It almost sounds like an oxymoron, but here it is: Developer Grasshopper Manufacture's punk-rock leader Suda51 has made a casual game for the iPhone and iPad. He has noble intentions for dishing out Frog Minutes, though. It was released in the wee hours last night, to coincide with a Grasshopper benefit for tsunami- and earthquake-ravaged Japan. That's right: Because all proceeds from this game go to the Japanese Red Cross, your lazy double-clicking on the "$0.99 Buy App" button in iTunes can now be classified as altruistic and noble, and you can feel like a saint.
Even if your intentions aren't noble, Frog Minutes still makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience - provided you're in the mood to hunt butterflies and snails, feed them to frogs, and then snatch up those hungry amphibians. The game is completely open-ended, with no plot to speak of, just a lush hand-painted forest scene with mountains in the background, a river up close, and lots and lots of grass. You need to flush out the critters used to feed the frogs from their various hiding spots - more of which are revealed as you snag more frogs - and then quickly drag them onto the frogs as they leap around the landscape. When the frog is full, you tap it to capture it. Seriously, there's nothing more to this game, save for the cheerily proper air stewardess who prompts you on from off-screen with comments like, "Nice job!" and “It looks like you failed.” Well, there's that, and you're given a perkily written educational screen instilling you with trivia on the frog you netted.
The concept couldn't be any simpler, nor could its appeal. "Convert the hectic hours of your day into relaxing Frog Minutes," the game's description reads. And even though Suda51’s involvement had us constantly expecting the frogs to burst into bloody shards that spelled out cryptic puzzles or something, these fears were never validated. This is meant as a simple, childlike diversion - the sort of game that might've been included as a Nintendo DS pack-in to showcase the novelty of touch screens. But it’s fun, it’s cheap, and it’s going to a worthy cause. Fortunately, Suda51 didn’t iPhone this one in.
Mar 30, 2011