The Amazing Frog combines ragdoll physics, a crudely rendered approximation of Swindon and a flatulent frog to form what feels like a YouTube sensation in the making.
It’s barely even a game at all. Your goal, I suppose, is to fling the eponymous, invincible amphibian as far as you can by any means possible. That means throwing him down a set of steps, firing him out of a cannon or propelling him into the side of a multi-storey car park to rack up ever higher scores.
Unstable, glitchy physics help and hinder your efforts in equal measure, and enrich the slapstick. As well as stairs to tumble down and buildings to plummet from, there are explosives – kept in red barrels, naturally – to blast our hero into the air and bouncy castles to frolic upon. Your soundtrack is mostly the persistent slap of wet, webbed foot on concrete, though developer Fayju has dotted the occasional boom box around its home town, too. They pump out a squelchy, synth-led theme, seemingly stolen from some lo-fi ’90s game show, only endured when your avatar is in earshot.
Press A and your hero’s legs will simply give way underneath him, flopping to the floor as his physics dictate and then, inexplicably, he’s able to wriggle and slide about on the ground until you feel you’ve had enough. Another button press brings this amazing frog to his feet again, ready to take another pratfall, whether it’s a spectacular tumble into a shipping container or meek trip and slump over some railings.
There are mundane little secrets everywhere. Run up to the roof of one of Swindon’s architectural marvels and you can attempt to punt the footballs lying around into the goal, for no particular reward. There’s an Ouya hidden in a caravan, and plentiful posters for developer Fayju’s next game, Goldilocks and the 3000 Bears, pinned upon the walls.
The two-man developer calls Swindon’s Create Studios home, and rather than imagine some far-flung universe for the game’s setting, it has simply replicated the view from its office window. The studio is enjoying the response to its Ouya exclusive thus far, and plans to keep adding to the game, says founder Gaz Bushell.
“Our targets for Amazing Frog are to make the vehicles drivable, add missions, modes, environments, four player competition, like Towerfall, the list goes on and may well change,” he tells me.
He is a keen supporter of Ouya, and encourages other indies to port their games to the console. “So far the feedback has been immense, I have been making games for the best part of 15 years and never seen a response like this for anything I have made,” he continues. “We have had over 20,000 downloads of version 1.1 and a lot of engagement, I would estimate more engagement than if we had had over 200,000 downloads on iOS.”
Financially, it hasn’t been spectacular. The Amazing Frog is free, and Fayju has only just added the option to buy additional costumes for its mascot via an in-game portable toilet. There are other projects in the works, though. Alongside Goldilocks – described by Bushell as like The Amazing Frog but with guns and more purposeful play – there’s Cascade. Part funded by a Wellcome Trust People award, it is a territorial defence game that “was spawned in a drunken conversation between a scientist and a games developer over six years ago,” says Bushell. It takes on rather weightier subject matter, intending to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease.
For now, though, if you have an Ouya, I urge you to try The Amazing Frog. Almost by accident, Fayju has cobbled together a slapstick farce whose wonky production values make it all the more comedic.