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Freedom Fighters! Box
Box Front

Box Back Photo Needed

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Overall Score:
(Out of 5)
Gameplay: 4.3
Graphics: 3.5
Sound: 3.6

Freedom Fighters! holds a little nostalgic charm for me. It was the last "new" Odyssey² game I obtained back when the system was current. By the time I received it, I already owned most of the American games (didn't know there were was any such thing as a "Videopac" back then), and I hadn't picked up a new cartridge for a long while. So I was pretty excited when I first plugged Freedom Fighters! into my console. Was I disappointed? At first, yes, I was a bit let down. The game was much harder than I had anticipated. However, after struggling with it for a while, I started to get the hang of the game's weird dual-joystick control scheme, and gradually came to appreciate its challenge. It never became an all-time favorite, but it wasn't a bad note for my original O2 collection to end on either.

Freedom Fighters!, interestingly enough, plays like a cross between the arcade classics Defender and Asteroids. Defender was obviously the principal inspiration behind Freedom Fighters!; in fact, European prototypes labeled "Defenders" have even been found. Like the arcade game, Freedom Fighters! requires the player, who pilots a spaceship, to rescue endangered humans. The humans in questions are encased in deep-space "Confinement Crystals." They are represented on screen by rectangular purple icons that float across the playfield in random trajectories. Touch the prisoners with your ship to rescue them and score a big point bonus.

Naturally, your mission is complicated by the presence of the Pulsars -- the asterisk-shaped vessels that were responsible for imprisoning the humans in the first place. The pulsating Pulsar vessels move in circular patterns near the edge of the screen, emitting "hunter-killer drone mines." The mines are small, white dots that float vaguely toward you. Blast the mines and the Pulsars to earn points and to clear the way so that you can rescue more prisoners. Be careful, however, not to shoot the prisoners -- doing so blows them to pieces, which is kind of at odds with the whole point of the rescue mission.

At first, Freedom Fighters! is a fairly standard, Asteroids-style single-screen space shooter, with a little rescue mission bonus mixed in. It's when you pick up the second joystick, however, that things begin to become unusual. The other controller lets you "fly through hyperspace," which basically means that you can scroll the screen to the right or left. Hyperspace travel can be very useful, if you need to rescue a drifting prisoner or flee an area crowded with Pulsars and mines. However, you move quickly in hyperspace, and it's all too easy to crash -- especially since you can't maneuver your ship in hyperspace unless you are adept at manipulating two joysticks at the same time. The Freedom Fighters! manual suggests using two players: one for regular control and one for hyperspace control. Of course, you don't always have two players handy, so if you want to succeed at Freedom Fighters!, you'll have to master dual-joystick play.

Because the action heats up quickly, and because it's so difficult to tag the prisoners without using hyperspace, it's impossible to get the full Freedom Fighters! experience without picking up the second joystick. But because controlling two joysticks at once is cumbersome at best, Freedom Fighters! can sometimes seem a bit too difficult. Unsurprisingly, one hit kills you and you only get one life, which is quite frankly an unacceptable design flaw in a game this hard. Extra lives would have made the game much, much more enjoyable. As it is, you just have to accept its limitations and learn to appreciate it as a challenge to be mastered. At least the last O2 game I picked up in the '80s gave me a reason to keep playing it.

All Reviewer Ratings:

J.W. Hunter4.02.54.0-3.5
Mark Darmofal3.23.42.8-3.1
Mike Cronis5.04.03.0-4.0
Ron Corcoran5.02.02.0-3.0
Tim Whalen5.04.05.0-4.7
William Cassidy3.23.03.5-3.2

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