Freedom Planet (Switch) Review

Super Sonic Freedom Fighters

Freedom Planet began life as a Sonic the Hedgehog fangame, and it’s not hard to believe given the core concept: a fast-paced 2D sidescroller starring animals. Looking past the surface, there’s more to this pixelated platformer than meets the eye, and it manages to hearken back to Sega’s classic series while sporting its own identity.

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!

There are two modes: classic, which is a basic runthrough of every level, and adventure, which hosts the main story. The plot involves three anthropomorphic protagonists assisting a ducklike creature to find a mystical stone and quell a war between nations. It’s an interesting story, though not necessarily worth sitting through lengthy cutscenes to experience.

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Let’s rev it up!

Nevertheless, I appreciated the full voice acting and enchanting world. For that matter, the vibrant Sega Genesis-like pixel art looks dazzling, for both the expressive characters and gorgeous backgrounds. I was impressed that the performance never let up, even with tons of enemies on the screen. Likewise, the electronic and catchy soundtrack captivated my ears, and I longed to continue listening after every play session.

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But there’s a panda in this game! PANDA!

You blaze through colorful levels as one of three characters: the water dragon Lilac, the wildcat Carol, and the basset hound Milla. Although the Sonic comparisons are easy to make, developer GalaxyTrail’s game focuses on consistent momentum over raw speed. Freedom Planet’s trio runs at a brisk stride, but they aren’t so overwhelmingly fast that you can’t tell where you’re going. There is enough breathing room even when you’re rushing down slopes, rolling around loop-de-loops, and bouncing off springs. Dynamic elements such as moving aircrafts, Ferris wheels, and dandelion seeds are sprinkled throughout the large multipath levels and all lend a continuous swiftness. In some cases, the game actively slowed me down with light puzzles and platform challenges. Despite the abrupt change in speed, I appreciated the tight level design.

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It’s a bird. It’s a hedgehog. No, it’s Lilac the dragon!

Freedom Planet keeps its focus on solid platforming and combat, just on a faster pace than most sidescrollers. Even if you do bump into something and halt to a stop, the girls’ movesets each have means to regain that momentum instantly or reach higher ground. Lilac can charge up a sonic burst of speed to fly in any direction. As long as she has energy in her gauge, she continues to blast off, bouncing off any walls. Meanwhile, Carol can glide like Knuckles, and her skill to jump dash up walls allows her to quickly scale any height provided the proper footing. She even has a motorcycle that can somehow drive up walls and spin around effortlessly, which helps her gain immediate traction. Then, there’s Milla, with the ability to temporarily hover upwards, turning her into a cross between Tails and Yoshi. The responsive controls empowered me to keep up my pace, no matter the character.

The combat is surprisingly well-handled for such a rapid game. For one, each character has a moveset built for battle. Lilac’s midair helicopter kicks, Carol’s fast fisticuffs, and Milla’s chargeable magic spells allow them to strike hard while moving. Their attacks are so intense that the game resembles a beat-em-up at times. Although stopping to fight encroaches on the game’s momentum, the fluid fighting compensates for it. The versatile movesets also help against bosses, which are genuinely difficult to face, even after you figure out their patterns and weak spots. On a related note, since you can pass through enemies while running, they’re less likely to disrupt your pace. Additionally, instead of immediately losing most of your health when you get hit, Freedom Planet uses a more traditional life bar, eliminating the likelihood of sudden deaths.

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Green Hadoukens? Now we’re talking!

With only about a dozen levels, it’s not a long game. But to its credit, the levels are fairly meaty, many lasting over ten minutes on a first-time playthrough. Plus, there are achievements and hidden collectibles, most of which unveil images and music in the gallery. Some of them require specific abilities, so you’ll have to play with everyone for completion. I didn’t mind since beating the game with each character essentially tripled the playtime. Not only do they control distinctly from each other, they also go through slightly different levels during their campaigns. That being said, if I had it my way, all three of them would experience completely different stages and journeys, but alas.

The game is built for speedrunning, and Time Attack is there for hardcore players. There’s also a target attack minigame, similar to the Break the Targets challenges in Super Smash Bros., but I didn’t find it to be a fulfilling diversion. Although there isn’t anything special about the Nintendo Switch edition aside from including content from other current versions of the game, the portable hybrid is a perfect home for the digestible levels.

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The bosses are difficult, but satisfying.

Conclusion

Freedom Planet’s solid level design, clever movesets, and well-executed combat mechanics all come together to achieve a balanced flow, placing a focus on platforming and combat over raw speed. Most importantly, the game keeps a consistent pace, so the faster automatic segments are exhilarating and the slower sections don’t feel like a massive downgrade. Freedom Planet may resemble Sonic, but it’s a loving tribute that puts its own spin on the classic Sega franchise.

Score: 9/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was written on DarkStation.

What do you think of Freedom Planet? Are you a fan? Do you prefer the Sonic series? What are your favorite 16-bit or retro-style platformers? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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14 thoughts on “Freedom Planet (Switch) Review

  1. Awesome review! Freedom Planet looks so much like Sonic. I definitely see how it’s love letter to Sonic–from 3 new girlfriends! 😛 Seriously, though, I like the character designs, especially the dragon. I like crystally water dragon. 😉 I also love the Chinese looking level. There’s even a panda! PAANDAAAAA!!.Everyone seems so cute and fluffy! P.S. A wildcat riding a motorcycle? What’ll they think of next? Card games on motorcycles?! Let’s rev it up!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks as always for all your support and encouragement throughout this crazy week! I also really enjoyed Freedom Planet’s graphics and character designs. Lilac in particular is a strong heroine, but I also like Carol’s motorcycle, and was only mildly disappointed she didn’t also play card games while driving up walls and spinning wildly. 😆 As funny as the idea of Sonic having 3 new girlfriends is, I feel Amy Rose would have a fit haha! Plus, if there was such an alternate relationship canon for the Freedom Planer fighters, I think they’d also go for Tails and Knuckles too haha! Glad you caught the PANDAAAA! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Matt! That means a lot to me man! Freedom Planet is one of those special gems where you see what the creators were going for (a game like Sonic the Hedgehog), but they executed it so well that it feels just as worthy as the classic series. In a way, it reminds me of Sonic Mania, which is almost like an official fangame for the franchise. It was so much better than people could have expected from a game not developed by the core Sonic Team!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha yeah! I’m just glad that at least one of those games actually has Sonic’s likeness in it, so he’s not completely regarded as a “washed up” mascot. Sega was wise to get Christian Whitehead to do Sonic Mania. It revitalized the franchise before Sonic Forces nearly ruined it again hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks wonderfully retro! And I love that castle level! It’s cool that they throw in puzzles from time to time to keep things interesting. I agree that it would have been interesting to give each character their own unique levels ala Sonic. Oh well. (Sings.) Live and Learn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Freedom Planet is indeed a very quality retro title! It’s a very nostalgic visual style that emulates my internal vision of what Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games look like in my head haha. By castle level, do you mean that level that resembles China streets? Because I love that stage! Also, the puzzles aren’t super complicated or time consuming, but those as well as the platforming challenges and combat segments keep things from going on auto-pilot, plus they’re still fairly fast-paced compared to other platformers. Yeah, more exclusive levels would have been nice. Then we’d be one step closer to Sonic Adventure, where everyone has their own special story filled with (not) useless sections like fishing for frogs or searching for items while a rap song plays in the background. Hmm, actually, maybe I’m fine with this. Freedom Planet’s girls may be retro but they’re truly living on the edge of tomorrow. Thanks so much for your support man!

      Like

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