Tag Archives: Flash

The versatile, grandiloquent mix that is Frog Fractions

gd final thoughts on frog fractions

Look, I took a genuine stab at Frog Fractions back when it was all anyone on the Internet with a Twitter account or blog-posting machine could talk about. It was spoken about loudly and in enthusiastic tones, with the insistence that it was more than met the eye. That it harbored some surprising secrets beneath its initial educational slant. I got as far as the text-based adventure game, getting stuck in one of the three rooms and unsure of how to proceed. Which is a shame, seeing as there wasn’t much more to go after that. Anyways, I can now say I’ve seen it all, even if I don’t understand it all.

I’ll do my best. Frog Fractions is a browser game developed by Twinbeard Studios, a company composed primarily of founder Jim Crawford, released to the innocent and unaware public in 2012. A quick glance at it reveals it, more or less, as a spoof of the edutainment game genre, of which ones from my past that I absolutely ate up were Number Munchers and Oregon Trail. Y’know, interactive things that taught you smart stuff as you went. In this game, the player begins by controlling a frog who eats bugs to stop them from destroying fruit. After each successful round, the player can then spend points on upgrades to improve the frog’s abilities, and these upgrades range dramatically and include a back-and-forth dialogue over the merits of auto lock-on versus straight tonguing it. In fact, Frog Fractions does not actually teach the player anything about fractions except for the fact that the player’s score, which is seemingly inconsequential, is given in fractions.

If you’ve not gotten around to playing Frog Fractions and that hodgepodge of a summary job above piqued your interest, by all means, stop reading this post and go play it. Because I will now be moving into “meets more than the eye” territory, and boy oh boy is it bonkers. Yeah, totally nuts.

Okay. Buckle up, readers. Remember those upgrades? Well, after you collect enough fruit, you can eventually purchase a warp drive, which allows the frog to ride a dragon through an asteroid field to Bug Mars. That’s the planet Mars now run completely by bugs. Before you get there, you have to do battle with an alien robot squid that is reminiscent of a bullet hell shoot ’em up, like R-Type. After this, you go to court and must answer some multiple choice questions in order to obtain a working visa. Then it’s back to what you already know, eating flies and protecting fruit, except the bullet hell aspect is back; however, this time, you can dip under the water to escape playing any more “traditional” Frog Fractions and instead learn some totally fake history about how the sport of boxing came to be. After this relaxing maze, the frog activates a spaceship and must maneuver through a text adventure game to return to Bug Mars. Last time, this is where I gave up. Upon completing this, you are given some fake-as-fake-gets credits, which are quickly followed up by an impossible-to-play mockery of Dance Dance Revolution as you run for…president. No matter how good or bad your fancy footwork is, you’ll acquire the role of presidency of Bug Mars. Then you have to do a business simulator that is all about insect porn. Once that is done, you get the real credits, which features heavy metal music and pictures of bugs doing the nasty with their inappropriate bits pixelated.


As you can see, Frog Fractions is more than just a spoof of edutainment titles from our nostalgia-driven days. It spoofs a number of genres, and stacks them one after the other, in ways that seemingly don’t make sense. Some worked for me, and some didn’t, but it’s the not knowing what comes next aspect that really propelled me forward this time around. The wackiness and sharp turns are equally enjoyable, especially if you truly came to this hoping to experience some good ol’ fashioned fun with fractions.

I’m glad that I finally sat down and saw Frog Fractions through to its conclusion. Despite the subject at hand, I actually enjoyed the insect pornography simulator mini-game. Though I’m glad I won’t have to hear that frog “slurping” up those flies ever again; it’s the sort of sound effect that lodges itself in your brain and makes you shake your head instantly upon hearing it. All that said, I’m ready for Frog Fractions 2. Whatever it is. Perhaps it’s already out there and I played it, but I kind of doubt that. My closest guess is…this.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #26 – Frog Fractions

