Fjong’s steam page, in charmingly sincere and only slightly broken English, in many ways presents more questions than it answers. We’re told that the Fjong (presumably the strange bird-whale hybrid creature we’re playing as) desire to fly, but are too fat and useless to do so, without the help of magic candy, and that’s about it. Who is capturing these stupid birds – and for what possible purpose, other than maybe using them as throw-pillows? Who’s magic candy is this, and are we sure it’s not some cleverly-marketed street drug? Why are the Fjongs named after the noise pinging underwear elastic makes? The world may never know. (Update, Fjong is Norwegian for “fancy,” which seems like a coincidence, and Danish for “okay,” which is surprisingly appropriate.)
What I do know, and you’re about to, is that Fjong very definitely started life as a mobile game – and the porting is not subtle. The game occupies a strange smartphone-shaped portion of your monitor and refuses to accommodate anything else, nor does it have music settings other than “on” or “off” or graphics settings other than “yes” or “go away.” The graphics also haven’t been upscaled in any way as far as I can tell, making some textures that would previously have only been a few pixels look choppy and rough. That said, the visual presentation does have a nice, warm, fuzzy feel to it, not dissimilar to the original Raymans, though obviously not as well done as that game. The music also has a summer-afternoon, laid-back quality to it which is relaxing – not bad for one guy, even if there are only six music tracks total.
The gameplay is sort of a mish-mash of popular smartphone game genres (wonder why…) – the Angry Birds comparison is immensely obvious, even down to the three-star scoring system. There’s also physics-puzzle elements mixed in, moreso when going for the “hardcore challenge” purple stars, and even resembles a golf game at some points. Here’s the bottom line: its fun. The controls, not ideal having started life on a touch-based system, do allow for a certain amount of finesse in flinging your Fjong (try saying that three times fast), the level design is tight and focused, and freeing fat-Fjong and mini-Fjong opens a number of pretty smart puzzles. The purple star challenges, which strictly limit your number of Fjong flings, are perhaps the most enjoyable; I liked what there was of this game.
That last statement perhaps hints at this game’s biggest issue; its length. All told, beating every challenge and earning every gratuitous achievement took me under 90 minutes. This game feels like a tech demo; neat ideas used once or twice but never explored or expanded on, just shelved in favour of the next thing you’ll see once, and then the game ends. The game’s obviously not pricey, but even £1.69 for ninety minutes of entertainment is perhaps a touch steep.
Fjong is a short, enjoyable distraction I will almost certainly never touch again, but it’s recommended to fans of similar games who don’t mind the price tag. Or genetic scientists still trying to work out what a Fjong actually is.