iPhone App Review: Frog on Ice

iPhone App Review: Frog on Ice

November 16th, 2012 by

If you’ve been hankering for a return to side-scrolling platformers that reward skill and brutally punish failure, than Frog On Ice may be what you’re looking for. It’s a modern, 3D platformer built on the Unity engine that has you guiding Plop across an icy landscape using his tongue to pull him along the ice. Battle snowy monsters, leap across bottomless chasms, and brandish exploding goggles (?!) in your journey to defeat the boss at the end of every level. Naturally your tongue is your primary weapon and tool across all of your travels.

How It Works

Frog On Ice has a nice tutorial level that I would recommend you try. It’s short, clear, and shows you everything you need to know to play the game. In a nutshell though: tap on the screen to lash out your tongue. If  there is an enemy there, your tongue damages it. If there’s no enemy and your tongue hits the ground, you are pulled along the ice to that location. You can also tap and jump in the air, then snap your tongue to pull you where you want to go (a handy technique for getting across a crack in the ice). You travel along to the right-hand side of the screen defeating enemies, gathering coins, and trying not to fall to your death, until you reach the boss.

Each level has a different style of main bad guy and a boss to match. There are also a few power-ups along the way that help you gather coins, double-jump, fly, and of course there are the exploding goggles. I don’t know why they chose goggles to give you the power to explode and kill everything on the screen, but they did and we all have to live with the decision.

Pros and Cons

The game is actually very fun, though it is also rather hard. You can use your coins to buy more lives for Plop and more continues, because once you run out of lives and continues the game is over, and you start back over at the beginning the next time you play. This is how platformers used to be played people, so I don’t want to hear any complaining. When I was your age I had to beat all of Mega-Man’s enemies every time I turned on my NES, and I didn’t have any “coins” to buy more continues with, so consider yourself lucky.

The game is hard, but it’s a good sort of challenge and you rack up coins rather quickly, letting you stockpile lives and continues as much as you like. To play the game all the way through demands a certain time commitment though, so it doesn’t qualify as a “pick up and play” sort of game (since every time you “pick up” you might be starting over at the beginning if the app has stopped in the background).

The graphics from the Unity engine are nice, letting you side-scroll while still giving you some 3D range of motion up and down on the screen. The tongue-movement mechanic is definitely interesting, and believe it or not is actually very intuitive after playing for just a few minutes.

My only complaint is with the unusual placement of the pause  button at the bottom-right side of the screen, rather than somewhere along the top as is typical in most games these days. I have about a 40% chance of hitting that instead of whatever target on the screen I’m truly aiming for, bringing up the pause menu and ruining my “flow”. It’s not a big deal, but it just seems more natural to put the pause button somewhere where it would never interfere with gameplay.

Overall

Frog On Ice is a terrific little action platformer that would actually be suitable for all ages of kids that have the motor skills to understand the mechanics. It’s fun, frivolous, and challenging in a way that’s reminiscent of old-school platformers that started the genre. It’s also a steal at only $0.99.

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