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GDC 2011: ‘Total Toads’ Is A Zen Game With… Toads

We see a lot of “core” games at GDC in San Francisco. Developers like hard, deep, or big games just as much as the vast majority of you do, and their designs reflect this. A nice palate cleanser swung my way the other day and provided a break from the gore and the challenge I’ve been seeing. It was a casual game called Total Toads. It’s the kind of title you can pick up, play, and drop on the train or while walking the dog or even sitting on the toilet.

In a nutshell, Total Toads is a game built around the high score. The not-so-subtle twist is that the score building requires a little math on your end.

It’s a little abstract, so stick with me for a second. In the game, you control the tongues of three respective toads that line the bottom of the screen. You use these tongues to collect numbered bugs. The number of the bug you collect goes towards your score.

The catch: some bugs have negative numbers, meaning you could lower your score. But, each toad has an addition, subtraction, or a multiplication sign etched into their fleshy bits, which means that you can turn negatives into positives by using the right frog.

Some bugs operate as bonus items. If you happen to divide by the zero bugs, for example, a ton of numbered bugs will flood the screen. Or if you divide by two, your score will be halved.

How do you lose? Each bug that passes your frog ends up killing the little guy. After all three are gone, your game is over.

So, Total Toads is simple, sure, but it’s a good time for what it is, which is to say, a basic, “matching” type of game. Laid back, smooth music compliments and exudes the vibe the point and touch play exudes (brushed by Randy O’Conner of Spider: Secrets of Bryce Manor fame [$2.99]) ; awesome art plays its role as well, adding a layer of quirk and character to the experience.

Look for the game  at some point this March. It’ll hit at around the one-dollar mark.