Life is full of epic battles: Apple vs. Microsoft, Sonic vs. Robotnik, Maths vs. Fun and Simon Cowell vs. God. However, I can be sure in saying that no one has prepared you for the much overlooked and incredibly undervalued Frog versus the abominable Stork.
This game is full to the brim with charm and is deceptively difficult. It pits you in a simple pond filled with a chessboard like arrangement of lily pads and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to simply ‘click to move’ your harmless little frog across the pond onto the safe haven that is the yellow, slightly mouldy looking lily pad. While you are manoeuvring your way across the pond one lily pad at a time there will be an ominous Stork who will mirror your every move (for example you move on step left the Stork moves one step right, pretty simple).
Don’t be fooled into thinking this game is ridiculously easy (like I must admit I was) because it managed to make my brain hurt in ways I never knew it could. While you can simply aim to rush your frogs to their safe home, you are tempted by the bonus points that come from collecting items like flies, flowers and stork eggs. Not only are you distracted by the many goodies that the levels have to offer but you are then introduced to a couple of mind destroying lily pads. These are: the ‘slippery leaf’ which you slide across, continuing in whatever direction you were travelling in and the aptly named ‘leaf with a hole in it’ which resets the frog or the stork to their respective starting lily pad. The Stork is a seriously ominous baby carrying bird, especially when it is able to move 2 spaces at a time – add to that the fact that if it gets to your flies or flowers you lose points. Finally there is the Fat Frog which is a lovely brown colour and cannot be moved or selected; instead he has to be moved by a green frog pushing him in the right direction. Add all of those variables together and you end up with quite the pretty and child friendly challenge.
Frogs vs. Storks takes simplicity to a whole new level in the fact that it has no back story (not even a ridiculous one like Super Meat Boy has) and that there is no real difference in each level, just a new frog themed riddle to solve. The beauty of this game is really in the gameplay itself and I’m not referring to the click to move system that the game works on. What really impressed me was that all I was doing was playing myself in a mirror image Stork form. There is no A.I or difficulty to select in this game, only your Stork-shaped alter-ego.
Graphically it’s pleasing and has that cartoon like charm that is in keeping with the style of game you are playing. While I have given the game a low graphic and audio score that is because it is never going to be Crysis 2 and that is not what casual gaming is about. This game is a clever take on a puzzle game as it pits you against yourself with a number of twists and variables to compete with that leave you smashing your head against the desk and mourning the loss of many a frog.
I must admit that there are a few things I would change. Firstly, I love the idea of having a Fat Frog and just wish they took that further by adding one or two other different Frogs into the mix, maybe one that moves two spaces like the upgraded Stork. Secondly, the idea of a timer and having to collect eggs etc for a high score all feels relatively pointless and hollow as there are neither any real rewards for doing so, nor any real penalties for taking your time. Finally I cannot believe there is no worldwide leaderboard of some kind, because isn’t that what the casual puzzle game is all about? These are only small things I would change and the game is by no means bad without them.
All in all the simplicity and charm that the game has is infectious and you will find yourself playing it for hours without even realising it (but you certainly won’t be playing it for weeks, more like days). I wouldn’t say the game is phenomenal or anything really special for that matter, in fact I’d say its simply pleasing. It fills a gap where you may be finding yourself getting bored with other more complicated games. Frogs vs. Storks costs about the same as a lily pad and for that reason is well worth the tiny investment if your looking for a game to challenge yourself when not in the mood for a fully blown budget buster of a game.