Froggy goes a’courtin
Back when games were simple and pixels were the size of your head, coin-op arcades ruled the video game universe. Sure, there was the Atari and the Intellivision among others, but it was success at the coin-ops that made a game a hit, before it ever made it home. One of the rulers of that ancient world was Frogger, a simple tale of five baby frogs that constantly needed rescuing. Its benign reign dominated both the arcades and the home systems, till one day, it was no more. Frogger retreated to a far off lily pad (located somewhere on the Riviera) and bided his time until he could claim power once again. When approached by Hasbro Interactive, he was presented with a deal to reclaim his throne. “Now is the time,” he thought to himself, “No more Mr. Nice Frog!” Can Frogger reclaim that which he has lost?
Frogger is the latest attempt by Hasbro Interactive to capitalize on a non-original game title(ie Monopoly, Clue, Risk, etc.). Using this strategy, they have quickly become one of the top selling producers in the industry. With Frogger, however, they are attempting to resurrect a long dead video game character, and try making him a hit again. Unfortunately, Frogger is not going to be able to regain the popularity it once had in the face of games like Colony Wars and its ilk.
The first question everyone asks is how you can make a complex game out of Frogger. Well, with nine worlds, each with at least two levels, Frogger has more levels than a lot of games out there now. Your mission is the same, however, you’ve got to rescue the five baby frogs before time runs out. In this new incarnation, it’s not just cars and alligators that you have to avoid. You now have bees, moving platforms, switches you have to activate, and even a skiing level. One wonders how frogs as a species survive when their babies get into this much trouble.
The designers definitely deserve kudos for their work with the graphics. Frogger has gone totally polygonal. The worlds he inhabits are now 3D, requiring you to jump down platforms and watch out for firey death from below. The frogs look like frogs, alligators like alligators, and big rigs like big rigs. Frogger is truly the king of amphibian simulations.
Along with new graphics, Frogger has gained new abilities as well. Besides the obvious hopping ability, Frogger is now able to super hop, use his heat seeking tongue, and even power croak (I thought I could croak just fine in the old game.). Super hop allows you to jump on top of objects that are above you. The heat seeking tongue is used to eat bugs and various other critters. The aforementioned power croak allows you to call to the baby frogs to find their locations. There is even a multi-player game that pits you against your friends to see who can rescue the most frogs. Frogger intends to get those frogs by any means necessary.
The biggest problem with the game, however, is the mere fact that it is… Frogger. I, for one, was never any good at Frogger when it was in the arcade. I didn’t even like it that much. Due to the nature of the game, with its time limits, it is impossible to really play a new level very long before you die. It becomes just a matter of practice and memorization to beat each of the levels. Now, while I may be old fashioned in my ideas of world domination, I have advanced with my ideas about video games and so have most other gamers. They need something more than just memorization to make them fun.
Don’t get me wrong, Frogger is still a decent game and should sell very well to the numerous fans of the old coin-op. As far as new players, however, Frogger really doesn’t have anything that would capture their fancy. I doubt very much that we will ever be saying “All hail King Frogger” ever again.