2016 gd games completed frog fractions flash

Fractional scoring
Leads to unconventional
Journey to Bug Mars

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #21 – Stains and the Giant

2016 gd games completed stains and the giant

Island to island
To find scepter, fix portal
Stains is sad dog name

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Room 11: Xmas Tree will challenge your Christmas clicking skills

gd xmas tree final thoughts

I don’t believe I’ve played any other “escape the room” games from Ichima’s Room series, which is not to be confused with The Room, a puzzle game series on mobile phones, though I’ve definitely played ones similar to the style and complexity of its logic puzzles. Such as Find 10 Yellow Cupcakes and Polar Escape. Basically, you are trapped in a confined room or house, with the main goal of getting out.

For Room 11: Xmas Tree, the tease of seeing a Christmas tree decorated with colorful balls just outside the window is enough to motivate me to make my escape and get up close and personal with it. Standing in your way are a number of obscure, locked boxes and doors. You can gather some items along the way which may help you get more items, but the bulk of puzzles require some head scratching and logic-based answers. There’s no whacky side quest to configure a key from bent chicken wire and heated up using the flaming breath of a dragon you found via a hidden hole behind the cupboard, which only revealed itself by knocking to the same tune played by a discovered music box. It’s all about seeing a pattern of numbers, colors, or symbols, and later applying to something else.

Honestly, I can think of only a handful of games that required me to take notes as I played. There was Fez, for sure. Way, way back in the day, I think I scribbled down where some treasure chests were for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but other than that, most games give you everything you need. Especially modern titles. Need a passcode for a locked door? Pick up a scrap of paper and it’s added to your inventory of passcodes, ready to be automatically used on the door without you actually having to read it or memorize it. There was a moment in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots‘s later act that asked Old Snake to remember some numbers, and I actually assumed the game would do it for me, so it surprised me when I was told to input them and didn’t actually remember; thankfully, the game moved forward nonetheless.

Well, these tiny escape games do not hold your hand. Room 11: Xmas Tree saw me jotting down everything I came in contact with that was not immediately evident. I have things like MDUDMMU and OOO8OO88O hastily written down like some madman’s manifesto, but it’s all a necessity when you are jumping from one complicated puzzle to another and can’t keep everything clear in your headspace. I figured a few out on my own, but the majority required a lot of back-and-forthing with my notebook to figure out.

I found a YouTube walkthrough of Room 11: Xmas Tree that finished the thing in just under five minutes, but it took me much longer to breathe fresh winter air. That’s because, right from the start, I simply went screen by screen, clicking on every single element until I got no more cryptic clues or Christmas ball ornaments. Then I had to begin to review my notes and figure out how each clue applied to everything else, which often would give me another item to use or more puzzle clues. I’m okay with taking my time, as adding a countdown clock or something like that would really prove too frustrating. Though a soft, soothing soundtrack, not necessarily related to Christmas, would have gone a long way here.

Think you’re up to the challenge? Well, grab a pen and notepad, then head on over here to start your deducing and click-click-clicking.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #60 – Room 11: Xmas Tree

2015 games completed gd room11 xmas tree capture

Christmas is outside
Click everything, in order
To solve, be merry

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Don’t worry, everyone, for I found all 10 yellow cupcakes

find 10 yellow cupcakes capture

I have a bunch of Grinding Down posts in the work, all in different shapes of completion and on pretty diversified topics, such as marbles, sneaking around and stabbing tourists, and battling monsters that grow stronger ever turn, but I’m not really feeling motivated to write about any of them at the moment. Here’s my rule–don’t force your writing. Write when you are inspired or when you just can’t stop typing, when the ideas in your head are bouncing around, gasping for air. When it is fun and not a hassle. So, instead of churning out words and phrases I feel no connection to at the given moment, I’ll wax on a bit about a little Flash distraction I stumbled across recently called Find 10 Yellow Cupcakes, playable in your browser over here.

