Monday, March 17, 2008


Apparently, FreeDroid started out as a clone of the game Paradroid, but morphed into FreeDroidRPG. This is a review of the former; the latter will be reviewed next. This 'classic' version of FreeDroid hasn't been updated since 2003, so it's safe to say that it's been abandoned, I think.

The game begins with an introductory story, explaining that two ships have turned on distress beacons indicating that the droids on board have gone wacko. They're in a contested border region of your galactic empire or whatever, and therefore the ships must be boarded and the droids must be destroyed, to keep their technology from the enemy.

I had a really hard time figuring this one out, because to have any staying power at all you have to play a minigame where you take control of other robots, and it's not documented at all within the game or on the website. I got enough of it to feel like I half-ass know what I'm doing from the man page, but I still feel like I'm missing something.

The basic play is simple; use the awsd keys to move your little guy around, blasting droids. Unfortunately, your little guy is constantly losing juice, and to refuel you have to take over other droids via the mini-game described above. The graphics in the menu and the death screens are all really nice looking, in a two-dimensional hand-drawn way. The game itself is pretty low-fi.

Your speed seemed to depend on what you were controling, and there's a bit of physics implemented as far as momentum goes, when you crash into other droids, which is fun. Mostly the controls were responsive, but they get clumsy in the minigame (adding insult to injury), sometimes overshooting or doing nothing, in the same way Gnometris did.

The sound is low-key and the music, while quiet, is soothing old-school style electronica. In all, I'd say its sound design was its strongest feature. The core game mechanics were decent enough, but inscrutable enough to be frustrating for quite a while.

Mostly, I'd give this game a pass unless you were a fun of the original Amiga 'classic' I'd never heard of. There are better real-time games out there, and it's not much of a strategy game, though it seems to try. FreeDroid tries to do two types of gameplay but does neither very well. The result is unimpressive, though it's not actually bad.

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