Pocket Frogs Review

Like frogs? Like digital pets? Then chances are you’ll enjoy Pocket Frogs. It’s a pretty simple set-up with no story to speak of, and the premise is simply that you have digital frogs in your pocket.

After you get past the mandatory account sign-up (it is a free app after all), play begins with your two starter frogs hopping around in their habitat. You can tap on a frog to read its info and stats, move it from place to place, give it potions to boost its Happiness, or bring it to the pond. At the pond you can tap on lily pads to make the frogs jump across the dragonflies which are flying around, and thus eat them. Feeding the frogs raises their Happiness meter, and hopping them around also “tames” them, allowing you to breed them with any frogs you may run across. The aim seems to be maintaining the Happiness of the frogs. Aside from feeding, you can do this by playing two mini games: a race, or a puzzle. Your success in the races depends on your frog’s Happiness, so make sure to keep him fed before competing. The puzzle I found to be impossibly difficult, and not really much fun as a result.

The point of the app is mating your frogs with others to create new breeds, to add them to your catalog and increase your net number of frogs. You can earn trophies for success in taming and breeding your frogs. Your catalog of frogs grows as you blend them, and there is a status meter to show what percentage of possible breed options you have achieved. Collecting frogs earns you trophies. In game, you can also earn coins, stamps and potions, all used to increase your frogs’ quality of life. You start off with a certain number of coins, and they are actually required if you want to breed your frogs. The items you can purchase are simple decorations for the habitats, or food, or new backgrounds.

This app is cute, and I do like frogs, so I was happy to try it out. There is something strangely soothing about hopping the frogs around their pond, and you can’t help but feel a thrill when you create a new breed. The frogs themselves are very cute, and it’s relaxing to watch them hop around.

However, I have more than a few issues with it. The game only has one physical template for the frogs (cute as it may be), so your options are really a difference between colour gradients, and the creative names the game designers came up with. So if you’re hoping to see some Pokemon-style action and breed new and amazing frog varieties, you will be disappointed. When you “buy” items for your frogs you are forced to spend 30 minutes real time waiting for them to download, unless you spend stamps to expedite the shipping. It’s a frustrating feature which adds nothing to the game.

And my final complaint is a big one: the game requires network access at all time. My metric for a lot of game-type apps will be whether or not I can play them while commuting, and Pocket Frogs cannot be played on the subway, or in areas with low signal. After trying unsuccessfully to connect a few times I’ve had enough. The cuteness of the frogs is outweighed by the demands of the app.

Herman the Hermit Review

Herman the Hermit Review

Sep 6, 2011

At first glance, I thought that I was really going to enjoy Herman the Hermit. After all, the gameplay bears a lot of resemblance to other platform jumping/auto-running games that I’ve played, and I’ve always enjoyed those. But Herman the Hermit gets a lot wrong, and it doesn’t waste any time in showing you its ugly side.

Herman the Hermit features the titular character in a race against time. As strange as it may seem, his goal is to leap across a series of floating platforms as he collects power-ups and special trophy items. As the clock slowly ticks down to zero, the only way to build up time is to jump far enough to skip several platforms, causing butterflies to fly into the clock and adding extra seconds while raising the score multiplier. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the basic premise.

Controlling Herman is accomplished by swiping in the direction you want him to go. An upward swipe causes him to jump up high while tapping causes him to make short, quick leaps. It’s important to understand the distinction between movements because platforms can show up anywhere on the screen and the slightest wrong gesture will send Herman tumbling into the void. Advanced maneuvers earn you a higher score, but if you fall, you’ll lose your score multiplier along with precious time. Once the clock runs out, game over.

The problem with the controls is that they are terribly inaccurate. It takes a lot of finesse to get Herman going in the direction you want him to go, and even then, it’s a sketchy proposition. Sometimes, Herman just dives off the edge of a platform rather than leaping across the gap, or going in the complete opposite direction you need him to go. It’s very finicky and works against you, most of time.

Even if you become proficient enough with the controls to keep the game going, there’s not a lot of substance to keep it interesting. It quickly becomes an endurance test as you wonder, “Just how much more of this can I take?” Collecting power-ups, trophies and other items just becomes dull and tedious before very long. Other problems include long loading times and annoying background music. The technical problems ruin this game, but even without them, it’s just not a lot of fun.

In the game’s favor are the charming visuals and subtle, witty attempts at humor to keep it light-hearted and funny. From the names of achievements and trophies to the animation sequences when Herman dons a jetpack or rides the back of a rocket for several seconds, the game does its best to put a smile on your face. If only the rest of the game could provide as much fun and entertainment, it would be a much better experience. Instead, you’re left with a frustrating, boring game that you won’t want to play for very long.