Penny’s Big Breakaway review

by on March 1, 2024
Reviewed On
Also Tested On
Release Date

February 21, 2024.


At the start of a year we always seem to get an exciting shadow drop or two from a high profile presentation, and as a gamer there’s nothing I love more than the joy of a new exciting game being available instantly. Last year opened with Hi-Fi Rush revealed and released all at once after an Xbox gaming showcase, and Nintendo dropped a remaster of Metroid Prime (you know, one of the greatest games of all time, no big deal) before we even knew it existed. Well this year Nintendo had a few surprises available immediately in its partner showcase, but the one that caught my eye immediately was Penny’s Big Breakaway. Admittedly this was partially because I really enjoyed previewing it last month, but as a platform fan it was my duty to jump in immediately and review it.

Our hero Penny is a street performer with a dream, to show off her mad yo-yo skills to the biggest crowd possible. When King Eddie decides to let the public audition to perform at the royal talent show, she knows this is her time to shine. This would be fine if on the way to audition Penny hadn’t found a mysterious cosmic string for her yo-yo that brought it to life, but alas the new living yo-yo causes a scene and forces Penny to live a new life on the run from the law through colourful platforming levels. It’s silly, it’s throwaway, and it’s exactly what I want in a platforming story to get me playing some levels.

A screenshot of Penny's Big Breakaway

What will be immediately apparent when you jump into your first stage of Penny’s Big Breakaway is that this isn’t a 3D platformer with the standard run and jump moveset. Armed with Yo-Yo, Penny can grapple and swing across gaps, air dash huge distances, and get a little upwards boost by launching her yo-yo to the sky. That’s only a handful of the handy toy based abilities Penny has access to, and when combined together you can avoid all the dangers that the themed levels of the game throws your way.

One way that Penny’s Big Breakaway really differs from a lot of 3D platformers is the fact it has a fixed camera angle and more linear stages. You won’t be exploring massive worlds for shiny doodads here, and instead will be following a fairly straightforward path and avoiding obstacles in a more Crash Bandicoot style of game. It’s an interesting choice, but I have to admit I appreciated the less common twist on the genre.

Despite the fixed camera though, there are still plenty of hidden collectables to be gathered in Penny’s Big Breakaway. Each stage features three golden nuts which are used to unlock cool bonus stages, and three people in need of help who have different missions they’ll task you with. These range from collecting something within a time limit to delivering an item to another NPC without getting hit, and if you can accomplish them there will be a bigger crowd at the end of the level to watch your performance.

A screenshot of Penny's Big Breakaway

Score chasers will love Penny’s Big Breakaway, thanks to the fact everything you do is scored and when you link moves together you build up a combo like in a Tony Hawk game. There’s no pressure to actually do this aside from during the occasional side objective, but it’s undeniably a cool element that certain players will love.

All the best platformers have varied power ups and interesting themed stages, and Penny’s Big Breakaway has those in spades. On the power up side we have the burger that transforms your yo-yo into a powerful wrecking ball that breaks blocks, a chilli pepper than lets you ride your yo-yo at top speed across lava, and a propeller plant that turns your spin attack into a helicopter style traversal method. All the usual ice, fire and water stages are present too, with fun gimmicks galore to play around with.

All the different elements of Penny’s Big Breakaway should combine to create a game that I absolutely adore, but it has a few significant issues that prevent that. One of the biggest of these is the distance between checkpoints, which is only an issue because every time you fall off an edge (which happens often) you’re sent back to one regardless of how much health you have. It’s really easy to go a bit overboard with all your yo-yo abilities and overshoot a ledge too (or at least it was for me) which meant the levels that already felt a little too long just dragged.

A screenshot of Penny's Big Breakaway

Even if you aren’t bothered by the checkpoint issue, you’ll probably be bothered by the bugs. There were so many different times where I’d get stuck in a different part of the environment or fall through the floor because I swung off my yo-yo in a specific way, and it was so annoying. In one particular drag of a boss fight, I had almost triumphed when I fell through the floor and every time I respawned I continued to clip through the environment until I got a game over and had to restart the whole fight. These bugs seriously hampered my enjoyment of the game, and were bordering on the unacceptable.

Penny’s Big Breakaway is a vibrant and fun 3D platformer with great locomotion, but checkpoint issues and a whole host of bugs make it one that’s a little harder to recommend than I’d hoped. The variety in the stages and the collectibles they contain is impressive though, it’s just a shame that the rest of the package drags down the game as a whole.


Great locomotion
A nice variety of stages
Good collectables
Lovely visuals


Not enough checkpoints to say how often you're sent back to them
Way too many bugs
Levels are a little too long

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Penny's Big Breakaway is a fun 3D platformer with great locomotion, but a whole host of bugs and checkpoint issues spoil the good time.