Reviewed: January 21, 2004
Reviewed by: Mark Smith
Released: October 28, 2003
80ís arcade games just donít seem to want to die. They are either remade or re-released as part of classic retro anthology sets. In a few cases these games get the royal treatment and brought into the wonderful world of next-gen 3D gaming. Namco did it with Pac-Man and now Konami tries to do it with Frogger in Froggerís Adventure: The Rescue.
This is Konamiís second attempt to introduce our green little friend to PS2 gamers. In 2002 we had Frogger Beyond that was mildly entertaining but far from a successful release. Things have definitely gotten better for this new release, with gameplay elements that resemble the original 2D arcade classic cleverly woven into a quasi-3D platform game.
Frogger even gets a story with nifty CG movies. Merely crossing to the other side of the road isnít enough to drive an adventure. Frogger now has a girlfriend, Lily (snicker) who has been frog-napped, and a group of evil lizards are trying to take over Firefly Swamp. Youíll need all your jumping and sticky-tongue skills along with some helpful advice from Grandpa to get through this game.
Gameplay is a mix of arcade and action elements. Veterans of the original Frogger will instantly recognize the moving logs and lily pad puzzles. Control is unlike anything I have ever played in a game like this and it will require a bit of a learning curve for kids and older gamers alike. This is one of the few games I can advise using the D-pad for movement since the game is played from a top-down view and all moves are in the four cardinal direction.
Using the D-pad (or left stick) Frogger can move one space at a time in four directions. Pressing X will have him jump two spaces. This concept alone creates half the movement puzzles within the game. Frogger can also use his tongue to grab poles and pull himself across great distances or grab onto objects with handles and push or pull them to clear the path or create a jumping point. Youíll use the shoulder buttons to rotate Frogger since pushing the direction to either side will turn and move him. This concept takes some getting used to, especially when navigating single-spaced lily pads.
There are plenty of places to die and dying is much too frequent for a game targeted toward kids. Even though a careless misstep will send you back to the last checkpoint, too many of these missteps and its game over. I know I donít have the patience to keep restarting levels and your average pre-teen will quickly lose interest. Itís only made worse since most of the deaths are accidental and directly related to the unintuitive control scheme. And where on Earth did they find a frog than canít swim?!
There are plenty of game modes to choose from. The Story mode is the core of the game and serves not only to tell the story but unlocks plenty of extra stuff in the Challenge mode and Art Gallery. The Challenge mode lets gamers play through 28 levels from the Story mode in one of three variations. Time Attack has you racing to the finish for the best time while Coin Attack has you grabbing as much coinage as possible. Step Attack is a very challenging mode where you have to reach the end of the level in the least amount of jumps.
When you finish these challenges you are given a special code you can enter online and compare your hopping skills with anyone else wanting to exchange Frogger bragging rights. This is a nice feature that would be even better if the game just used PS2 Online. I seriously doubt how many gamers will actually take the time to write down the codes and enter them in on their PC.
There is also a multiplayer component that actually rivals the single-player game. In fact, this game might have been better marketed as a ďparty gameĒ. All games are four-player even if you donít have a multi-tap or four people in the room. The computer will take over for any non-human players in any of the innovative multiplayer games.
We are treated to some very nice graphics in the opening movie that reminded me a lot of the movies in the last few 3D Pac-Man adventure games. The characters have a unique look about them that make me thing Barney is either a purple frog or Frogger is a green dinosaur. There is also something a bit disturbing about a female frog with blond hair, breasts, and makeup. Is it wrong to find a frog ďsexyĒ?
Even though Frogger has moved into the world of 3D the gameplay is still unmistakably 2D. Shown from a top or slightly isometric view, Frogger in no way approaches the same level of 3D platform gaming as Namcoís Pac-Man World. Of course this view lends itself perfectly to the 4-way movement controls that are a signature part of the Frogger legacy.
In-game textures, graphics, and animation are rather primitive, only slightly exceeding sprite-level quality. It might have that Frogger ďfeelĒ but it certainly pales in comparison to anything else competing for your PS2 dollar. The kids this game was made for will probably be more forgiving than jaded reviewers such as myself.
The background music manages to embed some familiar bars from the original arcade classic and remain distinct through each of the levels. Music is upbeat and themed to the environments and there is suitably ominous music for the boss battles.
Sound effects are nothing more than you would expect, simple arcade noises when Frogger jumps, uses his tongue, or splashes into the water. Insects make appropriate buzzing and humming noises but everything is rather subdued and often drowned out by the music.
There is some decent voice acting considering the nature of the game. Itís all very cutesy and great for kids but anyone over the age of ten will probably find the script laughable at best.
Younger gamers will get about 10-12 hours of gameplay from the story mode while experienced gamers can get the job done in about half that time. The multiplayer component is easily the strongest aspect of this game and will entertain the family for countless hours. Itís nowhere near the caliber of something like Mario Party 5 but itís a lot of fun in its own way.
The Challenge mode is also a nice diversion and opens up 28 levels with three variations for each. The Internet Ranking system is a nice inclusion even though it probably wonít be utilized as much as the designers had hoped. There is a whole lotta game here for $30.
At the end of the day you will come for the single-player game and stay for the multiplayer modes. If the multiplayer modes donít interest you then you will want to rent or simply skip this title; otherwise there is something here for everybody to enjoy, and the budget pricing makes Froggerís Adventure: The Rescue an even more attractive purchase for parents looking for a family-friendly game.