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Review by: David Laprad
Published: December 27, 2000
I was dumbfounded when the first Frogger, released for the PC and original PS console, sold close to 4 million copies. The game was supposed to be a fizzing, bubbling tribute to the arcade classic, but instead inspired more PC-pounding rage than I care to admit. Full of bugs, riddled with unfair puzzles, and topped off with a third-person camera that had no sense of direction, I was unable to fathom how gamers had found the product entertaining. It was that bad. That said, Frogger was a tremendous success, and there was no second-guessing at Hasbro when it came to producing a sequel. Indeed, a follow-up was a no-brainer, though two questions remained: Had success blinded Hasbro to Frogger‘s problems? Or would the publisher fine-tune the all-important mechanics that separate good arcade games from bad ones?
The simplistic plot behind Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge‘s Story Mode has our hero rescuing frog babies stolen at the hand of Swampy the Crocodile. There’s not much more to the scenario than that, but it’s enough to get our long-legged hero tossed into the pond for another search and rescue mission. Joining him in his puddle-hopping exploits is a new female friend, Lillie, who has her own maps to complete. These two face both simple and lunatic arcade challenges while doing one of three things: jumping, jumping or jumping. The basic mechanics consist of pointing a frog north, south, east or west and leaping in that direction while avoiding obstacles, though Frogger and Lillie are capable of certain Super Abilities. For example, there’s a Super-Hop that springboards into some nice tension-building jump puzzles, as well as the patented tongue lash for snagging power-ups and extra lives. A single swipe of Frogger’s taste buds is all that is needed to gobble up such glittering goodies as Fast Hop and Extra Life. Spinning coins can also be collected for bonus points–and to access hidden extras, such as bonus characters for multiplayer games.
If the sequel is starting to sound too sugarcoated for its own good, rest assured Hasbro has some shrewd surprises up its sleeve. There are ten chapters in the solo game totaling 17 maps; each section has its own graphical theme, enemies and distinct challenges. Although there are more enemies and traps than I can recount here, Hasbro introduces new twists and hazards throughout the game so that the action remains fresh. The basic approach for each map has Frogger or Lillie rescuing up to six frogs. This simple foundation is used to create some resourceful moments, such as Lillie dashing for dear life from a huge, lumbering boulder a la Indiana Jones, or Frogger side-hopping rolling stones while leaping from disappearing platforms to reach an imprisoned frog. Perhaps the most ingenious sequence has Frogger bolting across the top of a spaceship while it rides a particle stream, twisting and turning through asteroids as Swampy soars ahead in his own ship, launching a lethal trail of missiles and mines.
As with most of the maps, beating this sequence requires us to memorize the timing and direction of the jumps. Sometimes, this can be simple to accomplish, as when Frogger or Lillie must dodge such hazards as rampaging armadillos and lawn mowers–although running Frogger under a lawn mower can be part of the fun. However, this process gets far more challenging, as when Lillie must wind around the perimeter of a large tower while executing an intricate series of power jumps off disappearing platforms, leaps through timed electrical fields, and hurdles over enemies. There are also times when the action slows down for a moment and requires a bit of brainpower. For instance, one clever sequence in a science lab has Frogger leaping past opponents that hop one square closer to him each time he jumps.
I imagine it’s hard at this stage for arcade game designers to come up with original settings, but the team does a good job of implementing unique graphical themes through Frogger 2 and infusing them with challenges that fit each setting. Some of the locales include a garden area, an ant settlement, a science lab, outer space, subterranean passages filled with molten liquid, a haunted house and more. In the latter, Frogger must leap across coffins moving downstream instead of the standard trees and turtles, a nice change of pace.
In addition to the Story Mode, a number of extras were included, such as an Arcade Mode and a series of Super-Retro maps that can be accessed once other portions of the game are completed. The retro maps features the garish top-down 2D graphics of the ancient arcade machine, and some interesting variations on this theme were incorporated, such as running against a stream of cars instead of vertical to it. The Arcade Mode features the same set of maps as the Story Mode, but with the inclusion of a timer. From reading all of this, it sounds as though Hasbro has stuffed their sequel full of gaming goodness. But is that the case?
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