Important Freeon-Leon News

This coming month looks to be a busy one for nerds of my stripe, what with Unicorn Overlord, Princess Peach: Showtime!, a new Contra, and the bulk of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth looming over all. Yet the most important release is Ufouria: The Saga 2, in my opinion. That’s because it brings back Freeon-Leon. 

I discussed the first Ufouria: The Saga and its enduring appeal in my previous post. It’s cute, complex, cleverly designed, and largely unweathered by several decades of advances in video games. My favorite part of it is Freeon-Leon, the orange dinosaur hero who trots around with an expression of perpetual astoundment. 

I especially like it when, instead of ducking in a traditional manner, Freeon-Leon flops on his back and stares upwards, as though comprehending the weight of all existence. And then, realizing the necessity of enduring the day as it stands, he scoots along the ground. 

Freeon-Leon was crafted for the Western release of Ufouria, however. The Japanese version has a cat-suited girl named O-Chan instead, and Sunsoft carried her over to the Hebereke series that grew out of Ufouria (and seldom saw any releases outside of Japan). When Ufouria: The Saga 2 rolled around, it seemed to forget all about Freeon-Leon as well as Bop-Louie, the snowman-like revamp of series protagonist Hebe. 

Well, Sunsoft didn’t forget! Ufouria 2 has Hebe and O-Chan as playable characters, but you’ll see both Bop-Louie and Freeon-Leon on rare occasions. At the end of each stage is a Bobodori bird that flies the heroes back home, and that return trip occasionally shows Freeon-Leon or Bop-Louie instead of O-Chan or Hebe. 

This appears to be the limit of their cameos, as even after buying all of the game’s items I can’t find a way to unlock them as playable characters. Making them mere alternate skins for the existing cast might even mess with the game’s dialogue. O-Chan seems a little more braggadocious than Freeon-Leon’s boggled stare would imply, though Bop-Louie likely could share a lot of Hebe’s lines. I naturally would prefer that they be entirely separate characters, fitting with the game’s self-aware sense of humor. 

I will continue my investigation, but even this small cameo is a wonderful surprise. It’s also a good example of Ufouria 2’s winning attention to detail and heritage. I praised all of that in my review, and I really hope that the game doesn’t get buried under the weight of more prominent titles this year. Sunsoft is planning an enhanced reissue of the original Hebereke as well, so there’s another chance for a Ufouria re-release and more of Freeon-Leon.

No comments:

Post a Comment