Thursday, November 17, 2011

Frantic Frigates

Frantic Frigates is far from the best browser game I've ever played. There are more innovative, more artistically successful, more outright FUN games out there.

But I haven't played ANY of them nearly as long as I played Frantic Frigates. Why? Very simple answer: it's stupidly addictive, and just frustrating enough that it kept me hooked. For, uh, too many hours.


You're a pirate. You don't like other pirates. Or sharks. You kill everything that comes near your ship.

... yep.

With a game like Frantic Frigates, you don't need a plot. You just need an objective: blow the ever-loving shite out of anything that comes near your pirate ship. You're especially good at this because your ship automatically fires on anything that comes close - you just have to worry about steering. Go as long as you can, fighting through massive waves of enemies and three bosses on a large plane of water, until you die.

On the first go through, this concept is pretty boring. It's not until you die and start AGAIN that the game becomes novel, as you begin with slightly more money to upgrade your ship the second time through - and the better you do on subsequent attempts to beat the game, the more money you have to start. Consequently, the game gets easier and easier, you get farther and farther, and your determination to see everything there is, to beat every last pirate, grows with each attempt. (Did for me, anyway.)


Frantic Frigates couldn't be a simpler game to learn when it comes to controls, as the ship shoots on its own. All YOU have to do is make sure you don't stray into enemies with the mouse. This is as easy to do with a track pad as it is a proper mouse, so this is one of those rare games which you can play on a laptop, on its own, with no detriment to your skill.

Does that mean the controls are easy to MASTER? Noooo. The game gets pretty damn frantic (hence the name), to the point that the screen is literally filled with enemy bullets by the end:

I died getting that screenshot for you. I hope you all appreciate that.

My only complaint about the controls comes whenever you accidentally move your mouse off the screen, as your boat is (usually) screwed thereafter. Would locking the mouse ONTO the screen for the duration of the game be possible?


Frantic Frigates is not that impressive graphically, as the ships are all pretty damn generic. That said it's still pretty enough to look at, as the animation is smooth and without any significant visual glitches. Unfortunately the action also slows down significantly when there are a ton of bullets flying about on the screen, which... actually that's kinda helpful for the later battles. Still, lagging can be a pain, so you'll need a powerful computer to prevent full slowdown.


Sea shanties. The whole lot. Nothing terribly impressive - the music that plays the majority of the time sounds like it's been pulled straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean and tweaked a little bit to avoid lawsuits - but it's appropriate.

Challenge Rating

You'll see the above screen a lot. A LOT.

Frantic Frigates is hard. That's probably the main reason I played for so long - I became obsessed with beating the damn thing. (Still haven't, as of this writing. SO CLOSE) It's similar to old scrolling shooters like Gradius and R-Type in that there's very little margin for error, and one little foul up will spell your doom. Very frustrating... and enough that the game drives you into Zen-esque periods of near meditation where you don't think about what you're doing, you just DO.

Surprisingly, however, your early forays into Frantic Frigates will challenge you most via the upgrade system. It's wonderfully implemented in that you can only have a certain number of upgrades per game, and by upgrading certain elements of your ship - say, your firepower or speed - you lose out in others. Discovering which elements best suit your play style is key to overall victory. (I find treasure to be vitally important for gaining levels and more starting money, but that's just me.)


If you're going to play Frantic Frigates - and you should, it's pretty fun - set aside a few hours to do so. Once you start, you won't want to stop until you down that goddamned ghost frigate and beat the game.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear piratical horns calling my name.


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