Penny’s Big Breakaway – Review

Bring your biggest smile, your most colourful clothing and your sickest yo-yo tricks as we dive into Penny’s Big Breakaway.

At the start of the game (which also doubles as the tutorial), the king is hosting a talent show for his entertainment and the prospect of being the next entertainment employee. During this, Penny sees the line-up is exceptional and looks to find an alternate way in, during this she finds a sentient yo-yo that she almost immediately bonds with causing the duo to do tricks for traversal and combat.

After her show in front of the king, for some unknown reason, the yo-yo decides to eat the king’s clothes leaving him only in his underwear in front of the kingdom which in turn infuriates the king and he places Penny as the land’s most wanted. The king then sends the penguin guard after Penny to place her in jail for ten thousand years.

Penny doing tricks in a field

The game itself is made by the Sonic Mania team but instead of going for a 2D side-scroller, this time around it is a 3D platformer which is very reminiscent of Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D Land, with a colour scheme, art style and musical score that would feel right at home in a 2D Sonic title. There is a plethora of levels to bash and trick-shot your way through (61 levels in total with 34 as the standard levels, fifteen special levels, one for the tutorial, and eleven bosses which are their own level).

During the 34 standard or main progression levels, there are three hidden coins to find. This is the currency used to unlock the fifteen special levels (just like Mario 3D Land). There are also three side objectives to complete for bonus points which if you rack up enough points, will unlock new images in the scrapbook (in-game art gallery) giving you a reason to explore fully and master the controls if you wish to see this bonus content.

penny riding the yo-yo

The controls at their core are extremely easy to learn, but mastering them for combos, either for traversal or point scoring, is where the trickier part comes into play. Yet, the way they are done allows for anyone of any skill level to the able to enjoy the mechanics.

The actual movement and controls themselves are smooth and fluid and feel really nice to control, even more so when you get the combos just right. Penny is not just bound to the move set she is given, as the Yo-Yo can eat power-ups that cause new moves to be given. Things such as eating a burger will cause the Yo-Yo to be enlarged and work as a wrecking, being able to break blocks and deal increased damage.

Penny using air swing

Penny’s health is depicted as four blue blocks that are recovered by eating ice cream. When you lose all four blocks you must restart the stage from the beginning, all the while being chased by the penguins (as yes they are relentless). You will get chances to break free of their hold, however, as you’re running away, they will set up traps to stop and blockade you during your level run. If five of them grab you, you will be sent back to the last checkpoint. But fear not, if you become encumbered by penguins, you can potentially shake them off by using your move set, enabling you to escape.

The artwork in Penny’s Big Breakaway is striking, bright and colourful with clear ties to the colour palette used in their work with Sonic Mania. Every biome has a unique style along with area-specific platforming traps to overcome. Every level is beautiful and while there is a timer for how fast you can get through them for you speed runner folks, for someone who is there to enjoy the game and go for collectables and the side objectives, you can easily spend anywhere from eight to ten minutes on a stage. I’ve even had some stages take me thirteen-plus minutes to complete.

The music score and sound design are precisely what you would expect from a 90’s style platformer that was made by a Sonic Dev team. It’s upbeat, head-bopping-inducing and has an element of playfulness to it which really appealed to me. I’ve honestly left the main menu music on before while doing things just because of how charming it is.

penny posing after clearing a stage

Penny’s Big Breakaway was a truly enjoyable time that has enough of its own mechanics to allow it to make its mark among other platformers that are available. Drawing inspiration from the Mario 3D Land games and using their experience from working on Sonic, Penny’s Big Breakaway just seems to come together nicely, creating a great little title. Although, “Little” may be a bit of a harsh word to use due to the number of stages available and the scrapbook rewards you can earn for hitting those point requirements. 

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a fun game for lovers of old-school platformers or those who enjoy playing games as a family. 

8/10 star rating

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S

Developers: Christian Whitehead, Evening Star

PublisherPrivate Division 





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *