If you don’t know what Frogger is, let me be the first to welcome you to the wonderful world of video gaming. (Try the power pellets, they’re scrumptious.) If you’re new to the game and just got broadband Internet in your cave dwelling or just wanting to relieve childhood memories, it’ll cost you 400 Microsoft Points for an Xbox Live Arcade download.
Frogger, as the name would imply, centers around the exploits of a frog trying to get home. Between him and his humble abode, however, are an increasingly busy highway and a river infested with snakes and alligators. This is an extremely brutal game: Frogger can be splattered, be killed by exhaust fumes, be killed by bushes, drown, be eaten by alligators, and be killed by snake venom. It’s tons of fun, for everyone but the frog.
The Xbox Live Arcade version of the game holds true to the format of the original arcade game - a little too true, if you ask me. Whereas Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge for the Playstation and Dreamcast had a nice, fluid motion and a full soundtrack, this game has neither: it’s about as stiff as the old game and other than some fun jingles now and then and Yankee Doodle (why?). Its Enhanced Graphics mode is pretty (and you’ll probably play that more) but it’s just really stiff. On a widescreen TV, the screen doesn’t take up much room (about one-third of the screen), but you can stretch it to about two-thirds (what it looks like on a 4:3 TV) with little-to-no squashing.
In fact, you’ll wonder why a $400 next-generation system couldn’t do Frogger better justice. The online modes are extremely choppy, and sometimes it ignores my button presses, sending me hurling into the corner of some shrubbery (pop goes the amphibian). For some reason, the online game insists on packing you and your opponent/ally into the same screen, which squashes both displays. The 360 also has trouble rendering two Froggers at once, which makes the game laggy as stated above.
Though, these complaints are mainly to do with the graphics. Other than some control issues, it’s still Frogger, and it’s still fun. In-game, you’ll only use the left stick or the directional pad to move your frog. The achievements are reasonably easy to get, and the ones that give you crap don’t feel impossible, and you feel like with enough practice you can get them all. It can be played same-Xbox with a friend, by yourself, or over Xbox Live. Also included is your standard Live leaderboards so you can see how l33t you are in contrast to the rest of the gaming planet.
The three multiplayer game modes are co-op, which has you and a friend working together with a combined score, Versus, which pits you against an opponent in a race to get the highest score (or to see whoever lasts the longest), and Versus Speed Mode, which tests who can finish a single level the fastest. Fantastic in theory, but honestly, why do I need to see what my opponent on Live is doing? Can’t I just mind my own business?
I like this game. I think my 400 Microsoft Points were well spent. However, it does have some flaws that are a result of simple design choices, and some flaws that are a result of a few programming glitches. If you’re a fan of retro games, or brutality towards frogs, go ahead and get it - the single-player is great. As always, you can try it out before you buy.
Final Score: 7 out of 10 - Above Average (how do we rank games?)