Here’s the thing about the App Store: in order to stand out, if your game isn’t a blockbuster from one of the big developers, it better be original. If it’s not so original that iOS review sites can’t describe it without inventing a new language, it better be damn good. If it’s not damn good? Then you’re screwed.
Atomic Frogs from Cocos Games is thankfully at least good. Not damn good, but good enough to keep you amused for as long as you need to get to the front of the queue or finish your sandwich or have a quick bungie jump. Good thing too, because it sure as heck aint original.
Atomic Frogs is a physics puzzler set after a nuclear fallout where an army of frogs have acquired explosive abilities by regularly bathing in radioactive pool. One day, as is wont to happen after the earth gets wiped out, robots steal their supply of toxic water and the frogs must retrieve it by leaping and exploding through multiple levels of puzzlation.
Pull back on your frog for the same elastic launch you’ve seen 100 times before: a dotted line will chart your trajectory, release to launch your frog. Hit or explode near a button on the other side of the leave and your pool will fill up with radioactive water allowing the rest of the frogs to jump in and bathe. Along the way you can explode near those dastardly robots for more stars at the end of the level.
I’ve probably seen way too many of this type of game in my time. There already aliens and birds and trucks doing exactly the same thing on the App Store and Atomic Frogs struggles to differentiate itself from them. It’s truthfully nothing we haven’t seen before, and by that I mean on iOS, it’s unlikely you’ve seen a group of frogs bathing in radioactive sludge in real life. Unless you’re from Manchester.
So it may be derivative, but that’s not to say it’s bad. Far from it. Gameplay is solid and of course, tricky, growing increasingly more frustrating and therefore addictive as the levels get harder. Each of the five frogs has a different power which helps it negotiate the different challenges in each level: exploding stone, melting metal, burning wood, inflating and floating. I wish we got to dissect those in Science class.
The levels where you have to work with each frog, choosing which one to use in different situations is where the gameplay shines and an enjoyable level of strategy comes in to play. Credit goes to the level design which can get pretty tough in the later stages when you have to rely on selecting the correct frog at the correct point for the level, work out which lever or button to push or flip in which order, and still having perfect timing. Choose your weapon before you make your move, successfully traverse the level, and feel big satisfaction.
It also has a colourful, clean look. Animation is good and the frogs themselves are undeniably cute and crazy-looking. The art during the cut scenes is also well-penned and the sound is cool too with jaunty, nicely-produced music.
So while it won’t win any awards for originality, Atomic Frogs does enough to merit recommendation. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing new under the sun anyway, if a game is good, does it matter if it’s been done before? A certain Gameloft certainly have an opinion on that. Cocos, it seems, tend to agree.
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