Re(?)Considered: Frogger's Adventures: Temple of the Frog
Konami's famous frog spawned a franchise
I've been writing for Retronauts for what, two and a half years? And I've only just got around to talking properly about Frogger. The absolute state of me. As any fule kno, I'm the guy who keeps buying all the new Frogger games, and consider myself solely responsible for the franchise's omnipresence between the PlayStation and PS3 eras. This may seem unlikely, but I paid roughly £15,000,000 for each game, as a show of appreciation for Konami's then-commitment to frogs.
Following the (ruddy excellent) Froggers on PlayStation, the series in its finest form continued on the GBA, with a series of top-down 2D tile-based adventures for the ages. Okay, maybe not for the ages, but they were pretty good, and Frogger's Adventures: Temple of the Frog was the first of these. There's a story of some description, but it's boring, stupid bollocks so I will be ignoring it wholesale. A frog does some stuff. Tile-based action gameplay ensues.
Have you played Chips Challenge? It's reminiscent of the more reflexes-based stages of that PC/Lynx classic, where each motion has you step a single tile. You've also got a "hop" move, which effectively skips a tile as you leap in whichever direction you're facing. Hitting the L and R buttons lets you rotate anti-clockwise and clockwise, respectively, in order to line up your jumps. Finally, there's a next-to-useless tongue move which allows Frogger to slurp up butterflies, granting an extra life.
The fun of it all comes from the challenging level design and enemy patterns; taking its cues from the PS1's Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge, with the arcade original's repetitive gameplay a forgotten memory. This is a straightforward action game - among the more linear games in existence, I'd argue - in which you've simply got to dodge stuff as it moves around in strict patterns. It's so simplistic it could be played on a calculator with very little variation. It's very creative in terms of how it presents its few elements, but never deviates from this basic, meat-and-potatoes action gameplay.
Which is the strength of the Frogger series, really; anyone can play it. The strangest thing is, though, the games are bloody difficult - limited lives, and usually single-hit kills make them something of an ordeal to get through, and worst (best?) of all, there's no way to mitigate it - you'll either survive on your own skill, or you'll fail from your own incompetence. They're defiantly old-school in this respect, and it's always unusual to me that there were so many of them - my understanding is that the PS1 Frogger sold a lot of copies (3.4 million in the United States alone), which I can only imagine is the catalyst for so many sequels with similar gameplay. The Gamecube alone had three near-identical Froggers. It's so strange that there were so many of these, yet nobody seems to talk about them or hold them in any real affection.
Well, I think it's interesting, anyway. I find the whole thing absolutely ribbiting.