I hate Pocket Frogs … because I LOVE Pocket Frogs. I’ve been a hardcore gamer for more than 30 years. There is no reason this adrenaline-starved, so-simple-I’m-not-even-sure-it’s-a-game little freebie title should have me this hooked. But it does.
Pocket Frogs plays like an ambient version of Pokemon. You start off the game with two frogs – a plain green one and an even plainer brown one. The idea is just to collect more frogs. A LOT more – there are currently more than 15,000 unique frogs, most of which are so bright and colorful you wonder if they taste like candy. You do this not by beating them into submission as you would a pokemon, but by hopping around the pond, eating flies and jumping the bones of any and every other frog you encounter.
That’s when you realize Pocket Frogs is actually a breeding simulation. Each frog has three basic traits: its main color, its highlight color, and its breed, which determines what pattern that highlight looks like – a spot on the cheek, a zebra stripe, or in the case of some of the novelty breeds, a snowflake or jack o’lantern face. And if you’re looking to get a particular frog, you have to find (or breed) the right parents and get them to sex it up until the right kid comes out. The more you breed, the more experience points you earn, which attracts new breeds and colors of frog to your pond. And that, of course, enables you to get closer and closer to having a completed “froggydex”.
That alone is strangely compelling, but Pocket Frogs also works hard to keep the player engaged. Requests for a specific frog come in frequently, and you can get an extra experience points bonus for completing particular sets of frogs (for example, a seven-frog rainbow of white-cheeked “Anuras”). Plus, you can use the in-game money you earn from selling your unwanted frogs to purchase new frogs or increasingly exotic items and backgrounds to decorate your various frog holding tanks (this makes them happier as well).
As mentioned, it’s all free. You have the option to pay real money to make certain things happen more swiftly, like growing baby frogs into breed-able adults in seconds instead of minutes, but this is always optional. The only thing Pocket Frogs could do better, really, is fit into its own shoes – storage is a real issue. Each tank you purchase holds only eight frogs, and new tanks get far too expensive far too quickly, so it’s a real challenge to decide which frogs to keep and which to sell. There is a catalog that enables you to repurchase frogs you’ve had before, but the catalog only holds 50 frogs. And when you consider there are 23 main colors, 16 secondary colors, and at least 40 different species (and counting), you can see 50 lousy catalog slots isn’t nearly enough. If Pocket Frogs added in massive storage like Pokemon has, or enabled you to repurchase any previously owned critter instead of just 50 (like Viva Pinata does), this would be the perfect game. Because it’s incredibly close in every other way.
Feb 18, 2011