In the beginning, Konami created Frogger and it was good. Then Hasbro created Frogger in 3D and it was, well, not quite as good. Now, Hasbro has brought us Frogger 2 Swampy’s Revenge.
"Wow, Frogger! I remember that old chestnut," I hear you cry. Before you get too excited, things have moved on since the old days. This little frog has got more to worry about than crossing the road during rush hour, but not much more. He’s also got a love interest in the shape of the pink Lillie Frog.
Frogger’s nemesis, Swampy the Crocodile, has kidnapped Lillie’s baby brothers and sisters. Swampy’s tired of Frogger stealing the limelight and has devised an evil plan to make himself King of the Swamp. It’s up to the heroic frogs to follow the dastardly crocodile around the world and rescue the babies.
Frogger 2 is Hasbro’s second revamp of the Konami original and retains their 3D adventure format. The game can be played in three forms, Frogger’s Arcade, Multiplayer and Story Mode. The story isn’t an important part of the gameplay, which is of the can’t-go-wrong linear variety.
Although the graphics are by no means pushing the PSX to its limits, the game is nicely presented. The menu features Frogger sitting on grassy knolls in a pond. He can even use his long tongue to slurp passing butterflies and fish. All this happens before you’ve even played the game! Well, it was cool enough to amuse me.
The animation sequences in between levels leave a little to be desired. Considering the in-game graphics (and even the menu) are cute and simple with vivid colors, I have to wonder about the fuzzy, pixelated cut scenes. The Rambo pastiche at the beginning of chapter seven is an amusing reference to the eighties though.
In Story Mode you alternate between controlling Frogger and Lillie. Chasing Swampy around the world takes the intrepid frogs through gold mines, an ant nest, to outer space and through a haunted house.
And Frogger has more than heavy traffic to navigate these days. Our little green friend (and his little pink girlfriend) have to hop past stampeding animals and a garden complete with killer bees and deadly lawn-mowers. They have to cross the paths of robots, ghosts and insects. You name it, Frogger crosses it.
Among the multitude of dangers thrown in are collapsing floors, pools of lava, suits of armour, swinging axes and monkeys hurling coconuts. This is no easy feat for two little frogs.
As you move through the game there are coins to collect. Some of them are tucked away, but when you find them all you get access to extra levels and characters.
Power-ups come in the form of butterflies, which can be gobbled up using Frogger’s ‘Bug-seeking tongue.’ There are three types of butterflies. Some give extra lives and the others give you with a short-lived ‘Quick Hop’ and ‘Auto Hop.’ Extra lives are always a good thing, but neither of the special hops proved particularly useful. Multiplayer Mode also has a ‘Slow Hop,’ which can be used to slow down your opponent.
You are equipped with one more powers to help you find those babies. Using his ‘Power Croak’, Frogger can call to the little frogs. If you look out for the sound waves as the babies reply, you can find their location. This is a foolproof means of ensuring the player stays on the right track, although, none of the levels leave much room for error.
I have one major complaint about the game. Don’t get me wrong, Swampy’s Revenge is not a bad game. It’s just that once you’ve hopped your way through one level of automaton crossing your path at varying speeds, you’ve done them all. Marching ants become ghosts, but it’s still a case of look, wait and make a dash for it. (Wonder if this would be a good way of teaching kids to cross the street?)
I did find some replayability in ‘Frogs in Space.’ This is Frogger meets Wipeout. The action takes place in an open-top flying car, somewhere in space. You’re chasing Swampy around a twisty, turn-filled trail of stellar dust, or something. Swampy is chucking mines and rockets at you and it’s your job to avoid them, whilst collecting coins and babies. This level is hectic and fast-paced, which is what I like about it. I was most amused by the free-floating babies, who start waving their arms as you speed towards them. Unfortunately, these moments of energy are rare and it’s back to hop, hop.
‘The Ants Nest’ is a nicely designed level. Lines of marching ants stream in and out of tunnels as far as the eye can see. There’s a real sense of scale and depth, with nice touches, such as the odd ant carrying a leaf, which can be hopped on.
Okay, so it’s got cute graphics and some good levels, but this does not a great game make. I felt detached from Frogger and the plight of the babies. Mix this with the constant reloading and repetitive gameplay and there’s not much to draw you back.
Head to ‘Frogger’s Arcade’ and you get to play with all the bonuses opened up in ‘Story Mode.’ Here we have ‘Super Retro Arcade,’ which features 2-D variations on the original, for all those nostalgia junkies. Flat black screens and bright, blocky graphics are all present to bring your childhood flooding back. Then you remember the old flaws. Whenever you collect a baby, you’re sent back to the start point. Where’s the reward in that? I know, I know, if this nod to the past had not been included I’d be complaining, but it’s still not something that warrants extended play.
‘Multiplayer Mode’ had some fun moments, once I’d cajoled a friend into playing it with me. Our particular favourite was ‘Rescue the Babies’. It’s the familiar ‘old skool’ Frogger road, with babies on the other side. The best feature being the ability to hop on top of your opponent to stop his progress, whilst he waves his little arms and legs underneath you. It brings a smile to my face even now. Apart from that it is just another variation on an old theme.
So, who’s going to buy this game you might ask? It’s aimed at kids, but they don’t know who Frogger is, so I’d say it’ll be the nostalgia-seeking parents. If you love Frogger, then buy it. The retro levels alone will keep you amused. If you don’t really dig the amphibian thing, then you’re best off steering well clear. Given a choice I’d probably chuck my controller on the floor and head for the pub. Frogger 2 is a mildly distracting blast from the past, but it only gets 3 GiN Gems from me, because it’s repetitive and nothing new. Definitely, it is destined to be a budget title.