Wednesday 12 April 2017

Frogger (Colecovision review)

Developer: Parker Brothers
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Released: 1983

Frogger is an action game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1981.

Your mission is to avoid vehicles on the road, cross the river safely and reach the home bay; do this five times and you complete the level. Each attempt is timed and if the clock reaches zero (or you're squashed by the traffic) you lose one of your five lives. Any remaining time is added to your score, and additional points can be obtained by collecting Lady Frogs and flies. It's impressive how closely this port resembles the Arcade version, down to the music, vehicle patterns and enemy progression. Despite missing one of the five lanes of road traffic, and being converted from portrait to 4:3 format everything works remarkably well. The controls are fantastic, allowing you to make last second movements with precision. However, it's not always obvious how close you can be towards the edge of a log / turtle before falling into the water. The timer for each frog is a great touch that adds much needed tension to encourage you to take risks and refrain from playing it safe. Likewise, the bonus items are ideal for experts, as they tempt you into taking tougher routes! The first two levels are moderately easy, but things ramp up in Level 3 where snakes are introduced; they move so quickly and block so many routes that it's a maddeningly addictive challenge to outwit them! While it's absolutely no fault of this port, one of my personal bugbears with Frogger is that there's no variety in the locations or level layouts; this makes you feel like you're doing the same thing with only marginal enemy differences, and it's a far cry from multi-screen games of its time such as Donkey Kong (1981, Arcades).
Frogger is a faithful port of the Arcade classic with terrific gameplay, smooth controls and a perfect level of difficulty. While it doesn't have a great deal of longevity due to the static stage design, there's still a lot to enjoy, particularly if you're a fan of simple, high score action games.
Random trivia: A multi-screen sequel called Frogger II: ThreeeDeep! was released on the Colecovision in 1984.

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