There have been many epic battles in gaming history between bitter adversaries, Superman Vs. Darkseid, Predator Vs. Aliens, Hulk Vs. The Abomination, but never has such a battle been depicted and never have such enemies fought so fiercely as Frogs Vs. Storks. Not quite the same ring to it as the other versus battles admittedly, but this is a very playable and frustratingly addictive puzzler from those folks at Cateia Games who seem to have the almost Father Christmas-like ability to deliver a game literally overnight.
The pond was once a peaceful place, frogs leapt and languished on lily-pads, passing the day in a blissful sort of way. Until one day, the storks arrived. Not ordinary storks mind you, but evil ones (there’s nothing worse than an evil stork, trust me!) The poor frogs now have a daily fight for survival on their hands, or feet, or whatever it is they have at the end of their limbs. Basically, your goal is to guide your frog across the pond, via the lily-pads, without getting caught and eaten by the stork, which in itself sounds relatively easy, but that wouldn’t make much of game, would it! No, of course not, so for every move you make, the stork mirrors it.
You start with a tutorial, which guides you through the controls, which are mouse based. Your little green frog can only move one lily-pad at a time, either up, down, left or right. Get your frog to the yellow coloured lily-pad at the opposite end of the pond and you’ve won the round: a bit like Frogger, but much more difficult. As I said, the storks mirror your movements so this can lead to moments when, if you’re not careful, you can become trapped between a stork and a wet-place (I’m getting good at these).
As you progress through the levels different objects appear on lily-pads, these increase your score and are made up of items such as flies, mosquitoes, dragon flies, pond flowers and lotus flowers. Land on these and you can score anything from five points to fifteen. However, the storks also find these objects very tasty so careful planning of movement is necessary to help your frog avoid the storks, collect the food and make the storks avoid the food as well. Occasionally, a stork will lay an egg, these can also be eaten by your frog and again will add to the score. If your really lucky, and you have progressed far enough into the game, a stork will lay the golden egg, which can be eaten for a whopping twenty points. Finish the round with the maximum score for each level and you can unlock one of five different achievements, unlock them all and complete all forty-odd levels to become the king of the pond.
What I liked about Frogs Vs. Storks is that just when you are getting used to the gameplay and you’re beginning to feel like you can easily outsmart the stupid storks, the game throws a bit of a curve ball at you. If you land on a lily-pad with a hole in it you fall through and have to start back at your spawn point again. Similarly, if you land on a lily-pad that’s covered in water, then you slip over that pad to land on the one beyond. Although they don’t sound that bad, the same thing can happen to the storks, so essentially if you hit a pad with a hole and you spawn back to your start position, which happens to be occupied by a stork, then it’s game over and you have to start the round again. But it doesn’t end there, those clever developers wouldn’t want you to have too much of an easy life, so they have added one or two extras.
In some levels, there are two storks instead of just the one. They both mirror your moves, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they can also move twice the distance. You also get the chance to control up to four frogs at a time (believe me after a few rounds the pond rapidly becomes a crowded place). If you can manage to keep your wits about you and delve deeper into the game a fat brown frog appears. This poor lad can’t hop on his own (presumably too many burgers with flies! Get it?) and he must be pushed by your frog, but you can only push one at a time. Get a few of these, two storks and a handful of frogs and you really need to think about your next move very carefully.
The graphics and animations are simple, big but colourful and do the job adequately. However, don’t be fooled by their simplistic look and feel, they hide a very clever game. A Cajun, duelling-banjos-type sound track plays in the background together with the sound effects of frogs, flies and other swampy-type noises. They are pretty good and add to the fun, puzzler feel to the game. The obvious selling point is the quality of the puzzles, although games like this can become very boring very quickly, Frogs Vs. Storks manages to keep the gamer entertained enough to want to keep going. Although the game can be completed relatively quickly, to unlock the various achievements requires a bit more thought and strategic planning.
If you like puzzle games then this is a good buy for you. It’s fairly cheap (about £6 on Gamersgate), it doesn’t require the latest gaming rig to run it, it’s good fun and will keep you entertained for a good few hours. It’s great for kids and is a good kick off for them into the world of PC games, without having to let them run around and murder all and sundry. Definitely worth a look at, it will drive you hopping mad! (see what I did there!)
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