Review: Frogs vs Storks – Puzzles Defy You Down in the Bayou

Developer Summary

In Frogs vs. Storks you play with little frogs that make a good and peaceful living in their beautiful pond. But, with the arrival of storks, the pond became a dangerous place to live! Storks are everywhere now just waiting for their chance to eat the frogs!
Outsmart evil storks and once again make the pond a peaceful place to live in Frogs vs. Storks.

What We Think

From Cateia Games, makers of Kaptain Brawe comes a new way to tear it up in the swamp.

The Life Amphibia

Fact: Storks are lovable flying birds that bring new born babies to expectant mothers.

Truer fact: Storks are genetically engineered to commit mass amphibicide and are feared harbingers of death towards all frog kind.

Okay…so Frogs Vs. Storks doesn’t actually present itself as some kind of swampland slaughter-fest. What it does do however is combine tried and true old-school puzzle mechanics with mounting difficulty levels and just enough tweaks and turns to keep you on your webbed toes. The real question though, did this game make me want to save the wetlands… or just let them dry up?

I don't want that thing anywhere near my baby...

On Golden Pond

As stated earlier this game doesn’t come packaged with any kind of angst, death or destruction. What you’ll find in Frogs Vs Storks, is a cutesy, colourful and a well-realized artistic vision that more plays out like an episode of Looney Tunes… except with no violence and no racist Southerners.

The scenery is simple, you play in a checkerboard like swamp, with varying colors of lily-pads placed around the proverbial “board”. The scenery never really changes, but the music, sound effects and characters are crafted with such an elegant charm that you never really get bored with the environment.

The characters (or checkers) are admirably drawn as well, and while there really only seemed to be 3 types of creatures inhabiting this habitat (frogs… fat frogs, and storks), each is given their own mini-set of animations which keep the screen from every feeling dead or dull. Some additional animations could have been added to give the game more “character”, but what has been implemented is pleasant and only helps to add to the games overall appearance.

The Music and sound-effects are also incredibly effective and well-woven into the games fabric. A variety of tracks help to create an oddly complacent and relaxing swamp atmosphere despite the fact that you’re currently trying to escape death at the beak of a monster thrice your size. It’s kind of like pumping oxygen into an airplane that’s plummeting towards the earth. Adding to the overall charm of the game are Looney Tunes-like flourishes of French horn whenever you happen to lose a frog. Little touches like that really help to bring the video and audio elements to a healthy unity.

Pickups and treasures are also lovingly crafted which helps to make it feel like no lily-pad was left unturned. There aren’t many weaknesses in the overall presentation.

Death In Reverse

Frogs Vs. Storks feels like it has its puzzle roots in just enough different soil patche,s as well as sprinkling in its own seeds of creativity to ultimately feel like a unique specimen, though if you look hard enough the similarities are slightly noticeable. This is in no way a bad thing…you can pretty much say the same about everything in evolution.

First the main mechanics: this game plays like a game of checkers in which all of your pieces have been crowned king. All of your (initial) characters can move in any direction you tell them to, except for diagonally, which is really the only way in which it’s NOT like checkers. The board itself is laid out like checkerboard, however the with the inclusion of certain hurdles or impediments that can be randomly strewn about the “board” I couldn’t help but feel a kind of “snakes and ladders” aura about the entire thing. To win each round you simply need to get your frog or frogs from pad green to pad yellow.

Where the game handles itself with a fair amount of originality is in how your opponent is presented to you. Unlike checkers (or many other board games that I can recall for that matter) the opponent (or storks) can only move in the exact opposite direction of your most recent move (you move one space left, he moves one space right), in essence you are only playing against yourself (was it Shun Tzu who said that, maybe Freud…). Though it may come across as overtly simple to always know exactly where your opponent is going to move, that very same thought process can lull you into a false sense of security.

Why Frogger left for the safety of the highway.

Since the game tracks how many moves you make within any round, you’ll need to be meticulous in to how you want your frog (or frogs) to advance as you will need to be crafty to ensure that you don’t accidentally find yourself cornered. Though the games training stages are very straight forward and simple, many devices and mechanics get implemented in later stages that create incredibly intricate and downright difficult scenarios where each move you make needs to be calculated into a string of moves ahead. Spend too long moving one frog around and a forgotten frog may fall victim as you carelessly bound from pad to pad, and in this game no frog gets left behind.

As well you can pick up swamp treasures (mosquitoes and such) to earn high scores, conversely, the storks can also pick up these same treasures which will result in you losing points. Trying to achieve maximum scores on each level can be ridiculously difficult, but never impossible. There’s something quite liberating, yet somehow so damning in realizing that every level will only play out based on the movements you make. Though at times I found levels to be frustrating, it was only due to my own crapulence, and this only strengthened my resolve to complete each level with a maximum score. There are few games that push me to that kind of desired achievement.

Chillin in the pad…s

Frogs Vs. Storks is a perfect example of how a game doesn’t need to be “epic” to be engrossing or entertaining. There’s pretty much no story or character development to be had here. If you want a prologue feel free to watch The BBC’s planet earth, I’m sure there’s an episode that will help to explain the whole situation for you.

I personally love the idea that I’m only “playing against myself”, and in no way do I see this game needing a multi-player component or realistic physics engine or anything else that is demanded of a game now-a-days. I haven’t had this much fun with a puzzle game since Tetris.

With beautiful visuals, ambient and elegant music / sound effects, and a random level generator which pretty much allows you to experience the game a-new over and over, I’d gladly pay the miniscule $5 price tag to help save these wetlands.

Oh and it’s pretty much a perfect iPhone or iPad game… I tried desperately not to say ILily-pad game.

Frogs vs Storks is available at Cateia Games for USD $4.99

[xrr rating=”4.5/5″]