Developer: GalaxyTrail Games
Publisher: GalaxyTrail Games
Review Context: I love playing platform games for the fun and escapism of society. No matter the art style, as long its plays well, I’m game. I discovered Freedom Planet during E3 when a special demo (Nindies@Home) was released for a limited time.
Date of Playthrough: January 11, 2016
What was supposed to be another Sonic the Hedgehog fan-made game, Galaxy Trail decided to take some elements of the franchise and create a new IP. While the game has been released on PC for a while, it made its long awaited debut on the Nintendo eShop in late last fall after a small delay. Has Galaxy Trail struck gold with this new idea, or should they risk making a game that Sega would shut down?
With the rise of indie games, many are quick to complain that most games use 8 to 16-bit visuals to capture people who remember playing those games in the late 80s early 90s. This game does a wonderful job of going for the retro 32-bit visuals. During the cutscenes the characters have different (cute) reactions to events that help with their personality. While playing the game, I would look to make sure I was playing on the Wii U and not the Sega Saturn. My thoughts cannot explain how well the details went into the visuals. From the different idol animations to when you go fast, the screen moves fast enough to see what’s ahead to prevent those cheap hits. It wasn’t till later that I noticed that the game includes black borders around the screen, as if you’re playing a retro game on an HDTV. These little details, to me, set the visuals apart from other retro indie titles.
Going back to the Sega style, the game uses a three button scheme; attack, jump, and special attack. Like most Wii U titles, this game supports multiple controllers, which includes Wii U Gamepad, Wii and Wii U Pro Controller, and Wiimote. I prefer playing with the underused Wii U Pro Controller. The only Gamepad feature is Off-TV play. The controls work well despite your preferred method. The most important factor in all platform games is the tight gameplay, since these genres of games require quick reactions. For the most part it works well, though there were moments when the jumping input was delayed. It’s a minor setback from a well done control scheme.
As explained earlier, the Wii U version didn’t have a smooth launch, as the game was unplayable till the game was patched. Even during my playthrough the game crashed on me. Being a single player experience the ride may be short, but like games of the past, replayability comes into play. The game does have a story that is easy to follow, but if you just want to play the game you can do that as well. Adventure mode has you playing the game with cutscenes explaining the story, while Classic mode has you playing the game without the cutscenes. This is a feature I feel should be added in most games since people are impatient.
However, you have to choose between playing the game as Lilac or Carol, among a hidden character. Once you beat the game with that character, you have to replay the game with the next one. By doing this in Adventure mode you get to see what happens to that character from her point of view. Not to mention, each character plays differently, allowing you to gain access to certain parts of levels you couldn’t reach with the previous character. While the game does borrow elements from early Sonic games, it does a good job of staying original. The biggest being that the game is about exploring rather than speed. As you explore you can unlock bonus content such as posters, music clips, and more.
Time Attack may have you think you’re replaying the main levels, but it doesn’t. These levels were made separately to see how quick you can collect items, but due to the lack of an online leaderboard, you won’t play this again once you complete all the tasks. It should be noted that as of this writing, DLC content has been added on the PC version for two addition characters. GalaxyTrail has stated they are trying their hardest to get it on Wii U. Despite this, I’m happy that they decided to create a new series out of this instead of another Sonic clone.
The game’s sound quality can also not be ignored. While the chiptunes get the job done for the level’s environment, the voice acting is well done. There were a few moments of overacting, but the main characters were done well. After playing the game for ten minutes I had to download the soundtrack. Thanks to the good voice acting on Lilac, Carol, and ‘the secret character,’ I can assume the voice actresses will reprise their roles in the recently announced sequel.
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