Freedom Force

Aw, shoot. Where’s my Zapper again?

Review Date: March 27, 2021

Release Date: April 1, 1988

Platform: NES

Developer: Sunsoft

Genre: Zapper

Anecdotes: By time the other set of cousins had an NES, the system had now included the Zapper and Duck Hunt with it. Those cousins had an odd set of games, but didn’t have a lot of them. While games like Championship Bowling and Kid Niki were fun, Freedom Force entertained us more than either of those.

It seemed that game makers mostly gave up on developing games for the light gun. There were only 10 licensed games that required the gun throughout the years of the system. Three of them were launch titles. After that, gun games seemed to trickle out about once or twice a year. To me, Freedom Force felt like an attempt to revive the Zapper genre, but it didn’t really pan out that way.

Description: Hijackers have taken over various surrounding. The camera will slowly pan back and forth over the area as players try to shoot the hijackers, but without shooting the innocent people. As that happens, there will also be a box with surprises that flash in the lower right corner. The game keeps going until the health bar is depleted.

Be cautious about pulling the trigger in this game.

After the second and fourth levels, a quick round of Wheel of Fortune breaks out. Letters are arranged alphabetically in columns of 4. Any of the highlighted letters can be chosen simply by shooting them. They can also be ignored. Every second, the highlighted column changes. If an incorrect letter is shot, it counts as an error. The minigame ends by solving the puzzle, making 5 errors, or running out of time.

Positives: Although the light gun was rarely developed for, Freedom Force did a nice job of producing a game for the genre years later. To me, it feels like what Hogan’s Alley would be if it were made four years later. Instead of cutouts, players are shooting terrorists. Instead of an alley, this game uses five scenes in different settings. They’re nicely detailed and they make it clear where the possible spots people will appear are. Each level autoscrolls back and forth, but I honestly don’t know the conditions for ending a level. Like Hogan’s Alley, though, players can’t just go blindly shooting everything. The game actually forces players to think about what they’re doing, and I find that a lot more enjoyable than just shooting whatever shows up. The game is less a test of reflexes and more a test of quick thinking.

There’s no better place to skateboard than a hangar.

The minigame, although pointless and unnecessary, can be fun. I would imagine, being the NES in 1988, that there aren’t tons of puzzle solutions. The column format makes it more challenging, especially with R, S, and T in the same column. The minigame also uses music that would be recycled into a Blaster Master boss theme.

Hey, I actually got one! I did it by accident, hitting the M by mistake.

Negatives: They could have put a bit more effort into the bad guys; I only saw one design, but the weapons varied. Most losses are going to be caused by the health bar being drained; errors are easy to avoid, but taking too long to hit the bad guys will take its toll.

They also put a box in the lower right corner. It can easily be noticed by peripheral vision and players may just blindly shoot it. It often contains ammunition, health, or a stronger gun. The big problem is that “Harder” is one of the things in flashes. This means players actually have to look at the box, but while they’re looking at the box, they’re not watching the screen and some guy will toss a grenade in. This flaw renders the bonus box completely useless. Players won’t shoot much inside of it.

I could ask why this woman would put herself in the line of fire, or how she can even walk when she’s tied up, but never mind that. That “Harder” logo in the corner is serious trouble. The game is hard enough.

Grade: B

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