Freedom Finger Xbox One review: Fist bump

It’s hard to tell what the wackiest component of Freedom Finger is – the fact it’s a hardcore shooter wrapped around the concept of a hand-shaped spaceship with a middle finger; the fact it has political themes featuring an all-star cast like Nolan North and John DiMaggio; or the fact it has one of the most unique soundtracks in history while you, ahem, finger away (?) at enemies. Whatever. It all wraps up into a unique experience that you just don’t see in shooters these days, and that’s why you should check it out.

Wide Right Games previously made the game available on PC and Nintendo Switch, but today it makes its debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, nicely expanding its audience even further. The plotline is a bit on the ridiculous side, but you’re basically fighting for Uncle Sam as you liberate against enemies in space, including pesky Russians and more. It’s a bit over the top, and some may find the dialogue a little ham-handed (like, um, real politicians, maybe), but there’s no denying that the game’s addictive shooting is what counts.

This guy’s…snot bad.

Freedom Finger definitely falls into the “bullet hell” category, as you’ll have to avoid incoming enemy attacks while shooting away with a variety of weapons. But Wide Right Games has a very unique concept here with your ship being shaped like a hand. Along with being able to basically “flip off” enemies with bullets, you can also grab them and use their firepower against their own teammates, including a spread gun, a shotgun and more. It just depends on what you grab. On top of that, you can also punch your way through objects and opponents, if they’re close enough.

What’s more, this is a more expansive experience with additional stages, new music tracks (we’ll get to the soundtrack in a sec), a new arcade mode that’s fun if you wish to avoid the story and an optional God mode – in case you’re feeling superior. You can also censor all the dirty words and gestures if you want, should a young one want to check the game out. It’s all tied into the main game quite beautifully, making it more worth playing.

Wait, aren’t sunflowers supposed to be nice?!

The gameplay is challenging, especially in the later levels. But anyone who’s taken a novel approach to “shmups” will be right at home with what it has to offer. It’s definitely something special, and unique in a genre like this. Be prepared to die a few times, but also have a great deal of fun along the way.

As for presentation, the hand-drawn visuals are a nice touch, and it’s good to see some variety in the backdrops and scenarios that your hand gets dropped into. But the real treat here is the audio. Between top-notch voice work by North, DiMaggio, and company, you really get a kick out of the characters, even if they are a bit one-note. And that soundtrack. Wow. Packing tunes from METZ, Power Trip, Aesop Rock, and others, it provides a diverse set of music you just don’t hear in a game like this. It’s refreshing – and very damn good.

Yeah, this guy wants a finger sandwich.

While Freedom Finger isn’t likely to appeal to everyone – its political overtones can be a bit much, along with its difficulty settings – it’s a blast for those that invest. The graphics and audio are really something, the gameplay has tremendous value, and the extra goodies are worth checking out. If anyone gives you any guff over adding this game to your digital library, don’t let it get you down. Just give them the bird.

RATING: 8/10

Long live freedom, and long live Freedom Finger.

DVS Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog

The Sonic the Hedgehog film manages to avoid the pitfalls of failed video game movies by sticking to the source material.

Video game adaptations of movies are a mixed bag; you generally expect it to closely follow the source material. There have been successful video game movies such as Tomb Raider and Detective Pikachu and flops such as Assassin’s Creed and Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario Bros. adaptation was so bad, Bob Hoskins (who played Mario) said that it was not only the worst job he’s ever done but also called it his biggest disappointment and something that he would edit out of his past in a 2007 interview. Knowing the track record of video game films, would Sonic the Hedgehog suffer the same fate as their Nintendo-based plumber rivals?

Most classic Sonic the Hedgehog media is memorable; could the live-action film create new memories?

I enjoyed watching Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as a kid; the TV show cast Jaleel White as the voice of Sonic (he would also voice Steve Urkel in the successful African-American sitcom Family Matters) and also played Sonic games fervently in my childhood. I even was Sonic for Halloween, so this was sort of a homecoming for me after Sega significantly chucked the franchise down the toilet in the new millennium. After the fall of Sega as a console developer, the company relegated him to terrible video games on the Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox, and Xbox 360, as well as token appearances on other Nintendo consoles.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Thankfully, Paramount Pictures had bought the film rights to the franchise in 2017 and a cast of James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, and 90s comedy superstar Jim Carrey had joined the cast by 2018. The film was scheduled for a November 2019 release, but fans were upset about the Sonic design. The producers listened, and they pushed the film back to a February 14, 2020 release.

Jim Carrey turns in one of his finest performances in years.

The film avoided a major pitfall by sticking to its source material. The trailer prominently featured the Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. While Tom Wachowski (James Marden) provides straight-man relief for Sonic’s (Ben Schwartz) 500-miles-a-minute speech patterns, the real star of the movie was Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey). The United States government begrudgingly employs Dr. Robotnik to investigate Sonic’s appearance, which sets off the events of the film.

Sonic the Hedgehog Dr. Robotnik

His performance during the movie reminded me a lot of the Jim Carrey of old, who made audiences double over in movies such as Ace Ventura and Liar Liar, harkening back to his roots in physical and slapstick comedy and doing what he does best: playing over-the-top, exaggerated characters. I would go as far as to say that Carrey enhanced the role of Dr. Robotnik, who portrayed a cartoon villain in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog series. Carrey used his experience as someone who portrayed those over-the-top and exaggerated characters and seamlessly placed it into the Dr. Robotnik character like he never missed a beat.

Although Sonic made way too many pop culture references during the film, his performance brings together the Sonic fans of old (such as myself) and younger audiences who may have never heard of him or heard about him from their parents. The film rides the wave of 90s nostalgia and revivals that have been a part of Hollywood for the past five or so years and surfs it almost perfectly from start to finish. The synchronization of the live-action and cartoon elements of the film cannot be ignored either. We hope this kicks off a long string of live-action Sonic movies, as this may be the blueprint that video game movies need to succeed.

Grade: A