Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition Review
Game: Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition
Developer: Zombie Studios
Available on: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare (Reviewed on PlayStation Network)
It’s become custom these days to commemorate anniversaries of gaming “franchises” by doing something a bit special. Nintendo dressed up their classic Ocarina of Time for the 3DS, and dropped Skyward Sword for our enjoyment, to celebrate 25 years of Link. Capcom marked a quarter century of Street Fighter by launching some collectable toys, and hosting prize-laden tournaments around the globe. Now is the turn of golden era arcade banger Frogger, the road-crossing amphibian who, this year, turns 30. It would be pushing things a little far to describe the ensuing three decades worth of Frogger titles as a storied legacy of quality, most of the sequels and spin-off titles have been decidedly awful, with the exception of a certain Seinfeld episode. Nobody needed a 3D Frogger platformer, hell, nobody ever needed the amphibian to develop a bloody personality. Furthermore nobody needed to play again with a title as unwieldy and crap as Frogger: Helmet Chaos, but the same sorts of things had been said of the done-to-death Pac-Man series when it was given the Championship Edition treatment, and we all know how that turned out. Can developers Zombie Studios take the beautiful simplicity of the arcade original, and offer us something as thrilling as Namco Bandai’s classic update?
I am pleased to announce that in standard mode, the old-school, score chasing gameplay of O.G Frogger is intact. You still have the same aim of guiding the little fella, using only the four direction controls (which can be via the analogue stick, D-Pad or even face buttons) from the bottom of the screen to the top, avoiding traffic as you cross the road, and various denizens of the river as you hop on moving logs, turtles and lily pads. With an option to play the game with the original arcade graphics, or the snazzy new skins available, it looks great. There are some unlockable stage skins based around other titles such as Dance Dance Revolution, Contra and Seany fave Castlevania, and while these will take some getting used to, in terms of learning which areas are hazardous to your froggy health, they are excellent additions and even come with their own soundtracks. Never did I think I would be playing Frogger whilst rocking out to a Castlevania tune, but here I am. What an age we live in.
Another new inclusion is the option of an alternative control method whereby, just like Pac-Man, pushing the stick in one of the four directions will result in continuous movement, rather than having to tap the stick each time you hopped.
There are a plethora of new modes to try. Twin Frogger puts you in charge of two frogs that move in tandem, Paint asks you to colour in tiles on each stage to reveal an image, in a Q-Bert style. Lady Frog Rescue involves rescuing your green skinned squeeze over the course of a stage. Battle Royale is easily the best of the bunch, a multiplayer mode, either with friends or bots, where you compete to rescue the Lady Frog before hopping on as many tiles as possible to increase your bulk and then crush your foes. It is excellent fun against A.I. opponents but really comes into its own when playing with friends. Sadly, the game only supports offline multiplayer, but there are leaderboards so you can post your top scores for all and sundry to see; and even try and outscore George Costanza.
The lack of online modes is not the only bugbear. Frogger is a bloody difficult game to begin with, but the core of the gameplay has been the same since 1981, the game screen is essentially a grid, with four ways of movement, and every moving object in the game following a strict rule of moving one “square” at a time. Your job is to use these rules to hop safely into the end-zone.
Hyper Arcade Edition unfortunately suffers from some suspect collision detection at times, which led to me being squished on more than one occasion by a car I presumed had already passed by me within the “grid”. It is a real pain in the arse.
VERDICT: Look beyond the little flaws though, and you have a great arcade game here, and quite easily the best modern interpretation of Konami’s classic arcade experience, a game that I first played myself a staggering 27 years ago. It has plenty of ways to get your frog-based thrills, looks terrific, and has some great unlockable content including Trophies, skins and music tracks. For the meagre price tag, this is as worthy a purchase as either of the excellent Pac-Man updates, and while it doesn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of the crack-cocaine like Championship Edition DX, it is still a top quality effort.