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Frogger Returns - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Frogger Returns

WiiWare | Konami | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points 
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (vertical)
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7th April 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

A series that could easily vie for the record of most re-releases and sequels, Frogger is certainly no foreign game figure. First introduced in the arcades in the year 1981, this little green frog sure has hopped a long way. Konami has decided to use the appeal of this classic game and bring it over to the WiiWare and DSiWare platforms. In this review, we'll be taking a look at the WiiWare version of Frogger Returns, exploring why this formula still hasn't grown old, even in this modern age.

    The game comes packed with 4 different modes for the solo player to "jump into". There's Arcade Mode, where you try to go through all the stages in the game with a set number of lives; Time Attack mode where you see how fast you can fill 5 bases in each level; Score Attack mode is exactly how it sounds; and Free Play, where you can play Frogger to your heart's content with no time limits. Each mode features its own separate division in the Rankings, which is great for increasing replayability. Since this release could've easily been cut down into one mode, it's nice that the developers added in more modes to extend the experience.

    Since the main formula has worked for so many decades, it would be silly to go overboard with new details. In each of the four stages, the idea is for you to guide an adventurous green frog to one of 5 bases at the end of each level. Once you reach this point, you'll be teleported back to the beginning and the cycle repeats until you lose all your lives or clear all 5 bases. On random instances, a pink frog will be resting on one of the obstacles that pass by, and if you bring it to the base you'll earn even more points. Along the way, you'll encounter cars, and even oppressive animals that will try to stop you from reaching your goal. But don't worry, you're not completely without help.

Unlike the classic arcade game, Frogger Returns features some item gimmicks that add a twist to the already-solid gameplay. The Freeze item, for example, will stop cars and enemies in their tracks, while the Reverse item will get them travel backwards. Invinicibility is easily the most useful of them all: you can use it to jump through just about anything for a short amount of time. Rather than ending abruptly, the game will give you warning signs when the effect is about to expire, which is great. Those that grew up with the classic game may be hesitant to give these a try, or even have a hard time seeing the usefulness of some of them. So that sort of crowd may get annoyed with the fact that they can't be turned off. Still, they do make the game easier for those who have never played a Frogger game before.

     Frogger will hop to the next spot for you once you press the desired button on the D-Pad in relation to where you wish to go. Straight-forward, in theory, but the controls in this game may seem odd when you first start playing. Rather than holding the Wii Remote NES-style like you'd imagine, you actually need to hold the controller vertically instead. It's rather strange that the developers didn't use a more recognizable control scheme that made more sense, or even allow room for Classic Controller support. Hopefully, you can grow accustomed to it after a while.

Frogger Returns also features 4 different modes where you can play with a friend. In 'Classic Race', the first one to claim three out of five bases in the level wins. This is likely going to be the most played mode of them all since it's arguably the most fun. In 'Territories' mode, you need to claim as many bases as possible before the 5-minute timer runs out. Since bases can be re-claimed, t's your job to keep a close eye on the action on-screen, getting ready to win back your lost base. In 'Collector', players collect flies scattered all around the level, and these will serve as bonus points when you make it to the end zone. 'Fly Feast' is essentially like Collector except that you don't need to go to a base at all. Because the main gameplay mechanics are practically thrown out the window, this option is definitely the least amount of fun. 

    The power-ups from the single-player mode take greater use in multiplayer battles. When properly timed, the Reverse item can be used to your advantage to trip up your rival. Unfortunately, you won't be warned when the invincibility shield wears off, which can be good for the other player, but it's likely to provide you with some frustration. To further add to the tension of the match, you can even jump over and squish your friend to frustrate them, forcing them back to the start. All of the multiplayer action takes place on one stage only, which can also be seen as a minor complaint that the developers didn't have more levels. Overall, not all of the two-player modes are fun, but the ability to play with a friend is a great feature and it's what makes this game a stronger purchase.

Although the game delivers on good gameplay, the same can't be said of the presentation values. You're treated to a nice looking menu screen when you first begin playing, along with a giant Frogger who looks rather weird-looking. Further, there are also strange character models for the dog enemies in the first level, which look like something out of Bruiser & Scratch. The visuals for the Sewer level use a muddy, green colour palette and this is also rather unattractive. Although the 3D gameplay does add a new sense of dimension, there are a few times where the camera can be attributed as the main cause behind a loss of a life, and this can be irritating. Thankfully, the multiplayer uses an aerial view which is not only more consistent with the classic game, but it also results in little-to-no unfair deaths.

    The visuals may appear a tad unappealing, but the music, on the other hand, sounds great. For instance, the theme for the first level conveys a "stroll through the park" feeling and the music for the Swamp stage consists of country-style elements. Each location has its own music track and some of them are quite catchy. Despite the trailer for this game claiming that it has "enhanced graphics", they're honestly not all that impressive. They do, however, include some nice retro elements (even the font used for the scoring) and the loading screens are quick. For those who may be playing for the first time or even those who have been playing Frogger for years, you might not even care that much.

    500 Points for only four levels may not seem like much, but when you consider the different single-player modes, and the motivating records table, Frogger Returns is a good buy. Not to mention, too, the multiplayer mode can be a lot of fun to play with a friend from time to time. The presentation may not be all there, and the controls could've used some re-thinking, but the game still maintains the appeal of the original release whilst incorporating some nice new elements. If you're a first-time player, a recent fan, or if you think you and a friend can have fun with the multiplayer, this casual-focused game should leave you satisfied.

21/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Classic Frogger with some new elements, power-ups don't go overboard, controls may appear awkward
Presentation 5/10 -Bland-looking in some areas, creepy character models, some murky colour choices, great music, retro elements
Enjoyment 4/5 - Single-player appeal is fairly high, nostalgic appeal, multiplayer can be a lot of fun with the right mode choice
Extra Content 5/5 - Nice selection of single-player modes, records for personal achievement, four multiplayer games, four main locales

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Frogger Returns
Review | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature | Interview


Review by KnucklesSonic8

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