Reviewed: December 15, 2003
Released: November 13, 2003
I confess I am a bit too young to have played the original Frogger in the arcades when it first appeared, but thanks to the resurgence of retro gaming and compilation CDís I have had plenty of opportunities to partake of the simple yet undeniably addictive practice of moving a tiny green frog across a highway and a river.
Much like Pac Manís move from 2D arcade to 3D adventure, Frogger has also made the trip to next-gen console gaming and Konamiís new release, Froggerís Journey: The Forgotten Relic is the latest adventure of our intrepid green friend.
Froggerís Grandfather has vanished and itís up to you to find out what happened. Thus begins an epic journey across 18 unique environments. There has never been a Frogger game with a bigger story and the introduction of new RPG-style elements, new moves and power-ups makes this the deepest Frogger yet. But just how deep does a Frogger game really need to be?
Konami has taken the 18 challenging arcade-style levels and interspersed them with lengthy drawn out adventure-style segments that even include RPG elements to artificially inflate the total game into something of near-epic proportions. So while you might be wanting a quick arcade interlude you end up with ďFrogger Meets DiabloĒ Ė well, not quite. You will be doing a lot of exploration and a lot of talking to other characters to slowly reveal the story and allow you to advance to the next level.
The story, as I already touched upon, revolves around Froggerís missing Grandfather. Yes itís weak and barely holds the game together but do we even need a story to give us incentive to jump from Lilly pad to rock and rock to log. Just build us some good levels and we will play. The story and the between-mission character interaction is obviously out of place and downright boring. And donít think you can mash the button and skip through the story. By design the game insists that you follow certain plot points to access the various levels.
Once you do make it do an arcade level the fun begins but there is something just a bit too easy about this game. Frogger now has a health bar and takes damage when something hits him rather than turning into an asphalt pancake. And while it is still possible to die, there is so much fruit (health) lying around the levels you can almost always regain any lost health at will. This makes a great game for kids but anyone older than 12 will be sorely disappointed.
The Forgotten Relic has some wonderful graphics, bright and cheery with vibrant colors and crisp textures. The graphics are as simple as the gameplay and the GBA manages to deliver quality visuals that demand a better game to drive them.
Some of the characters are quite inventive and even charming, and there are some interesting animations for Frogger and his new moves like the grapple and warp.
The music is as cheerful as the graphics and while it does grow a bit repetitive at times itís no more annoying than any of the other Frogger games that have come before it. The sound effects are especially nice with a good variety and they all sound very clean and authentic to the visuals they enhance.
Expect 10+ hours to finish this game although much of this time will be spent in those boring adventure/RPG segments. There are plenty of secrets to discover, side stories to explore, and mini-games to conquer. Itís a solid effort in delivering some good content.
Froggerís Journey: The Forgotten Relic might make a decent rental or budget purchase for the kids, but most of us will have more fun digging out the original arcade classic and playing those challenging levels without all the clumsy ďimprovementsĒ.
Looking back at my few days with my green little friend I have to admit I had some fun, but that fun comes at too high a price for most of us. The arcade segments are often way too easy and the sections between the action are way too boring. Itís just an uneven and awkward gaming experience that only the youngest of gamers or the biggest of Frogger fans will enjoy.