Frogger (SNES) review
"I know Frogger is supposed to be a “classic” game, but anyone who’s first experience with it comes through this Super Nintendo stinker will have a hard time believing it. The first clues to the poor quality of the game is that there is barely a title screen, no music, and the development team credits list THREE people. And one of them is a tester. Projects like this were supposed to have happened in the eighties, or later as homegrown indie projects made by teenagers in their basements for fun a..."
I know Frogger is supposed to be a “classic” game, but anyone who’s first experience with it comes through this Super Nintendo stinker will have a hard time believing it. The first clues to the poor quality of the game is that there is barely a title screen, no music, and the development team credits list THREE people. And one of them is a tester. Projects like this were supposed to have happened in the eighties, or later as homegrown indie projects made by teenagers in their basements for fun and distributed for free over the Internet. Indeed, I would be far less critical of this game if it hadn’t come out when it did, and as a fully licensed Nintendo product at that. When did it come out? Incredibly, the date given on the title screen is 1998.
1998! Think Playstation. Think a world already graced with Chrono Trigger, A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Secret of Mana, and Super Mario World. The list of classic SNES titles goes on and on. So why this need to release an ugly throwback to the medieval era of gaming? Probably money and the unresistable urge to cash in on a popular name.
The big frog that introduces the first stage really sums up what the gamer has to look forward to. He stares out with a bored look, half-heartedly waving a sign that says “Get Ready.” But his face tells another story. Mouth downturned and eyebrows arched sardonically as if to say “twit, you don’t know what you’re in for.”
The point of Frogger hasn’t changed; the goal is still to help the little frogs cross a busy highway and hop over a few logs and bugs to reach the safety of the little crevices at the other side. On the way he encounters a number of nasty obstacles, including vehicles on the road and snakes and alligators in the marsh. If you manage to fit a frog into each of the crevices, you get to begin a new level where the cars move faster and more enemies appear. If you can make it all the way to level eight and pass that...you get to start back at the beginning but with more enemies. This goes on and on. Frogger is one of those games that never ends, but instead just becomes more and more difficult until it’s physically impossible to continue.
There are many ways that the frog can die, some of which are fairer than others. Because of questionable hit detection, the frog can not only get run over by stepping in front of a vehicle, but by touching the back or side of one as well. Sometimes when jumping along a log, the frog will be able to jump to the edge, but other times he will jump right off. Mis-timing jumps to the crevices by even a hair will cause the frog to smash head-first into the rocks. The frog also dies if he tries to jump off of the screen to the left or right.
Frogger also boasts an astonishing lack of realism which may be ok in an arcade or NES game, but just added to the primitive feeling. First of all, whenever the frog dies he turns into a little green skull. He doesn’t squish or get eaten. Even when the timer runs down, the frog just spontaneously turns into a skull. How disturbing. It’s not quite spontaneous combustion, but I can’t help being reminded of Spinal Tap drummers. Also, when a car hits a frog you hear a sound of breaks squealing. But the car never stops or even slows down. So where were the breaks coming from? And has no one ever noticed that there are cars travelling in opposite directions in lanes that are all supposed to be going on way? Ok I know it’s to make the game more challenging, but it’s like World’s Worst Police Chases.
The graphics, like the rest of the game, are cheap. They certainly don’t scream 1998, or even 1991. The frog is a tiny green blob with two stumps that could be legs. The water striders in the marsh look like they’re being pulled along by string, and their one-frame animations don’t gel at all with the background. There is no music in the game either. Probably because there is no “audio engineer” or “composer” listed as part of the development team. Sometimes no music is ok, but in the case of Frogger it just added to the empty, incomplete feel of the game.
It is possibly because I never bought into the Frogger arcade craze that I can be so harsh about a game that is regarded as a classic. It's not the concept of Frogger that I dislike, it's this awful, lazy, half-assed rendition of it. The fact that Frogger does have claim to classic status makes its shabby treatment even more deplorable. Frogger has been released on several other platforms, none of which I have yet played. But I can probably be safe in assuming that anything else will be better than this Super Nintendo version.
Community review by alecto (January 19, 2003)
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