In Find 10 Yellow Cupcakes, you must do just that. It follows the same logic behind Escape the Barn. It’s an “escape the room” style point-and-click adventure game, with the twist being that, in order to escape this rather calm, if barely furnished home of yours, you must first gather up ten yellow cupcakes. For who, you surely ask? I don’t know. Let’s say it is either aliens or really picky friends, as they will not stoop low enough to eat green cupcakes. Anyways, eight of these cupcakes are hidden throughout the house, and there’s some item-driven puzzling involved to get the last two into your collection, but you’ll find these cupcakes by clicking on things, opening drawers and doors, and entering in passcodes to breach security locks.

You might think finding ten yellow cupcakes is…a piece of cake. ::rimshot:: I’m here to tell you otherwise. Allow me to share with y’all some cupcake-unearthing tips. Remember to interact with everything that looks interactive, like light switches or curtains or even the drain in the sink. Also, in order to use an item, click on it in your inventory and then click on the “About Item” button to see if up close and use other items on it. Lastly, don’t forget, you only care about yellow cupcakes; if you come into possession of a cupcake of a different color, munch away.

Find 10 Yellow Cupcakes is a short, tasty bit of pointing and clicking and deducing, with a minimalistic look and sound design. That’s fine. I wasn’t looking for much here, but once I began gathering cupcakes, the tug to collect them all pulled me along, even when I got stuck over the last two cupcakes. Granted, I knew what I needed to do, but struggled with the game’s interface to get the job done. You also don’t get much feedback or resolution once you find all ten yellow cupcakes and hightail it outside, other than a “hey, congrats, d00d” image. Still, much like a cupcake is all you need when you’re hungering for something sweet, but not too much, MayMay’s latest game satisfied me until dinner. That said, I don’t consider this big enough of an experience to add it to my games I completed in 2015 list.

The Half-hour Hitbox: April 2014

april 2014 half-hour hitbox

Well, this turned into a terrible month, and so I haven’t been writing about games a lot here these last few days, but I still continued to add to this thing, like a man who pokes a fire looking for it to grow, to spread. And spread it has, so here are some short paragraphs about the games I’ve played for a bit, as well as the ones I’ve played for a good while and just haven’t gotten around to giving them their fancy own blog posts. All in due time, or possibly never again; I really can’t say right now.

Line ’em up, knock ’em down.

The Everloom


When does a dream become a nightmare? Is it when you can’t escape it? The Everloom is a minimalistic adventure game by Lucas Paakh that dances around these questions while guiding the player through a realm where imagination runs wild. It’s basically fetch quest after fetch quest, and I’d easily dismiss it as flat boring gameplay-wise, but it’s absolutely gorgeous to both look at and listen to. The pixel graphics are crisp and colorful, with some amazing parallax scrolling effects when moving throughout the forest section. Some bizarre characters and outcomes, too.

Where Is My Beard?

where is my beard capture

A strange and cute little Flash physics-based puzzle game. Man, that was a mouthful. Where Is My Beard? tasks you with rolling a bearded face–also known as a decapitated head–into non-bearded face-shapes to decorate them with facial hair. Sometimes this involves building a bridge across a gap and other times involves playing with gravity just right to that the ball hits every single target. There are 20 levels in total, and only two really roadblocked me for a bit; thankfully, when you refresh the level, all the pieces you put down remain in place, so you can tinker with placement and keep trying things without having to rebuild your schematic from scratch. It’s got a fun art style á la The Binding of Isaac. Oh, and watch out for the crabs…

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

hitbox castle of illusion

A PlayStation Plus freebie for April 2014 and, from what I’ve played so far, a walk in the park. Granted, I only did the first world and am now in the toy-themed levels, but it’s a fairly mundane platformer, and yes, there’s irony there, given that it is set in a fantasy land and magical castle. You walk left and right, you jump on enemies to kill them, you collect things, you throw projectiles, and the bosses all follow a simple pattern. I love me some Disney, but this is just a little too tame for me, though it’s nice that the game came packaged with the original Genesis title as well.



