FreezeME, developed and published by Rainy Night Creations, is a 3D platformer that takes inspiration from 90's classics such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. You'll play as R, a young girl who is on a quest to rescue her dog friend, M, after he had been abducted by the antagonist Fat the Cat. Things are still a mystery as to how exactly he plans to do it, but you know one way or another, Fat the Cat wants to make it a dog-free world. The game has a unique twist to it; the camera strapped around R's neck can be used to freeze things in their place with the simple press of a button.
You can buy the game on Steam or WiiU for $13.99, or PlayStation Store or Xbox Marketplace for $9.99.
FreezeME - Release Trailer - Steam
Immediately when you begin controlling R, you'll begin to feel as if it is a clone of Super Mario 64. The way she runs, jumps, and attempts to do a dive similar to Mario's belly slide. There's even a similarity to the way Mario would do his crouching backflip when she does a U-turn somersault.. It's not to hard to grasp the controls, but there are a lot of things mechanically to remember as you play. Thankfully the game makes it more than easy to pull up the controls guide so that you can look at it whenever you need or want to. It lacks a true feeling of smoothness while moving around, and perhaps is due to the issues with camera work (explained later), but in general there were just some things that needed more polishing. R's jumping can be unpredictably strong or incredibly annoying, especially as she grabs on the side of a wall and pushes off. There were times I flew over my intended landing spot.
There's 4 different worlds to tackle, each with different environments, one even being of similarity to Mario Galaxy where you'll play with changing gravity in space and small planet like objects. The worlds are extremely big in design, and house dozens of obstacles and platform puzzles. The issue with them though is that I never got an overwhelming sense of accomplishment from anything. Dozens of seemingly simple platform puzzles pushed close together didn't let me feel that anything was breathing its own challenge. Perhaps it's a little overcompensation for not having something akin to "Tall, Tall Mountain." Your hub will be a very large, two-level, hill with the floating blue warp portals scattered around that will transition you to the worlds, as well as where you'll try out some of the challenge worlds, each with uniquely different gameplay, or mini-games.
The main objective though is to collect gold cubes so that you can successfully save your pal M. In total, there are 40 (10 each level) of these golden cubes (although you won't need to collect every one in order to beat the game). Aside from them, there's green coins and red pig coins that, upon collecting enough of, will allow you to essentially purchase a gold cube. Hidden screws also play into gameplay as they will be used to repair canons that can then shoot you into a specific direction. Salamanders, as completely random and weird as the idea is, are another hidden collectable to find while exploring. The thing that sets this title apart from other 3D platforms, both new and classic, is the freezing gameplay that it obviously gets its name from. R carries around a camera that, for some reason or another, freezes objects and characters.
Aiming is not easy at times though; you're basically free aiming a laser sight, in third-person. Sometimes you'll need to freeze moving objects/characters so that you can jump on top of, block other hazards, or perform attacks. And speaking of attacks, if you're unable to jump attack on top of an enemy's head, you'll need to kick them. You can jump and kick, or do a spinning kick, but just as the unreliable somersault jump requires you to do a U-turn to execute, you must move R in a circle before kicking (also pretty unreliable). Later in the game you'll be able to summon your inner Dragonball Z, turning R's hair red and giving her the abilities to fly (or rather glide far distances). It takes a way from some of the platforming but if you're trying to simply run around to finish getting 100 percent it'll make a huge difference.
Presentation and Performance
I've compared this title to Super Mario 64 way more times than I would have liked to do (and I'll compare it once or twice more), but the transitions of changing worlds with a cutout of the protagonist zooming in as they strike a pose and shout something like "whoo-hoo" is as similar as anything is. Even when dropping into a new world and the music begins playing, it is essentially the exact same. Each world has it's own music that fits the theme well, and keeps it all tied together. You'll constantly hear similar shuffling of the feet as R runs through grass or dirt. These similar sound effects and musical choices are not a bad thing though; the classics are classics for a reason and this would fail if it didn't give off the same rings and nostalgia. There is no voice acting in the game either, just text boxes.
Graphically the game is bright and colorful, and full of sharp structures/characters. It throws a lot at you with large worlds packed with different platforming to indulge yourself with. R looks like a Mii character, which feels out of place on other consoles, but that comes down to perspective I suppose. For the most part, the game performs smoothly, but the camera… the camera can be your worst enemy. By far the biggest negative of the game, at times it completely hates you. It shifts in awkward ways, and sometimes chooses the worst out of any possible options regarding angle. I found myself struggling with some platforms due to this. It was worse the first few times it occurred until I found that sometimes the struggle can be softened by zooming into nearly a first-person perspective and then exiting it. Just like any game with an uncooperative camera, once you get used to it, you get to enjoy the rest of the game.
Sometimes when a game uses inspiration from major hits, or flat out makes a tribute to it, it drastically pails in comparison (sometimes it's a grand success). It will feel right at home with some, while it will feel like a major downgrade to the ones in the past (Super Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy) to others. Difficulty is a bit of a loose concept as you're biggest challenges will come from gameplay mechanics as opposed to the fairly simple boss fights. As a kid this game would have hit a home run with me despite some of the complications it has, and I'm sure the same would be the case for many, if not all, kids today, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. The demographics seems to aim for a younger audience, while older individuals who seek nostalgia may get a kick out of it as well. It's a relatively inexpensive game compared to many other indie titles which is another thing going for it. Again, some will love it, some will be disappointed; if you do try it, just keep your expectations of a new "Mario game" very low, and remember that it's not Mario, its FreezeME.
|+ Classic 90's 3D Platformer tribute||– Camera is not your friend|
|+ Light-hearted gameplay and environments||– Bosses are pretty easy|
|+ Fun and inexpensive title||– I wish it had more worlds to explore and play|