Children are often garbage disposals of interactive entertainment; give them any game and they will devour it. This doesn't, however, imply that they will fail to notice when they've been given actual garbage as opposed thoughtful, creative games. In this regard Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive! is unabashedly intended for younger gamers and founded on an admirable premise, but ultimately spoils well before its implied expiration date.
Freakyforms begins with such promise. A helpful tutorial guides your hand in combining various shapes into a geometric monstrosity with a mouth, legs, and eye(s). It's given a heart, the gift of life, and a Formee is born. You then outfit it with a hilarious gibberish voice and special nickname, and it's instantly precious. Watching your Formee bebops around crude 2D flatlands is everything your failed stop-motion animation project ever wanted to be.
The tool set is remarkably easy to use. Rotating body parts, making legs and wings different sizes, switching models, and changing colors benefit greatly from the use of a stylus. As more and more pieces are unlocked, usually with their own mini-tutorial, you're given considerably spectacular amount of power to forge some pretty amazing creatures. The stylus succeeds where similar tools in LittleBigPlanet fail in that they create (especially for younger gamers) a real-life analog for an abstract activity. Freakyforms strikes a great balance between customization and limitation, ensuring you never get in over your head. Better yet, it's content with almost anything you shove out the door, even if all the body parts aren't attached.
That would be neat if Freakyforms was $8 or so dollars and that was all there was to it. Actually that's interesting because at one point Freakyforms was $8 and that's pretty much all there was to it. Nintendo, apparently surprised by the positive response of the original game, sought to expand its premise. The development team at Asobism added doors to dungeons to their 2D platforming world, which I'll get to shortly, and then Nintendo slapped "Deluxe" at the end of the package and almost tripled the price tag. Additionally the original Freakyforms was promptly removed from the eShop.
This wouldn't be a problem if any of the added content was substantive. What you're presented with is a 2D platformer with a single (though expanding) world where you bounce around and comply with fetch quests for five minutes or less. You encounter colorful foreign Formees and even some of your own roving past creations and they couldn't be more eager to assign menial tasks. Likewise, the lifeless dungeon crawler that emerges a little later (with automated battles) feels equally vapid.
The hook is that doing all of these mundane activities is the reward of new parts for constructing Formees. This is especially attractive when you see the bosses of said dungeon and see the possibilities their body harvest may bring. Kids have a lot of time on their hands, but even they would eventually figure out that the time invested in doing these things isn't worth the progressive drip of more parts as a reward. You're not going to do something you don't like for something that, after the novelty wears off, serves little purpose anyway.
It doesn't help that character control is more frustrating than functional. There's a certain charm in using the stylus the fling your Formee around. Eyeballs and mouths stay in place while the thing flies all over the place, and likewise seeing tires tread across the landscape at the touch of a button is oddly satisfying. My issue, and I suspect that of many others, is that all of this could have been better handled with the 3DS' slide pad. I assumed development at large learned this lesson after Scribblenauts' input methods crashed and burned (and promptly corrected itself with a sequel) but apparently that's not the case. As it stands any sort of jumping in Freakyforms is subject to the whims of tactile flinging.
Will kids care about any of these shortcomings? It's tough to say. Creating Formees is tragically endearing and some kids might be content to build a stable of crazy creations and leave it at that. It's just a bummer that they will have to wade through a tons of sludge in order to get parts to continue making that process interesting. It just doesn't feel worth the trouble.