Review: Freakyforms is joyous, crazy and addictive

Freakyforms is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played. That recommendation comes with a warning, however, for my tastes often veer far from mainstream gaming. This is a plotless, easygoing game that’s all about creating and collecting. It’s got a relaxed, happy Animal Crossing vibe and your time with Freakyforms will be evenly split between the amazing creation tools and racing around the platform overworld, trying to accumulate as much loot as possible before the clock runs down.

The game is an endless cycle of creating, playing a timed round, counting your loot, getting new stuff, creating, etc. In classic Nintendo fashion, a potentially dull and repetitive concept emerges as well-paced and hilarious.

My first impressions remain in place, and the only thing that’s changed from those first hours is pure astonishment at how much content is stuffed into this $6.99 eShop download. Ten hours in, I’m still unlocking new characters, new freakyform pieces and new areas to explore. And these items aren’t rare: I’ve gotten something new–often several–after every single trip to the overworld.

If you like to draw or design, you’ll be in heaven discovering what can be accomplished with the pieces, and then watching your creations spring to life. If you don’t enjoy building from scratch, the game has you covered with an amazing parade of pre-made citizens to copy and alter. Either way, you can let your imagination go nuts in Freakyforms; An orange, ray-gun equipped vampire whale who flies by flapping his mustache-made-of-wings is not a strange sight in this world.

The game’s sound is a highlight, particularly the characters’ nonsense language. Choosing a voice for your character is a hoot, and take note: there are multiple performances for each vocal style–they change between sessions!

The collecting aspect of Freakyforms is as well-presented as its creation tools: awards of new parts and expansions are cleverly spaced throughout the gameplay to keep the momentum going; you’re always enjoying the moment, yet returning again and again to find out what’s inside the next treasure chest, egg, or challenge reward.

Which brings up another great Nintendo touch: the new items don’t come to you as simple announcements, no sir. When you get a prize, it comes packaged in either a foil trading card wrapper or a retail blister pack, complete with the hook hole. Occasionally, you’ll be presented with three blister packs…but you can only pick one! Childhood dimestore flashback!

The gameplay is unique. The idea of a timer ticking down on each platforming session may sound unappealing, but it actually makes the game more fun. The overworld isn’t designed to be explored at leisure; it would get dull quickly. By limiting your time there–and offering many, many objectives to choose from–it suddenly becomes a race to gobble, find, and collect as much as you can. You won’t mind when the timer hits zero, because that means it’s time to see what you’ve won!

The in-game stylus controls may occasionally have you longing for button input, but the slingshot jumping mechanic is enjoyable enough to balance things out. Speaking of balance, it probably won’t take players long to realize that winged characters kick butt and wheeled characters are best left for the cityscape.

The 3D adds a further bit of surrealism and beauty to the two-plane paper world, but I found myself switching it off for extended play. In this game, it’s strictly for show.

I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. With this game, Nintendo has proven that they can, indeed, release an original downloadable title that provides more fun and depth than nearly all iOS offerings. I’ve downloaded a ton of games from Apple’s App Store, and enjoyed most of them. I’d call of few of them “great.” But not one–save for maybe Scribblenauts–has provided me with the kind of full-blast, cartridge-worthy, insane-attention-to-detail fun I’ve gotten from Freakyforms.

Nintendo’s got what it takes to compete in the downloadable game world. They just need to keep it coming. In the meantime, thanks for Freakyforms, Nintendo. It’s worth every penny.

And I’ve no idea why the hats have an “A” on them.