I mentioned Frog Fractions briefly in my Candy Box write-up, but after the conversations I’ve had since that last Indie Jones article I think Frog Fractions will get some love too if I dedicate some more words to it.
Just like Candy Box, Frog Fractions is free to play in your browser, and you should go do that first before reading on. Only come back once the game has peeled its face off to reveal something completely different beneath.
The introductory meta text that appears on Google is wonderfully misleading – “Welcome to Frog Fractions! You will learn all about Fractions!” – and even the splash screen has a presumably-fake quote from an educational professional. It’s so simple and innocent sounding that you’d be forgiven for expecting this to be an edutainment game for kids. You might learn something from playing Frog Fractions, but it certainly won’t be anything mathematical.
At the start of the game you’re a frog on a lily pond, using your ridiculously long tongue to eat mosquitos and moths before they eat your fruit and cause indignity to your frog-person. Fractions do indeed appear in the place of your vanquished foes, much like floating damage text in an RPG, but these fractions have no connection to anything, as far as I can gather.
Kill a few bugs, defend some fruit and you’re taken to the upgrade screen where you can spend your heard-earned Zorkmids on lock-on targeting, a static-electricity-charged tongue, a voice-modulator, fruit that the insects will find less appetizing, a turtle to grant you mobility, meteorology satellites, etcetera… Some of these upgrades are useful, others are just there either to take the piss, or to hint that things are not exactly what they seem.
I’m not too ashamed to tell you all that this is where I initially got stuck – I upgraded my frog so he was skipping over the top of the pond on a dragon, vanquishing bugs with a static-electric tongue, but I got distracted by the philosophical debate taking place between the For lock-on-targeting and Against lock-on-targeting lobbies. The chatter on twitter was telling me this was a fantastic game that went weird places, but I got too distracted by the dialogue to see where I was actually meant to go. I mean, the key can’t be in the more expensive upgrades because it would take a year of play to unlock those… right?
The game changes subtly again once you’re riding the dragon, becoming a rudimentary bullet-hell shmup. In trying to dodge the bullets flying towards you, you might plunge down beneath the still surface of the pond.
What’s this? All the fruit I couldn’t catch has fallen into the water, and now there’s like a billion fruit down here. I could buy any upgrade with all these – like that dragon-mounted warp drive.
The dragon takes you into space, where you get called a racist by the Arc de Triomphe for your bug-murdering ways, and it only gets weirder from there.
From faux edutainment, to bullet-hell, to court simulation. That’s right, you’re under arrest for breaking into Mars to steal all the fruit… It’s a surreal place to find yourself, and the potential responses are hilarious.
If you manage to talk your way out of it, the game changes again, taking on the form of a text adventure, which is where my amphibian progress halted.
Frog Fractions is absurd and entertaining. It might not be as compulsively compelling as Candy Box, but the extreme genre changes it goes through are reason enough to play on. If you’re Jonesing you’re your next Indie fix and you missed Frog Fractions when it set twitter on fire in October, go try it out… and report back if you get past the text adventure portion and let me know what I’m missing.