FreezeME – Wii U

FreezeME is a love letter to 3D platformers of old. Even if you didn’t know anything about the game before hand, the second you drop into the very first level a wave of Super Mario 64 nostalgia will hit you in a very soft spot. Trying to live up to the titan of the Nintendo 64 classic and others of that era and a task not to be taken lightly and it may surprise you that FreezeME was made by the grand total of one person. So does it live up to the classics? Well, not quite.

The story is very simplistic, which is fine, a game of this type doesn’t require anything deep. You are a young girl called R who’s dog has been kidnapped by the Fat the Cat who wants a dog free world. Chasing after your dog, R is transported in to one of the games four ‘worlds’. There’s not much of an introduction aside from being told to check the control scheme in the menus.

After that you’re free to do as you please in this first world. The main goal is to collect golden cubes that are scattered around the level. It can be a little overwhelming as to where to go next. Sure, the game shows you where the first cube outside of the tutorial is, but it gives you nothing about how to reach that floating platform in the sky. While, after exploring a little here and there you’ll eventually find your way, you can’t help but feel this lack of direction through-out the whole game. I personally found it more useful to just wander around and stumble across them rather than seeking out the one you targeted before entering the level.

There are 4 worlds in FreezeME that gradually unlock as you collect more and more golden cubes. The levels are absolutely huge, often overwhelmingly so. The first level will give you a “so where do I go now?” feel. They have lots of little things packed into them; small challenges, tasks and secrets. It seems every little part of the map has some purpose, no matter how small, which is rather commendable. The level designs are generally hit and miss. While some of the platform sections can be fun others can just be weirdly out place with odd positioning.

As hinted towards in the name of the game, R has a special camera that can freeze enemies in their tracks. You can use the control sticks to aim at what you want to freeze, but to be honest it’s so difficult to aim properly with it, you can use the gamepad touchscreen instead which works much better. This can be used to your advantage in a variety of puzzles and, as long as you remember it’s there, is really rather useful.

One of my main gripes with FreezeME is in its controls. Jumping feels awkward. You can do a double jump, wall jump and even do a leaping backflip. It really twitchy I often found myself doing actions I didn’t intend. If you combine this with the odd platforming challenges and an stubborn camera, it often lead to frustration, even very early on in the game.

For me, a 3D platformer lives and dies on three things. It’s controls, it’s camera and it’s level design. Unfortunately FreezeME just doesn’t succeed in any of these requirements. Although while I’ve criticised the game rather heavily up to this point, I do have a confession to make. The more I played FreezeME, the more I began to enjoy it. After playing for around half an hour for the “Quick Look” video on our YouTube channel, I’d already judged the game to be surprisingly terrible. I didn’t like it at all. All the complaints previously mentioned were too strong for me not to. But as I forced my way through the first handful of cubes on the first level and was introduced to the second and third levels, I began to rather enjoy my time with the game. I didn’t think it was great and maybe not even good, but at least decent. Thinking about it now I think it’s a combination of two reasons as to why my mind changed, at least a little.

The first is that I became used to the controls and camera. I began to learn its flaws, quirks and limitations enough to get by with as little frustration as possible. The second is that the first level is probably terrible. I say that with uncertainty, as I can’t quite put my finger on what makes it so unappealing. While I’m not saying the later stages are classics, they are much better than the first one. They are visually more appealing, have better direction and more thought out designs; just completely more enjoyable and interesting to play.

FreezeME has the heart of a good game in there, it just needs a little more polish and focused direction to bring it together. Sadly, as it stands the trifecta of controls, camera and level design still come across a little amateurish. Once you get past the first level and adjust to the ropey controls I think you’ll grow to appreciate FreezeME a little more than your initial impressions. It’s at that point it transforms from a disappointing game into a decent one. It could still do with a little more polish though.

Good points

– Lots of content

– Levels are filled with things to do

– Becomes better the more you play it

Bad points

– Leaves a bad first impression

– Awkward controls and camera

– Lack of direction

– Needs more polish

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