As consumers, we prefer our video games to work. In 2014 we had AAA titles release with no faces, unreliable always-on servers, and were forced to put faith in the dreaded words “day one patch”. Then again, there are games out there that embrace absurd glitches and questionable gameplay, like Goat Simulator, Octodad, or Sportsfriends.
Welcome to the town of Swindon, where you control one amazing frog on his journey to the moon. This journey also consists of bizarre cosplay, throwing yourself down flights of stairs, launching out of cannons, racing RC cars, bouncing on to floating pink castles, and exploring all that Swindon has to offer. Oh, and farts. Lots and lots of farts.
“I had absolutely no idea what my objective was, but that was the point.”
Amazing Frog? is an open-world sandbox game that allows players to set their own challenges. In my opening moments I managed to shoot myself out of a cannon on to a parked car, failed to slam dunk a basketball, and discovered a time-traveling port-o-john that resembled a Tardis from Dr. Who. I had to hunt down a crowbar at night to access the sewers, stumbled upon an OUYA game station, and discovered a giant snowman head to wear around Swindon for what appeared to be no reason at all. I had absolutely no idea what my objective was, but that was the point.
Rather than going from point A to B, I was left to my own devices; or sometimes our own devices, thanks to local split-screen co-op. Having Swindon all to myself was awesome, but adding in another player to chase down with a crossbrow, or shove in to exploding barrels, cranked up the replay value tremendously. There’s even a dedicated 2-4 player Versus mode where frogs can fight for control of a crown, or shoot each other with laser guns in a Last Man Standing deathmatch, but it didn’t keep our attention very long. After an hour or so it was back to the open-world model of real-life Swindon to dress like a Thundercat and figure out how to get my RC car off the roof.
Graphically, Amazing Frog? exists somewhere between a PSone and PS2 game, but that’s all part of its charm. Graphics never make a game, and I never found its dated visuals to be a setback while playing. If anything, the comical presentation of the amazing frog made it more memorable and iconic, and the fact that FAYJU isn’t gunning for a serious approach helps sell the game as just a fun, crazy experience.
There also isn’t much of a soundtrack, as the only sounds you’ll hear are the wet slaps of your webbed feet, or the catchy theme song that blasts from nearby boomboxes. While I’d like to have some sort of subtle background song, the slapping of Frog’s feet had us cracking up to the point of being in tears.
“The game is as brilliant as you make it…”
The gameplay is accessible, but may take you a few minutes to get used to. Amazing Frog easily cripples when he comes in to contact with walls, and since you don’t actually land your jumps, platforming feels more like kicking a dead frog from dumpster to dumpster–not that I actually know what that’s like, I promise. Pressing jump boosts him in the air, causing his legs give out immediately until he splats on the ground. Similar to Goat Simulator, going limp allows you to control your direction in midair to chain trampoline jumps, or nail that precise landing on top of a giant frog-pug statue. While grounded, you can hold jump and twitch him along the road, or hop back to your feet and continue blowing up cars with an assault rifle while dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda.
Speaking of costumes, there are tons to choose from, like mock versions of the Ninja Turtles, Captain America, Jack Skellington, Darth Vader, James Bond, or even the game’s developers. The amount of content inside of Amazing Frog?: The Swindon Space Program is pretty astounding, but there’s no doubt that its odd gameplay and seemingly pointless objectives are going to turn some folks away. I’m definitely not one of them, though.
I loved Amazing Frog?, even while getting stuck on walls, glitching in to toilets, or being underwhelmed by its versus offerings (not that they were bad, but they didn’t hold our attention like the open world did.). It’s lighthearted, hilarious, and I could make my own absurd objectives like trying to dunk a basketball from the roof of a parking garage, or collecting all of the television sets scattered about Swindon. Even if I only had 20 minutes to spare, there was plenty of fun to be had in the open world.
If you own an OUYA, chances are you already own Amazing Frog? since it’s one of their premier games. Developer FAYJU have also began working on an Amazing Frog? experience for PC/Mac through Steam’s Early Access program, but if the user comments are anything to go by, the OUYA version still has the most content.
The game is as brilliant as you make it, and if you’re in to crazy sandbox titles, flatulent frogs, or absurd local co-op games with accessible gameplay, Amazing Frog? should definitely be on your must-play list. It’s one of the many reasons to own an OUYA, and a game that will always be in my rotation if I have company over for local gaming sessions. Amazing Frog? will take you to the moon and back, warts and all.
Recommended for fans of: Goat Simulator, local co-op games, open world antics, something different.
*This review is based on the most recent update for Amazing Frog? The Swindon Space Program on the OUYA console (ver. 1.5 UFO). It does not include impressions of the Early Access release on Steam.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling news, reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist, Baltimore native, and an on again/off again WoW player that blasphemously favors consoles over PC. As a Marylander, he naturally puts Old Bay on everything and loves the Orioles. Contact him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.