<p>Max Baehr expresses his love for his newfound obsession in the form of a web casual game.</p>
I'm just gonna put this out there: Frog Fractions has completely destroyed my brain. Like, that processing information thing that brains do? Mine doesn't do that anymore. Also, I think my brain is broken.
It's hard to know where to begin on this one. Frog Fractions presents itself as a 90s-style edutainment title. The title screen, for example, strongly implies that a friendly-looking frog (named Hop, of course) is going to teach you fractions, and that—oh, boy!—it's gonna be fun. The start of the game delivers similarly: Hop sits on a lilypad in a simple pastoral scene; bugs fly down; Hop eats the bugs before they devour his apples. Your score tallies as a rapidly-shifting improper fraction, validating the non-frog half of the game's title. So, frog: check. Fractions: check. The graphics and (awesome) homebrew sound effects, meanwhile, evoke images of Hop kicking back and swapping stories with Reader Rabbit and that thing from Number Munchers. Truly, this is fine edutainment, potentially.
In the spirit of the modern casual game, you're presented with an upgrade panel upon completing the first level. This is when the wheels start coming off. First upgrade, you're probably gonna want to go with the laser targeting. And then you're like, “Wait, why haven't I actually done anything with fractions yet?” And then you notice that your health bar measures “Indignity.” And then you actually read the rest of the upgrades, and at that point, we might as well stop talking about this game as if it were a game.
More than a game, Frog Fractions is a journey into a tiny box stuffed with extremely weird little surprises, each a spoonful of rich, protean video game soup. While it's immediately apparent that there's more to Hop's adventure than the title indicates, there's no way to fully anticipate the depth of the rabbit hole. You just have to dive on in and see what happens. My first playthrough comprised 30 of the strangest, most head-scratchingly enjoyable minutes of my week so far. I laughed. I grinned. I got really confused a few times.
And you should, too, so that's all I'm gonna say about this game other than “Go play it,” followed by a few words that will (I hope) help drive home the idea of going and playing it.
Go play it. Put on some headphones and commit half an hour to finishing the game. Soak it in. It may pull at your brain-strings—let it. It feels good. My only advice is something I would say to anyone heading off into an unknown forest of weirdness: be prepared to think creatively, keep a keen eye on your surroundings, and bring lots of bug spray.
And just for kicks, hear that awesome soundtrack right here!