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== Nixon Computer ==
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GAME CLEAR No. 174 -- Penny's Big Breakaway

video games game clear evening star ps5 playstation

Penny’s Big Breakaway (2024, Multiplatform)

Developer: Evening Star
Publisher: Private Division
Clear Version: PS5
Clear Platform: PS5
Clear Date: 6/7/24

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To use a phrase I kind of don’t care for, I really wanted to like this game. It’s made by the folks who made Sonic Mania, a game I like, and its concept flows from that origin. It’s a momentum-based 3D platformer that plays like a more direct attempt to convert the Genesis Sonic gameplay to 3D than any of the actual 3D Sonic games have been. It also has beautiful graphics and art direction that look like a Genesis game turned 3D in a way I was genuinely gobsmacked guy. Oh, and Tee Lopes threw a great soundtrack over all the action. A pretty good combo so far!

It stars a cute little somebody named Penny and follows her run from the law following her felonious embarrassing of the Emperor. She uses her sentient yo-yo to nagivate through the game’s dozens of levels. Whether you’re flicking it out to dash forward, suspending it in mid-air to act as a swing, or simply riding it like a wheel, success in the game relies on mastering its movement mechanics — and that unfortunately is also where it breaks down.

Over the 5ish hours it took me to beat this game, I really never felt like I got all that good at it, and that sucks! Every once in awhile, I could kinda get in a groove, but my mood was inevitably dampened by falling into a pit or eating shit on some obstacle or something.

It kind of interested me that this really bothered me because it’s a complaint I’ve often heard about 16-bit Sonic. “Oh, I never liked Sonic you get going super fast and then WHAM you crash into some spikes and instantly lose all momentum,” people would say to me. And I’d just be like “yeah, idk, I guess that just never really bothered me.” And it didn’t! I’d just pick my rings up and get on with it.

So what’s the difference? Maybe it’s that the navigational/platforming highs of Sonic felt better to me than those in Penny? Or maybe the lows of Penny are lower? I’m leaning toward the latter explanation. Penny’s has a lot more bottomless pits than Sonic, which leads to a lot more “back to checkpoint” moments that can feel really deflating. At least in Sonic you’re usually just scrambling for rings and back up to speed in moments. Tough to say. I’m not really sure I know why one works for me and the other doesn’t!

And that’s why I’d certainly stop short of giving this the proverbial thumbs down or anything like that. I think there’s an audience this could really work for. It never clicked for me, but there’s all kinds of games for which that is the case. It’s a gorgeous game with a lot of character, so I think it’s certainly for someone. Just kind of a bummer it wasn’t for me!