A freebie on the ol’ Xbox 360 this month for the Games With Gold campaign. Deadlight is a mix of Limbo and Shadow Complex, but with zombies–also called shadows–and more of a focus on puzzle platforming and avoiding combat when possible. I haven’t gotten too far, and so far, it’s okay. I’d probably be more impressed if I haven’t read most of The Walking Dead comics–all of volume one–and followed the show so closely, as they are pretty similar in both looks and story-telling. Also, the main character’s jumping is really clunky, and that’s something you want to make sure is right in your platforming game, that jumping to platforms feels smooth.

Disney Magical World


I’ve definitely got a bigger post in the works for this Animal Crossing: New Leaf-wannabe and still own individualistic collectathon brimming with classic Disney characters and gimmicks. Not going to say anymore other than it has surprised me, and it’s kind of what I need right now in my life: a solid bit of distraction that does not make me work too hard to progress.

Metal Gear Solid

ps1 metal-gear-solid

Yup, my journey through all of the Metal Gear games continues, and I beat Metal Gear Solid over a couple of sittings, taking around 11 hours or so. As you might expect, I have many things to say about this one and Solid Snake and the use of FMV and remembering locations differently, meaning we’ll leave it for another day. Next on the list is…VR Missions, which I don’t expect to be very exciting, though I do hope they offer more of a challenge than the n00b-friendly ten in Metal Gear Solid‘s main menu. I wonder if I’ll be able to do ’em all.

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures, Episode 3: Muzzled!


Not really picking up where the last episode ended, Wallace and Gromit meet Monty Muzzle, who comes to town to try and raise money for a dog shelter. Unfortunately, this mustached man has ulterior motives, and it falls upon Wallace and Gromit to save some dogs and get the townspeople’s money back before Monty can slink away. What follows is more of the same single item-only puzzles and funny dialogue. I looked up a solution or two, but enjoyed everything regardless, especially the idea of a fish and chips-flavored pie. Again, this episode ends on a big cliffhanger, one I really hope doesn’t get dropped as we move into the final act of this grand adventure.

The Half-hour Hitbox is a new monthly feature for Grinding Down, covering a handful of videogames that I’ve only gotten to play for less than an hour so far. My hopes in doing this is to remind myself that I played a wee bit of these games at one time or another, and I should hop back into them, if I liked that first bite.


A mysterious hatch leads to trouble in BNKR

bnkr game final thoughts

I’m attracted to games with strange names or, at the very least, strangely written names. For instance, ^_^XIII, Viewtiful Joe, and Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder. Some quick complete transparency though: I’ve never played that last title, but just the sound of it alone, the way it rolls off your tongue and hangs in the air like some glowing, ethereal angel, has me curious. But yeah, if your game’s title is non-traditional and a bit bizarre, then you already have my attention, which is really helpful when sorting through game jam lists, too. And all that is just to slip into talking about BNKR, a point-and-click game by Piter Games not from Philip K. Dick and not from some recent jam, but just out there, waiting for you to devour.

Here’s the deal: the world was once populated by humans, but now only androids roam the bereft towns and buildings, constantly searching for fuel vital for survival. One day, a hatch opens, demanding whatever lies beneath it to be explored. You play as an unnamed–yet numbered–android with a digitalized male voice who goes down the ladder to see if there is anything worth salvaging.

Not counting the first hub area, which is a small, closed off town in the form of an overhead map with a few buildings to explore, most of BNKR is played from first person perspective. Er, I mean…first android perspective. Thank you, thank you. No, please, I’m happy to sign autographs. Anyways, you can click to move from scene to scene or interact with your surroundings and items in the inventory. A changing cursor alerts you if there’s something worth investigating. And that’s it gameplay-wise, which is fine, as it’s very short, though I’ll admit it took me much longer than probably others to complete it as I got stuck on two less-than-clear puzzles. Spoiler: you can find the third piece of mirror glass hidden between a desk’s drawers, as well as the other half of the broken key in a vent near the ceiling out in the main hallway. There, that should help greatly.

