There goes an old saying that you’ll find a prince if you kiss enough frogs. Boomzap’s Frogs in Love manages to kiss an awful lot of frogs (well, mini-games) and finds itself a pondful of princes. Too bad that the whole package has a bit of a pauper problem.
In Frogs in Love, you play as a tree frog working at a sushi shop in Pali Pond. One day, the most beautiful frog named Jasmine walks in (who is described as having “legs that went on forever”). With the Flower Festival coming up, you naturally would like to dance with her. Copping a princess attitude, however, she rebuffs your advances. Only the frog with the most coins can dance with her, she retorts. What’s an average tree frog in love to do? Get bigger, stronger, gain skills and earn coins to win her heart.
Progress in Frogs in Love comes through earning coins completing mini-games with members of the pond community. Many of them want to give you advice on how to win Jasmine’s heart, and some of the great nuggets include your legs are too spindly or girls like a fat frog. The colourful crew includes Redclaw, the owner of the sushi restaurant, and your rival, Stinkweed, who has been prince of the Flower Festival for the past three years (and also has his eye on Jasmine).
Finally, there’s Lily, a dancer and best friend from childhood (who tells you, “If Jasmine doesn’t appreciate the kind of hard working frog you are, there are others who do.” Wonder what she means by that…)
Each resident has some reason for you to give them some coins to unlock their games, like anteing up for a football tournament or donating to the turtle orphans fund. Every game has three levels of difficulty to conquer at first.
As you hop across each of the game’s five ponds, there are a lot of touches that make the game really sparkle. When you hop on a lily pad, it continues to float forward in the same direction you were travelling. You can stick your tongue out by clicking the mouse. Turtles sometimes pop up, and you can take a ride on their shells. The water ripples beautifully, and there’s a very high level of polish. Even the music – which could have been entirely cheesy – is appropriately understated when needed, and active when the games call for it.
The mini-games are all traditional, but many contain a unique twist. For example, one of them is a Zuma-style game where you spit colored bugs to break chains of three or more. However, the path the bugs follow is bigger than a single screen, so you have to hop around the pond to catch the stream of bugs elsewhere if you can’t eliminate them quickly. Also, remember that you’re a frog! If a bug that looks like a stopwatch flies in, you can eat it to add more time to earn more coins.
There are other great games as well. Some of my favorites: a hidden object game where you have to hop around a large pond space and hit the objects you’re looking for with your tongue; a matching-pair game where you grab a butterfly with your tongue, hop around the pond to find an identical butterfly and spit it to make a match; a restaurant management game where you serve up various bugs to your customers by catching them on a conveyer belt and aim them back at the customer before they get angry and leave. In most of the games, you retain your frogginess and can hop around the screen and use your tongue to grab bonus bugs.
There are 13 distinct games in Frogs in Love. The higher the level of difficulty, the more coins you can potentially earn, which unlocks other levels and finally, the Flower Festival itself. But, with this, Frogs in Love has its Achilles heel. Remember, the way to finish the game is to earn lots of coins. All you need to do is find a game where you can consistently earn loads of coins, and the game ends very quickly. With no extra modes after completing, and a total completion time of about three hours (after realizing how to rack up coins in a hurry), it just doesn’t last.
Boomzap has an unpolished gem in Frogs in Love. The mini-games are clever and fun, and the game does a lot of things right, but ultimately a lack of depth cuts it off at the knees. Hopefully the next time this frog hops into your pond, there will be more to play with.