8/16 update: the game has been released in North America and Europe!
Flip Over Frog (ひっくりガエル), out this week on the Nintendo Switch eShop! Being, well, us, we took a look at the new digital version of this small-batch card game, which is also the first look for those outside Japan at the card game itself!
Drawing inspiration from unplugged classics like Reversi and reminiscent of games like Triple Triad, GOTTA2’s Flip Over Frog adds in hidden-role elements to give its simple setup a distinct feel. On your turn, you draw a card, then play one from your hand to the board. Most of the cards feature one of four animals and either cardinal or diagonal arrows, and placing one of those flips the nearby card stacks indicated by the arrows.
You can play cards onto empty squares, or you can play atop an upside down card, but once two cards are played in one spot, each faces a different direction and either will be face-up when flipped. The remaining cards are “candy” cards and are used to discard a card from the board and open up the space to play another. Once the board’s full, the player with the most face-up cards matching their hidden animal is the winner.
It’s easy enough to learn and approachable for those who aren’t heavy board game players, so if you get the opportunity to import the physical game, go ahead! The art in the game is charming, and the animations when cards are played are a nice touch for a project that’s otherwise fairly low-budget. There’s also some pleasant music while you play! Hey. That’s pretty good.
If there’s one thing holding developer Mutan’s Switch edition of the game (and, well, there is), it’s that its feature set is lacking. The game offers both online play and local wireless multiplayer, but with the game’s current player base, finding someone else with a copy is a tough task. We sat in the online lobby at six different times of day within days of the game’s Japanese launch and never found a match, so random opponents aren’t really here either. That means you’re left with what the game dubs “practice” mode, in which you can play against any number of AI opponents.
What the game really needs is single-system play. While a game with hidden cards is tough to play on a TV, a pass-and-play mode would work well as long as other players’ previous turns were indicated or viewable. It would also benefit from the sort of single-player challenges seen in games like fellow Japanese indie card darling Shephy. As it is, it’s really hard to recommend.