In the 90s, there was a push for nostalgia. Digital Eclipse was paving the way with tons of arcade ports from a number of Atari, Midway, and Williams games. Namco was doing its Namco Museum series. In between all that was Frogger. A lot of things happened around 1997 and 1998 for Konami’s arcade hopper. In the fall of 1997, a new release on PlayStation came out, venturing into 3D and being extremely difficult. Later on, it would come out onto the PC.
Frogger would later be used as a plot device in April of 1998 with the appropriate episode title, “The Frogger” from Seinfeld, one of the show’s final episodes. With Majesco at the helm, the arcade game got a few more ports on dead systems. Much like it’s Sega Genesis counterpart, this Super NES version released as the final game for the system in North America. Unlike the Genesis version, this one has a different look and plays okay. My overall feeling is that it could pass off as another game if it didn’t use the Frogger name.
If we’re getting into the gameplay, nothing changed. The concept and premise is left unscathed. You hop a frog across traffic. Get past it and you get into the river. Hop on logs and turtles to get to the top of the screen to rescue one of five baby frogs. Get all five, rinse and repeat. Every time you advance to a new level, it gets more and more difficult. Cars will be faster and more aggressive.
Added hazards come your way as you venture through the river. Crocodiles are deadly, but so are snakes and beavers. Get hit by them, drown, hit an obstacle, or get run over by a car, you lose a life. Lose all of them, you get a game over. One of the surprising things is having a high score table (the top one is George, which could be a coincidence) after getting the game over. There is no battery backup, so it’s useless.
Around this time period, graphics meant to make arcade games beefier or look like the generation they were released in. Ms. Pac-Man is a prime example. However, it meant to emulate the arcade look, but in 16-bit form. That’s where I scratch my head at Frogger.
The Genesis version is practically identical. I don’t know if it has to do with licensing or anything, but it is a lot different looking on the SNES. It’s decent, but a bit off. My impression is that it is a bit cartoonish and clean. A bit of detail on the road and cars, especially the bus, is noticeable. The river has decent animation.
But overall, this could be one of those knockoff titles that people were seeing back on Windows 95 and 98. It doesn’t make it horrible by any means, but it definitely doesn’t take any big advantage of the hardware or even try to have the arcade graphics.
I’ve seen my share of disappointing audio, but this port of Frogger takes the cake by a mile for anything that is pre-NES. Just about every port had music. Even the very first ones on Atari and DOS had a small jingle in them. This has none of that. It can’t be because of Sega (who co-published the original arcade game), because the Game Boy version, released around the same time, had a small jingle to it. And it’s not like the SNES was incapable of doing arcade music. There’s very minimal sound effects, which are mostly death sounds and hopping. It’s one thing to get the game down correctly, but to possibly rush this without any music is sad.
Of course, there’s a few more things to discuss. Like always, you’re competing against the timer to rescue a frog and to gain a high score. Extra points also include getting a lady frog and eating a fly when you save a frog.You can play one player on your own or have two players. It is alternating turns, which was expected a lot for 80s arcade games. The controls are simple. Move the frog in one of four directions. It’s easy to understand. Nothing fancy.
Just because it’s different looking and plays identical, it doesn’t mean Frogger gets off easily. The music is a big complaint. But there’s more problems to it. If we are talking about difficulty, it is on par with the arcade game. However, it also has its share of cheapness in the form of bad hit detection. It is very iffy on where you land. You feel like you have enough space to move, only to find out you either were hit by a car, eaten by an animal, or touched a wall when you were going for the baby frog. That is my biggest complaint. The last one is more about eye strain. Some of those harder levels include faster cars and logs, and they come off as more faster than any other port. It might bother you. It might not.
In the pantheon of ports, Frogger on the SNES is not a bad game. That being said, it’s not a recommended one. If you do want it, try and find it for very cheap. There’s better arcade ports for the 16-bit generation, although this one isn’t that bad. Just be cautious on the issues that this version has.
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