When I was a kid I was obsessed with monsters. I drew them with crayon, sculpted them out of Play-Doh, and constructed them out of Legos. The results were crude, but they lived on in my dreams, where they weren't confined to inanimate states. My eight year-old self would have been infatuated by Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive!, a game that lets you design your own creatures, then take control of them as they explore a world filled with even more bizarre beasts. Unfortunately, my 28 year-old self realises that perhaps these monstrosities were better left to my imagination.

You start out playing virtual Mr. Potato-Head in a simple character creator, like a stripped-down Spore. Heads and torsos are comprised of basic shapes, but these needn't be used in the intended ways. Just because a shape is found under the "head" category doesn't mean it can't be multiplied and adorned around a torso. Certain parts add unique properties, like wings that grant flight or wheels that allow quick horizontal traversal, but the possibilities are so endless that these functions seldom impede the creative process. After designing a creature (called a "formee"), you must characterise them further by assigning a name, a short catch phrase, and a gibberish voice.

Once manifested, you take control of them and explore a relatively small 2D map populated by other formees (both ones that you've made and preset characters). Eventually you unlock the ability to further personalise your environment by manipulating various art assets from the background, to houses, to trees. The DNA of Animal Crossing and Chibi-Robo is apparent with much of the fun emanating from what outlandish new critters you'll discover in your crazy freak town.

Unfortunately, Freakyforms lacks the robust scripts that gave those games so much character. The cast may look neat and animate beautifully, but they're defined entirely by their design and the tone of their garbled mumble-speak. They don't tell stories or gossip, making character interaction disappointingly shallow.

A shame, as aside from discovering new formees, there's little to do in this part of the game besides collect coins, find treasure, and eat fruit. Other characters will give quests, but these all resort to running around the map retrieving the same clutter you'd be collecting anyway. Since the maps are small, you're rarely covering new ground, but rather retreading the same terrain picking up randomised objects. This soon turns into rote grinding to unlock more assets in the creation aspect.

Freakyforms: Your Creations Alive!

Being able to share creations and photos of your quirky customised realm via StreetPass is appreciated, but you can't visit other people's worlds, which is a disappointment.

Elsewhere, controls are fiddly. On the editing side there's no "undo" button and it's all too easy to accidentally drag a head when you meant to merely scoot the eye a few pixels. Layers are predetermined and it takes trial and error to determine what parts will show up in front of others. On the exploration end, the stylus-only controls make characters walk slowly, while jumping is handled by pulling back on a formee's body then flinging it as if from a slingshot. It's a much quicker way to get around, but imprecise.

Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive!: Specs

  • Available for Nintendo 3DS only
  • purchased via Nintendo eShop.
  • Available for Nintendo 3DS only
  • purchased via Nintendo eShop.

OUR VERDICT

Ultimately, Freakyforms is a game of two halves. Playing mad scientist in the creature creator is fun and it's a great reward seeing your monsters come to life. The problem comes from what to do next. I know that when I was a boy, I envisioned my legion of monsters doing a lot more than gathering knick knacks.

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