Published on March 10th, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

Penny’s Big Breakaway Review

Penny’s Big Breakaway Review Gareth Newnham

Summary: Penny's Big Breakaway is a fantastic debut from Evening Star and a must play for platformer fans everywhere.


Lindy Loop

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a creative, unique, and incredibly fun 3D platformer that harkens back to the best games of the heyday of the genre in the late 90s and early 2000s.

The latest retro-style platformer from the geniuses behind Sonic Mania, now known as Evening Star, Penny’s Big Breakaway is a brand new IP that looks and feels more like a contemporary of the likes of Banjoe Kazooie and Sonic Adventure than a game that takes inspiration from them. if I didn’t know better, I would swear it was a long-lost Dreamcast game.


Set in the weird and wonderful world of Macaroon, much like the UK, it appears that the entire country is enthralled with talent shows to find the latest acts to take part in an annual Royal Gala. After finding a sentient yo-yo young hopeful, Penny cuts the queue for Macaroons Got Talent and proceeds to wow the judges with her impeccable yo-yo skills. That is until the Yoyo decides to tear Emperor Eddie’s clothes off. After narrowly escaping the palace, Penny has been branded public enemy number one and is on the run from the emperor’s guards, a relentless waddle of penguins that will stop at nothing to catch the fugitive. They’re the emperor’s penguins. They’re emperor penguins. Get it!

While on the run, Penny encounters all manner of friends and frenemies as she unravels the real power behind the crown as well as the origins of the mysterious fanged yo-yo that’s caused all the trouble.

It’s a light-hearted tale, and mostly there to serve the gameplay, that mixes the momentum-based platforming of Sonic, the semi-open world design of Super Mario 3D World, and the combo chasing trick-changing gameplay of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It sounds about as disparate as you can get, but thanks to some brilliant level design, tight controls, and plenty of fun ways to wrack up a high score while slicing seconds off your time as you careen around each stage, seeing how far you can push your score.

Like most highscore-based platformers Penny’s Big Breakaway, your first runs through each level mostly serve as a way to learn the basics and how to get from A to B. But as you revisit each level, you’ll soon figure out how each part of the environment relates to Penny’s moveset.
Jumps are spaced, so you can usually make them with a combination of jumping, swinging, and dashing, while slopes let you dive on top of your yo-yo to build up momentum and barrel up the side of half pipes or over large gaps.

Like Tony Hawk, once everything begins to click and you start to pull off big combos, and manage a perfect run, unlocking a postcard for your troubles, it never fails to feel incredibly satisfying.

This is helped by the fact that the controls are responsive, and the bevy of moves you can pull off can be easily chained together for maximum effect; for example, your air dash can be used to help build speed and momentum, which can then help you tear around the level when you dive on your yo-yo.

As well as trying to get around as quickly as you can, there are also three collectible bolts hidden throughout each stage, numerous secret paths and routes through the staged and side quests to carry out for the Bonanza Bros sequel NPCs that populated each level. These quests generally involve either trying to hit a certain combo score, delivering an item to someone further along in the level, or collecting a series of items along a particular route before the time runs out.

Each of these pickups and completed tasks rewards you with bolts that are then used to unlock a series of challenging bonus levels that really do test the limits of your platforming skill and mastery of Penny’s move set.

The only annoying thing about the side quests, though, is that if you fail them, there is no way to retry them without throwing yourself off the side of the level. Thankfully, there’s usually a health lolly close by to the start of the more tricky challenges, but it would be nice if you could just hit retry if you want to rather than having to commit hari-kiri to retry a simple side mission.

Every level throws new gimmicks, concepts, and power-ups into the mix, from trampolines and diving boards that throw you into the air, water, and lava for you to skim through, as well as all manner of food-based powerups like chillis that make you boost along at high speed, cakes that let you glide slowly to the ground, and burgers that turn your yo-yo into a powerful wrecking ball.

Punctuating each world are some fantastic boss fights that include Penny using her yo-yo skills to catch up with and fix a broken pirate ship, play billiards with the multiple heads of a king fu-kicking robot, and escape a wrecking ball made of hundreds of angry penguins.

Complimenting its distinctly old-school gameplay, Penny’s Big Breakaway also has a graphical style that makes it look like a long-lost Dreamcast game. All bright colors, smooth edges, and exaggerated characters have a distinctly turn-of-the-century SEGA flavor to them. In other words, it’s brimming with charm.

This is matched by a catchy, diverse, and upbeat soundtrack from Sonic Mania composer Tee Lopes, that mixes elements of rock, pop, and and house. To create some unique and bouncy melodies that fit the breakneck pace of the gameplay perfectly.

It also runs superbly on the PS5, rocking along at a solid 60fps, though I did encounter some minor bugs during my time with the game, like Penny managing to go out of bounds of the level at one point, as well as some minor physics foul-ups that killed my momentum dead. However, these are only minor grumbles, it’s irritating, but there was nothing game-breaking.

Final Thoughts

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a challenging, yep, approachable 3d platformer with bags of old-school charm, slick level design, and top-tier platforming that both fans of a certain blue hedgehog and 3d platformers in general should certainly check out.

About the Author'

Back to Top ↑
  • Quick Navigation

  • Advertisement

  • Latest Posts

  • First Look

  • Join us on Facebook