Review: Freedom Planet (Switch)

Gotta go free!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/07/2019 06:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great mix of gameplay from titles like Sonic the Hedgehog, Gunstar Heroes, and more; solid soundtrack and presentation; challenge is fair
Poison Mushroom for...
Some players might get tripped up by the bosses; uneven voice acting performances

Freedom Planet has had a rollicking roller coaster ride of a journey getting to Switch. The project began life, of all things, as a fan-made Sonic the Hedgehog project. Masterminded by designer Stephen DiDuro, Freedom Planet would have remained that way had he not decided partway through development to turn the game into something wholly original, instead. Forming the studio GalaxyTrail, DiDuro eventually pulled in outside help from other designers and went on to release Freedom Planet on Windows in 2014. Not content with the game only being on PC, DiDuro and company launched a Kickstarter that was successfully funded and, over time, Freedom Planet soon found its way onto multiple other platforms including Wii U.

Now Freedom Planet is finally on Switch, which is good news for anyone who might have missed out on the title before now. It’s lucky for fans that DiDuro decided to evolve the project from a Sonic the Hedgehog fan game into what it’s become. The Sonic connection in Freedom Planet is still prominent in the end product, but as the original Kickstarter announcement points out, there are also shades of Gunstar Heroes and Mega Man to be found here. Freedom Planet mixes up different mechanics like running and melee combat to great effect. There’s a lot of enemy variety on offer and there are a bunch of ways to battle them utilizing all the moves available. I’d argue that the combat here benefits greatly from its variety as it gives the player a lot of freedom to find a style that works for them.

Freedom Planet is set on the planet Avalice, where a delicate peace between three kingdoms is held together by the powerful Kingdom Stone. When the Kingdom Stone begins to weaken, however, the tenuous accord is broken and the trio of nations converge to take control of the stone. Sash Lilac, a dragon, Carol Tea, a wild cat, and Milla Basset, a basset hound, are the game’s three heroes who unite to stop the different kingdoms from engaging in a devastating world war while also figuring out the secret of the Kingdom Stone. It’s a surprisingly deep narrative, although its execution is spotty. Some of the voice acting works, other bits don’t, but overall the storyline is a fun addition.

For those not interested in the story, there are a couple of different modes to engage in that will allow players to limit how much of the narrative they’re exposed to in Freedom Planet. Classic Mode strings all of the stages together and removes the storyline, while Adventure Mode is where the stages are interspersed with cutscenes delivering all of the storyline. It’s also possible to skip past these bits of storyline in Adventure Mode, which is nice when having to replay segments. Time trials are there for the speedsters, so there’s a pleasing package of modes to engage with for just about everyone’s tastes.

Some have bemoaned Freedom Planet‘s bosses, predominantly because of a perceived spike in difficulty when fighting them compared to the garden variety baddies. I think this complaint is overblown. The bosses’ attack patterns are there to be learned; it’s simply a matter of being both attentive and persistent. Freedom Planet isn’t afraid to ask players to show some gumption and put in the work to win. Besides, even the hardest bosses aren’t so complex or challenging that anyone should be hurling a controller to the ground. I also found their designs to be very creative, which made fighting them even better.

This Switch version of Freedom Planet doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from what came before on Wii U, but then, it doesn’t have to. Many players didn’t get the chance to try this game out the first time around, so I encourage them now to give Freedom Planet a look. It’s a heartfelt love letter to the platformers of old, marrying some of the best bits of Sonic with so many other notable series. Freedom Planet is full of retro charm but isn’t held back by it, instead pushing forward with new ideas to stand on its own two legs. The eShop is full of winning software, but don’t let this one slip by under your nose!

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