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American McGee's Grimm: The Frog King

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: GameTap
Developer: Spicy Horse
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Grimm and his distorted fairytales return for a third volume, and while the core gameplay and feel are the same, there are a couple of additions that make the game a bit better.

Like the other Grimm games, American McGee's Grimm: The Frog King takes on a blocky, puppet-show look with exaggerated landscapes and colors. When the level hasn't been turned, everything has a light feel to it and the colors are full of pastels, but as Grimm makes his way through the levels, those bright colors turn dark and very moody. But not just the colors, the environment and character models also change. Pigs in the yard will become monstrous, water in the well will be filled with muck and eyeballs and, of course, characters like the princess and frog become drastically more worse for the wear. But these were all in the previous volumes. One of the most notable changes this time is the added special effect of slime dripping from the top of the screen as you fill up Grimm's Dark-O-Meter. While a nice addition, there were times when it almost got distracting and as far as I could tell, there is no way to simply turn it off. But like I said, this did help add a lot to the feel of the game, so its minor intrusion doesn't hurt it all that much.

Music also does a lot to keep the game's feel appropriate. Early in levels, the tones of the tunes are carefree and happy, but as Grimm does his dirty work, like the visuals, the feel of the music becomes much darker.


American McGee's Grimm: The Frog King follows the classic tale of the snobbish girl who loses her golden ball down a well and asks a frog to help her. The frog agrees to, as long as she agrees to let him come to dinner and sleep in her bed. For some reason, she agrees to this odd deal and he jumps in and finds the golden orb. He then arrives at the castle, attends dinner and stays in the princess' bed. When the two kiss, the frog turns into a king and the two get married.

As with all of the other American McGee's Grimm games, this doesn't sit well for the dirty little gnome, so he runs through the six scenes from the story, making everything appear much darker than it was originally told. By the end, the girl is monstrous, the frog is bright red (probably poisonous now, that I think about it) and the castle, well, dining room and everywhere else appears much more horrific than before.

Another change with this volume is a new gauge at the bottom of the screen. This little meter shows the percentage of the level that has been changed. This joins the existing time counter and helps you figure out if you've mucked enough stuff up to get a gold medal when you complete the level. It's a minor touch, but appreciated and adds just a bit more polish to the overall game series to make it feel more complete.


Like previous episodes, American McGee's Grimm: The Frog King is designed to be completed in about an hour. The six levels can be as short as a couple of minutes, or for the very thorough player, 10 minutes. There aren't any areas that are truly tough since there aren't any enemies or attacks that you have to perform. In the end, the trouble you might have is when facing a series of jumps (which was also a problem in the previous games). Though, I have to say, there was one sequence that gave me a lot of trouble, and that was in the well.

In this chamber, water started filling up the room and you have to run around a staircase lining the wall in order to get out before the kill-plain reaches you. Like previous episodes, the controls in The Frog King aren't very precise, so running around in circles and trying to avoid panels that slide away or platforms that rotate underneath you is tough. And, to make matters worse, the framerate was pretty choppy, but that is due primarily to my laptop just barely meeting the minimum system requirements.

Game Mechanics:

American McGee's Grimm: The Frog King keeps the same simplified mechanics and control scheme to make the game extremely easy to pick up and play. Without any fancy attacks (or even enemies to use them against), your role is to guide Grimm through the world, and besides the occasional jump or Butt Stomp, you won't have to do much more than walk around.

Walking around involves using the W-A-S-D keys, while the mouse works your camera. Simply by walking around an area that has not been turned dark will cause it to change (provided you have filled up your Dark-O-Meter to the appropriate level), and the Spacebar will let you jump. There are several goals in a level that need to be turned dark in order to progress. When one of these items is pointed out to you, it tells you how dark you need to turn it, and in order to do so, you simply double-tap the Spacebar (to perform a Butt Stomp) when your Dark-O-Meter is at the appropriate level.

If you've played any of the other Grimm episodes, then you know what to expect from The Frog Prince. The addition of the slime special effect and percent-changed meters give a little more to the whole experience, but the core game is still intact. If you've been enjoying the series so far, then this one shouldn't disappoint you. If you haven't been following the series, don't worry, you don't need the other episodes to jump in here, so you might as well try the demo to see if you like it. And remember, each episode is always free to play the first 24 hours of it's release.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

2.4 GHz Single Core Pentium Processor, 512 MB of System RAM, Nvidia 6200+ or equivalent video card with 128MB Video RAM, 500 MB of Free Hard Drive Space

Test System:

Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Duel NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

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