Freakyforms: Your Creations Alive has very modest ambitions. While most games with creation tools hope that you’ll use said tools to serve the play, with Freakforms, there’s very little play to be found at all. Instead, the game is entirely focused on giving life to any creature, inanimate object or idea you can imagine, often in the crudest and goofiest way possible. It doesn’t matter if you create an ordinary, normally-proportioned dog; the moment your “formee” is in motion, he’ll be stumbling and bumbling as if he wet noodles for legs. This is the video game equivalent of Dumpy the Pumpkin or that awful sputtering ketchup bot or any of the other inane-yet-lovable things we frequently bring up on our podcast each week. Freakforms aims to please so much that you can’t help but forgive so many of its failings.
To be fair, the actual creation mode, in which you’ll spend a good deal of time, is incredibly versatile. As you play through the adventure, you’re offered dozens of parts, all of which can be stretched, shrunken, rotated and thickened to suit your needs. As long as your formee has a mouth and a body, the game will find a way to put it into motion, and there isn’t an advanced physics model or anything like that to get in the way. I love LittleBigPlanet as much as anyone, but sometimes I just want to slap some wheels on a brick and call it a car. Freakyforms lets you make things as rudimentary or as complex as you’d like, but you’ll never be punished for ever making something “incorrectly.”
However wonderful this creation mode may be, you’ll eventually want to do something with your misfit toys, and that’s when Freakyforms stumbles a bit. Apparently, the game’s director, Hiroshi Moriyama, directed the Chibi Robo series as well, which is unsurprising given their shared emphasis on helping others and spreading happiness throughout the land. However, while Chibi Robo was constantly throwing in new gadgets and sections of a huge house to explore, Freakyforms never offers much besides repetitive fetch quests and scavenger hunts. It’s impressive that every element of the environment can be tweaked – you can swim through a green lake of dnL with purple sky and pig shaped clouds if you so desire – and there are enough developer-created friends to collect that you might go along with the monotony longer than expected. But there’s still not much of a game here.
However, I’d argue that Freakyforms is much more of a toy than it is a game, and if you’re willing to tinker with it, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Assuming that you still have your AR card from way back, you can bring your creations into the real world, and the QR codes ensure that you don’t need online functionality to share over long distances. (There’s already a sizable Japanese community.) The game also uses StreetPass quite effectively, allowing you to share of your creations with any random passerby, without any content restrictions. Sure, Nintendo’s risking having all sorts of phallic nightmares being sent out into the world, but I love that this infamously strict publisher is actually facilitating creativity for once. Many of its games, especially on the handheld front, have featured terrific user-generated content – Picross 3D and WarioWare D.I.Y. come to mind – but until now, the distribution channels just weren’t there. Believe it or not, the motley Freakyforms is actually incredibly forward thinking in that regard, and perhaps it’s a sign of things to come. That, or it’s just means of slapping googly eyes onto an endless string of mistakes, but either way, it’s a winner in my book.