Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition was stealthily released at the end of last week to celebrate Frogger’s 30th anniversary. Frogger has been gone for quite a while, but this release sets out to correct that, introducing both known and new game modes with this title. But is it a great return from Frogger? Will it succeed in placing him in the spotlight?
If you’ve played Pac-Man Championship Edition DX then you’ll have a clear idea of what Frogger is trying to bring to the table. It encompasses a bunch of old and new game modes, all wrapped up in a new package that allows you to pick anything from how the game controls, how it looks and what soundtrack plays while you take control of our little froggy friend.
Frogger was at its highest point during the 80′s, thanks to the popularity of arcades. After that it moved onto home consoles, and while it was popular at the time, it quickly faded into obscurity. Since then, companies have tried countless times to bring him back into the limelight with a plethora of sequels and spin-offs, for both handhelds and home consoles, but Frogger has never felt the same love that it received during the 80′s. With this release, Konami and Zombie Studios try to give Frogger a new coat of paint while still preserving what made it popular in the first place. In part they succeed, but Frogger will never be what it once was.
The game boasts a long list of different modes. In addition to the “Classic Mode” we’re all familiar with (get Frogger to cross the street, the lake, and reach the end), the game features another 7 additional modes.
- Tile Capture
- Challenge Mode
- Lady Frog Rescue
- Battle Royale
- Twin Frogger
- Frogger Freak Out
These modes mostly entail what the titles already clue you into. In Twin Frogger, you control two frogs at the same time with just one gamepad. Tile Capture has you playing what looks like classic Frogger, only this time you capture the tiles you step on on your way to the other side. Frogger Freak Out is a bunch of the single-player modes dished out at you one after the other.
The game also features 1-4 player multiplayer in its other modes, like Battle Royale, which sees various power-ups strewn across the stage. Sadly, this is a missed opportunity since the game only supports local multiplayer, not online. Frogger has always been a game you play surrounded by your friends, but in this day and age, one cannot always arrange these kind of play sessions, which is why online multiplayer would’ve been a most welcome addition to this package.
Apart from the various game modes, most of the changes to the game are found in the visuals and the sound design. Zombie Studios has created a varied assortment of visual styles from which you can choose from. They mostly consist of neon lights (very Tron-like), 8-bit, HD, and some inspired by classic games like Contra and Castlevania. Each style brings with it slightly different character models. All in all, they’re a welcome addition. What struck me most was the soundtrack. It seems heavily influenced by techno and dubstep, with many of Frogger’s classic tracks being remixed that way. But some of the tracks, at least to me, sounded like slight variations of popular songs from Daft Punk. They might not be, but they did sound very alike.
Sadly, this release isn’t without problems. The biggest of them is the collision-detection. I constantly found myself dying, to an annoying degree, because I moved forward and hit a car that had already gone by the tile.
Since the stages are basically grids, you expect to be safe if the source of peril has left the tile you’re planning to move onto, but that isn’t always the case, bringing with it a level of frustration that piles on top of a game that is already challenging to begin with.
Also, even with all the new mode additions, you can’t help but feel like you’ve played this game many times before, since it is the same Frogger we all know and some love, but with slight variations. And even though these gameplay wrinkles help give the game some freshness, it’s not long before that fresh coat of paint washes off and you’re left with just Frogger.
In the end, Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition is a competent release that manages to breathe a bit of new life into Frogger, but it isn’t amazing. Problems like lack of online, flakey collision-detection and a sense of deja vu leave this game being something that probably only long-time Frogger fans will love.