent game there. Stupid demo.