From there the game’s disparate elements begin to congeal into a central question, not “What do I mean?” but “What does it mean that I can mean?” a question that Frog Fractions itself attempts again and again to obfuscate from the player’s view. Consider for a moment how each section of the game, save for the opening segments, is scarcely unbeatable, which is to say, nearly consequenceless. From the easily-attained, overpowered upgrades, to the threatless exploration of underwater Mars, to an un-unbeatable DDR clone and a completely broken economy simulator, Frog Fractions practically revels in the playlessness of itself. It’s as if the game is of two minds: one, the young Felipe, insisting on the new physical era, and the other, Felipe senior, who despite his admiration of his son’s passion can’t help but think that the allure of raw physicality is somehow substanceless—or at least, substance-lite. Add to this the game’s climax, which sees our protagonist helming the production and distribution of pornography, that ultimate “game” wherein the event has been long-settled (“filmed” in one case, “programmed” in the another), but which we are still welcome to “interact” with, however fruitlessly.
As a matter of fact, the most “consequential” of moment in Frog Fractions comes in the form of none other than a text adventure, a genre that lurches at the distinction between prose and videogame, and which is the only section that players will find themselves stuck. Couple this with a hypersleep nightmare that occurs during the otherwise text-based segment, wherein we return to our lily pad and our prosaic pondscape in human form, bereft of the benefits that games imbue upon those digital abstractions of ourselves, left powerless in the face of our own limited, real-world physicality.
Ah. Let’s glance at that history of boxing once more shall we…
…Today’s boxing enthusiasts fantasize about a newcomer that would rock the ring the way Felipe did. Calcification of the modern rule set has essentially locked the “Punching” strategy into place, but it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy. Young scholars with big dreams often enter the ring with their crazy new trick, usually a variant of hypnosis, and though they’ve achieved the occasional victory, none of the gimmicks have been robust enough to make it to the big time.
What’s this now, a generation of men at the mercy of a physical future unreturned…of men waiting for that “punch,” that moment when the old gives way to the new and the physical force of change upsets the status quo. Which is another way of saying that Frog Fractions, for all its attempts at being bewildering, is a stark and personal tale about inadequacy—of expression, of action, of physicality. These “fractions,” then, are not of a mathematical nature but of a distinctly human nature, resulting in a fascinating and worthwhile journey that explores the efficacy of itself, and does so without drawing too broad of conclusions either way. Are games more efficacious than prose? and regarding what subjects, in the context of what dilemmas? If not, can they hope to be? is it a common goal toward which we can work, or is it ultimately a fruitless endeavor? I don’t know. Yet still I return to games, “for the love of the sport,” we might say, “to witness the last glorious seconds of wakefulness slip away.”