A sequel more than thirty years after the original... but it's as addictive as ever.Frantic Freddie II
I didn't have a Commodore 64 in my youth and so I missed out on the hype around the original Frantic Freddie, which was released in the June of 1984. A manic platform game, the titular character had to collect pies from numerous platforms whilst avoiding the roaming nasties. After clearing each screen of pies, he proceeded to the next and, every two screens there was a quick cut-scene in which Freddie would "fight" the monsters cartoon-style, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.
The Commodore 64 was a fairly new machine at that time and the most impressive thing Frantic Freddie had going for it was the sound which was nothing short of incredible. Each screen of Frantic Freddie featured a boppy rendition of some vaguely familiar ditty, for example the Chatanooga Choochoo. The graphics were more functional than spectacular, but the whole style and pace of the game rendered it more than a little addictive. Despite the £8.95 price tag, PCN opined "You'd be barmy not to buy this" and HCW enthused "This'll keep you amused for hours". A Public Domain conversion to the Amiga 500 followed a few years later, and was in fact my own introduction to the game. And, although the Amiga version was almost identical to the C64 one, there was no denying how satisfying it was to play.
Over thirty years later and we've got Oziphantom's Frantic Freddie II, also for the Commodore 64. Those who love the original will probably already be salivating in expectation so let's quickly reassure them that, yes, Frantic Freddie II is excellent and will touch them in all the right places. The music has been switched to a selection of Seventies, Eighties and Nineties hits (I recognised Stevie Wonder's Superstition and Queen's Don't Stop Me Now) and the curious art of nasty-evading in the first game has been retained.
The nasties are limited to three and glide smoothly around the platforms quasi-randomly, occasionally grouping together making them easier to avoid. Freddie also darts about identically to the original, and the odd ladders that allow you only to climb up one side of them (and down the other) are retained. In fact, the style of the game is practically identical. You could dare to imagine both the original and this sequel had actually been designed with the same game creation tool.
Alas, this also means the irks from the original are similarly present. Collision detection, for example, is a big frustration. In most platformers the baddies do at least need to touch your character to result in his demise. In Frantic Freddie II they seem to get you whilst still being a good few pixels away. Similarly, the "suction powers" of the ladders are very much in evidence too - unless Freddie is completely aligned with the platform he has climbed or descended too, the ladders just won't let him go. The manic nature of the game makes this quirks decidedly frustrating, because if you're stuck on a ladder you not only can't get away from an approaching nasty, but the poor collision detection means he'll get you when you really feel like you should have been given more chance to try to get away.
Between every even-numbered screen and the next is a cutscene which, like in the original, is amusing enough but cannot be skipped. I fail to see the logic of including this feature. Watching the cutscenes over and over again each time you play is boring.
Overall though, this is a brilliant sequel to one of the Commodore's most beloved platformers. I seriously think this will be a contender for one of the best Commodore 64 games of 2019 and suggest you download and play it immediately.