The only thing more amazing than Konami’s Frogger being 30-years-old is the fact that even after all that time he still hasn’t mastered the art of swimming.
Thankfully, Frogger Decades not only retains our green hero’s curious lack of amphibious powers but also sees fit to include much of the appealing gameplay that made the original so addictive three decades ago.
Naturally, the concept has been given something of a visual overhaul since 1981. Frogger and his world are now rendered in glorious 3D, with some of the finest graphical presentation we’ve seen on the iPhone in quite some time.
Leafy forests, smog-filled cities, Mayan temples, and pirate ships all await our web-footed protagonist, and each one presents its own set of unique and challenging obstacles.
The traffic-filled roads that were so iconic in the original game may have been side-lined a little, but the objective remains. Frogger was – and still is - about staying alive.
You need to move around the level negotiating dangers, avoiding oncoming enemies and – bizarrely for a pond-dwelling creature – making sure you don’t fall into any water.
Fish out of water
While he may not have earned his swimming badge, Frogger hasn’t been entirely lazy over the past 30 years. He’s got some new tricks up his sleeve, including a tongue-lash for collecting items and a super jump for crossing wide holes. He can also leap high into the air to grab dangling objects.
All of this is handled by a touchscreen interface which relies on gestures. For example, moving Frogger in a certain direction requires you to trace a line with your finger the way you wish to go.
Longer leaps are executed by holding down your finger on left-hand side of the display and then swiping.
You can also perform a gesture to tilt the camera slightly in order to get a better view of the action, and pinch-to-zoom is supported, as well.
Fingers and thumbs
The upside of this control system is that the developer has been able to fit quite a lot of complexity in, but the downside is that it’s all too easy to accidentally perform the wrong move just because you’ve placed your digit on the incorrect part of the screen.
A virtual D-pad control system is also available, but this is even more awkward to use and you’ll find yourself quickly reverting back to the imperfect - but far superior - swipe interface.
Fussy controls are the last thing you need with a game this fiendishly difficult. Frogger Decades is an old skool experience in more ways than one - it starts off challenging and becomes progressively more sadistic.
Thankfully, there are plenty of checkpoints to restart from in each level, and you have unlimited lives to play around with. These two elements ensure that Frogger Decades never becomes so annoying that you’re tempted to stop playing in a rage.
If you’re old enough to recall the original Frogger then this lovingly-produced celebration will push all of the right buttons. It manages to expand on the core Frogger gameplay without watering down the all-important difficulty.
However, it’s a game that is squarely aimed at the old skool player who doesn’t mind having to constantly re-play a particular level just to reach the other side. If you’ve got the patience of a particularly indifferent saint, then you may wish to look elsewhere.