Frantics

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Frantics Game Poster Image
Simple, safe party game requires mobile devices for play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Promotes friendly competition, small group socialization. Rewards simple strategizing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player avatars don't reveal much personality, but host -- a sly fox -- issues mild taunts to competitors between games.  

Ease of Play

Easy-to-follow instructions provided onscreen prior to each game, but inaccurate movement-based controls could frustrate some players.

Violence & Scariness

Clay animals punch, shove, jump on each other while trying to win mini-games. They're never seriously hurt, but their malleable bodies can be temporarily flattened if they fall from a great height, run into a wall.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Frantics is a downloadable party game for up to four players, each of whom requires a mobile device -- tablet or phone -- with a free downloadable app installed in order to play. Kids use their device's touch screen and motion sensors to control an animal made of clay as they try to win short races, fights, and survival contests. Characters jump, bump into, and sometimes punch each other. They're never seriously hurt, but their clay bodies can be momentarily flattened if they run into a wall or fall a great distance. Activities are designed to foster friendly competitive play and could promote friendship building among small groups of kids. There's little in the way of iffy content, though it's worth noting that the game's host, a wry fox, is always seen holding and swirling a glass of what appears to be brandy.

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What's it about?

FRANTICS is a member of Sony's PlayLink family, a collection of simple multiplayer games for PlayStation 4 that requires each player to have a mobile device -- phone or tablet -- with a free companion app installed. It's a straightforward party game starring animal avatars made of clay. These creatures compete in several short mini-games, including a race along an obstacle-laden linear track, a parachuting contest that challenges players to be the last to release their chutes, and a quest to be the last one to not slip off of a gradually shrinking platform of ice. Players tilt and tap their mobile devices to make their characters move around, sometimes jumping on, bumping into, or even punching adversaries to earn an advantage. Players who've lost a round can still be part of the action by using their device to sabotage the actions of the remaining characters. Sessions are won by earning the most crowns for winning mini-games, which can include using coins collected during play to buy more crowns near the end of the game. Frantics is designed for up to four people to play as a group, but kids can also play by themselves and practice against computer-controlled opponents.

Is it any good?

It's no Mario Party, but this PlayLink game makes for a compellingly inexpensive alternative. Frantics is just $20 to download, and it does away with the need for a quartet of costly console controllers by having players use something they almost certainly already own: a mobile device. And connecting a phone or tablet to your PS4 is as simple as signing in to your home's Wi-Fi network. The touch- and movement-based controls aren't as precise or instantaneous as using a controller's thumbstick and action buttons, but the games are simple enough that most players shouldn't experience too much frustration. And the benefit of players having their own private screen -- which Frantics cleverly uses to occasionally send individual players a secret mission, such as working to help another player win -- is undeniable.

Where Frantics stumbles, unfortunately, is in its lack of variety and originality. There aren't much more than a dozen or so activities, and most of them will be pretty familiar to anyone with party game experience. Expect races and survival contests, plus the occasional bit of strategizing as you use the coins you've picked up while playing to bid on extra crowns or power-ups. The odd moment of inspiration exists -- such a mini-game reminiscent of curling where players attempt to send animal avatars riding wheeled office chairs gliding toward a ringed target area while avoiding hidden spring traps -- but much of what's here has a very been-there-done-that vibe. That said, most of the mini-games are still fun, and it's pretty hard to beat the price. If you need a new party game for your family's next sleepover, you could do worse.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about character strengths and life skills. What sort of opportunities does Frantics provide to let you experience good sporting behavior, the competitive spirit, and teamwork?

  • Talk about winning and losing. Winning usually feels good, but do you take time to consider how your defeated friends feel as you celebrate your victory?

Game details

For kids who love party games

Our editors recommend

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