BNKR is a beautiful, desolate world. Also: very gray. You wouldn’t be wrong to immediately think of Machinarium or Primordia immediately, to compare in looks. There’s some light narration atop some striking artwork, and the voice of the robot you control is both human and not, which only helped draw me in more. It’s a strange combination of familiar and foreign, with the robot’s comments on things like levers and desks and photos of once-living humans little puzzles themselves. You can tell that the robot is a little sad, a little unsure. You can mildly interact with another android at the beginning of the game, but other than that, you’re searching solo; I think more droid-on-droid interaction would have been nice–hey now–as well as some dialogue trees to help fill in story gaps. Other than a couple of really well hidden items, the puzzles are pretty easy to figure out if you keep on clicking, and you can probably breeze through the game in about ten or fifteen minutes.

Alas, BNKR ends right as it just starts getting good plot-wise, and so I’ll have to keep looking for whatever comes from the people at Piter Games, as finding out what’s actually inside that opened hatch is just the tip of the post-apocalyptic iceberg.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #43 – 400 Years

2013 games completed 400 years

A calamity
Is coming, have to stop it
E to plant chestnut

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

The Price for falling in love with the baron’s daughter

the price thoughts capture

The Price is not a happy story, which is more than clear from the opening scene, but it is beyond gorgeous to behold. Set in the American South during the time of slavery, a nameless field laborer has fallen in love hard with the baron’s daughter. Naturally, the baron and his men are none too pleased to learn of this and come after him, shooting first, not asking questions later. The baron’s daughter ends up taking a bullet for her secret lover, who must run off to stay safe. He then ends up meeting a shaman who promises he can save her life, but only if our overalls-wearing protagonist, who I’ll call Overalls, can reap three wicked souls, for everything comes at a price. Killing evil characters is surprisingly not difficult for Overalls, but controlling the bloodthirsty anger deep within is.

The Price tells its depressing story at a deliberately slow pace despite its short length, mostly through the use of expository intertitles of the silent film era, somber piano-heavy music, and gorgeously painted scenes. No, really. Look up at this post’s leading image; that’s some serious beauty, as well as the main driver for me to keep playing. As previously mentioned, this is not a story full of smiles and warm emotions, and it’s easy to see what Overalls’ ultimate fate will be–along with the baron’s daughter’s–once you solve the first puzzle area, so I wasn’t playing for any kind of startling revelations, but rather to see more of the art in motion. I kind of felt the same way about Machinarium as of late.

Puzzles mostly involve pulling levers or clicking on spinning circles, and everything is relatively straightforward, which is good because there’s no hint system, as well as no inventory management. However, as Overalls explores the American South, you can pick up white flowers, which I guess unlock something, but I never found all of them. The only two tricky areas involve a spinning clock that is separated into three sections that you need to align to make an image and then grok a door code from and a hungry alligator. Everything else is simple clicking–and sometimes you aren’t supposed to make all the clicks that the game is asking you to make. The puzzles and locations vary based on the three souls Overalls need to reap, and once you have them for the shaman, you can return to the baron and his daughter to see this woeful story to a close.

So, this look at two lovers destined to struggle comes from…Flip N Tale, a developer that does not seem to be active any more. Think they made something called Loondon, too. Well, from what I can tell by Googling, at least. Its webpage is dead in the water, and the dev’s official Twitter account has only two tweets to date, both back in March 2013. Strange. I really wanted to find out more about who made The Price and such, but there’s not much info out there, and with such a generic title, it’s nigh impossible to find anything with a simple search term. And dang it, this game deserves being credited.

If you like beautifully sad stories, then give The Price a click. It’s roughly 15 to 20 minutes long, depending on how stuck you get with the clock or alligator puzzle. But be warned, it takes a bit to load at first. If you find out what the flowers ultimately end up doing, please let me know. I can’t imagine it leads to much, but maybe there’s an alternate ending hidden behind those pristine petals.