When GalaxyTrail’s 16-bit inspired platformer Freedom Planet went live on Steam in 2014, I was ecstatic. At that time, there was an abundance of NES inspired games saturating the indie market, but not enough games catering to folks who grew up with the “SEGA!” scream and fuzzy animal mascots. Although it may look like a Sonic clone, at first sight, Freedom Planet is just as much of a homage to the blue blur and the characters inspired by him as it is the now-defunct Treasure’s cult classics such as Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy. While I normally don’t care to seek out Limited Run Games'(LRG) physical copies on account of scalpers jacking up the prices, I’m glad to say I now have one of my favorite indie games of the past decade on my shelf (and for a reasonable price).
Inside the case, there’s this ancient relic known as an instructional booklet. You know…what games normally had inside besides the cartridge/disc. Personally, this thing hit all the right notes with me as someone who has fond memories of reading manuals on the ride home from Funcoland as a grade-schooler.
There’s a lovely letter from the developer reminiscing the day the game went live, full character descriptions, a bestiary of sorts and even a teaser for the game’s sequel (which is still in development). Heck, there’s even a notes section…a common practice with 90’s video game booklets.
The game itself, as mentioned earlier, is an action platformer that borrows from some of the Sega Genesis’ finest. The character design, plot and some aspects of the level design borrow from the classic Sonic trilogy’s blueprints. You’re able to play as three distinct characters with a distinct storyline and unique paths through each stage (similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles). Lilac (voiced by Dawn M. Bennett) can zip around using her spin move and has an easy-to-learn moveset, making her the ideal choice for a first playthrough. Carol (Andi Lott) can scale walls and plow through enemies with a motorcycle but does not have the long-range attacks of her dragon friend. Milla (Aimee Smith) is unlocked after enough progress has been made as either Lilac or Carol. Her flappy ears allow her to do a sort of flutter jump akin to that of a certain green dinosaur, and while her life bar is significantly smaller, she does have the ability to block and parry attacks with a green shield.
The stages themselves are more combat-oriented, helping differentiate the game from the speed and platforming commonly associated the Sega’s iconic franchise. You’ll be fighting an onslaught of unique mechs and aliens throughout the dozen or so courses on your way to saving the fictional world of Avalice. There’s also a greater emphasis on bosses, giving the game those aforementioned Gunstar Heroes vibes. In sum, if you have any nostalgia for the early 90’s era of platformers and action games- you’re probably going to love this game just as much as I do.
Fortunately, it’s still quite easy to obtain this limited physical release. There are Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch versions available at Best Buy in small quantities for $29.99. Additionally, the eBay prices are surprisingly sane unless you’re looking for the deluxe version. While I wish it didn’t take nearly as long for physical copies of this game to pop up, I’m glad I finally have something to display in my setup. Additionally, you can opt to just get the game digitally for $14.99 on PC, PS4, and Switch.