Monday, February 5

Review: Frederic 2 - Evil Strikes Back [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Up to this point there have been a fair number of music and rhythm games on the Switch that have distinguished themselves with different styles, both in terms of their music and their gameplay. It appears that with the Frederic series, but specifically Frederic 2 in this case, a new dimension needs to be added as well: A really bizarre story with parodies of famous musicians and riffs on some of their iconic music. The resulting game is certainly clever and amusing but the question would be how its tunes and style hold up.

For this quest Frederic will have to travel the world, this time in a golden DeLorean, in order to try to find and defeat the Puppet Master. If this sounds a bit odd, yes it is, but that seems to be a cornerstone of the game’s charm so you’ll just need to go with it. At each stop of his tour through 10 stages he’ll then face a new foe, some of them based on parodies of pop icons such as Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson, and get into a musical battle with them. While the controller can be used for these battles I found managing the various notes to be akin to having my tongue tied, except with my fingers. It can be managed, but it is a challenge. Without a doubt the preferred way to play is in handheld mode with the touchscreen where life is simply far easier and you can get on to enjoying the ride.

One way the game is able to manage a far more budget-friendly price is by avoiding the issues and cost of licensed music, instead opting to go with variants that often have elements of tunes you’ll recognize but different enough to avoid any issues. The result of this is mixed, depending on your tastes. On the one hand there music is pretty good and appropriate for this type of game but on the other it can make you yearn to just hear the original tracks the music is based on. Where you fall on this spectrum will be a matter of your musical tastes and devotion to the originals. The nice thing is that, overall, the genre and style representation is relatively broad so each battle at least feels pretty distinct.

In terms of some issues there are some rough edges worth being aware of. Probably the most peculiar is with the special attacks you’ll be able to charge up and use to help defeat your enemies. Assuming you’ll settle in to using the touchscreen what’s notable about the special attack is that it requires you to hit both shoulder buttons to use it, and the window to use it passes pretty quickly. Depending on how you’ve chosen to either hold the Switch or play with it on a surface this can be really disruptive and aggravating to trigger without completely losing your place and needing to then quickly get back into your groove again. I was also a bit surprised at how heavy a swing in difficulty the game had from Easy (which, for the most part is almost too easy) and Normal, even though the overall notes and patterns didn’t seem to change much, it seemed more to be a matter how heavy a penalty you paid for mistakes instead. In addition, he style of the piano-like interface is aesthetically pleasing, and makes sense, but in execution I’d say everything is a bit more muddled visually in terms of helping you understand what notes and rhythms are coming up.

Overall, among the rhythm games I’ve played on the Switch, I’d say as a package Frederic 2 has its merits but it lands roughly in the middle of the pack for me. It’s interface isn’t as clear to me as some others I’ve played, but in particular its relatively low price and strange sense of humor help elevate it somewhat, depending on your tastes. It is easiest to recommend if you’re looking for a musical fix and don’t have much in the way of funds, if cost isn’t your main driver I’d say the best bet would be to sample video of a variety of games to determine which music and interface suits your tastes the best.

Score: 7

  • A pretty bonkers story with parodies of a number of famous musicians
  • Relatively diverse musical selections that are typically based on tunes you’ll recognize
  • A budget price

  • Triggering special attacks is a pain
  • Difficulty levels vary pretty wildly but seem more based on how they penalize mistakes than changing the note patterns
  • The lack of licensed music may be a non-starter for some

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