Frog and Vine
Frog and Vine is a unique collection of puzzles entered in our second Flash game design competition by Matt Slaybaugh, creator of Escape to Obion. Frog and Vine is one of the more varied entries and features four types of puzzles that can be completed in any order. And if the name didn't give it away, each one involves frogs and/or vines!
The main menu of the game is a vine with four leaves, each one representing a puzzle. Starting at the bottom and working our way up, the first leaf is a simple hopping puzzle where your goal is to move a frog onto the lilypad at the top of the screen. Our amphibian friends can only move by hopping over adjacent frogs which causes it to disappear. Where to vanished frogs go, you ask? A happy frog ranch in Oklahoma. Trial-and-error is all that's necessary to uncover this puzzle's secrets.
Next on the list is a color-based puzzle where you must match the pattern shown on the blocks by moving the frogs at the center of the screen. Click a frog to see where it can leap, then move it by clicking the target leaf. Like the first puzzle, all you need to do is play around for a few minutes to get the hang of things.
The third puzzle is one of the most difficult. Pieces of vine are placed at the center of the screen with a frog on top and a frog to the left. Clicking the left frog moves all the pieces one space left, while clicking the top frog slides all the pieces up—except for the ones in the red bar. When a vine piece is in the right spot it turns green. A lot of experimenting will be needed to figure out just how this works, but there is a pattern to the madness, and once you discover it you'll feel rather proud of yourself.
The top puzzle best represents the competition's "grow" theme and has you constructing a vine from root to leaf one piece at a time. Frogs are obstacles, and you have a limited set of vine shapes to place on the screen. When pieces are connected they'll turn green and the goal is to connect all the leaves to the root. Be economical with your moves and you'll be the proud parent of a lovely frog vine in no time.
Analysis: Frog and Vine has a lot of gameplay variety, but some of the puzzles can be frustrating from time to time. Luck is as much a part of the experience as skill. Visually I feel like Frog and Vine never really gels with itself. Solid-colored game elements on top of realistic backdrops feel cold and distant from each other. Some slight integration would pull the whole thing together nicely. I loved the music, but after some time scratching your head over puzzles, it gets a little unnerving. Fortunately Matt provides a music-off button right on the side of the screen so we can kill the noise and focus on the task at hand.
Cheers to Matt Slaybaugh for crafting a challenging and varied game for our competition!
This one seemed to lack the polish of some other games, and I don't feel like the puzzles were very innovative, nor was the grow theme very evident. Overall, it felt like something that would be on a one-dollar "500 games for Windows 95" CD-ROM. I never did quite finish the top leaf, so I don't know if there was any reward for completing the game, but my guess is that it wouldn't be satisfying enough to justify the hours spent tweaking that darn vine.