Game Reviews

Frogger (iPhone)

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Frogger (iPhone)

Zoologists have been screaming about the collapse of amphibian populations worldwide recently, an alarming trend that has resulted from rising temperatures in the tropics. Heat, it would appear, is killing our precious frogs and salamanders at a distressing rate. How ironic that Konami's Frogger would so aptly mirror this sad phenomenon. Hoping to capitalize on the hottest handheld around, Frogger ends up collapsing under the spotlight.

The goal in Frogger is simple: guide five frogs through streets and streams littered with obstacles to reach a clearing. You start off at the bottom of the screen, moving your amphibian avatars hop-by-hop towards the safe zone at the top. A level is complete only when you've moved all five frogs into the five spaces at the top of the screen.

Mind you, it isn't as easy as just prodding them across the finish line. Cars and trucks zip down the highway, eager to squish your creatures. Successfully weave through traffic and you face a stream littered with floating platforms, snapping crocodiles, water snakes, and otters. Timing your movements is vital to making it to the clearing alive. Of course, you can't take your sweet time since a timer counts down the few moments you have to guide your pals to safety.

On iPhone, directing your frogs through traffic and across platforms can be done one of the three ways: by tilting the device, flicking your finger across the screen, or tapping in the desired direction. Alas, Frogger utilizes the accelerometer in the most atrocious way possible, destroying any sense of control over your frogs. Tilting the phone not only obscures view of the screen, but it often doesn't register movement to your frogs.

Don't let the flick of a frog's tongue fool you into thinking that the flick controls are the way to go, either. Flicking is far too aggressive of a gesture for such a simple game. When your finger flies across the surface of the screen only to move one square, it feels unnatural. Really, tapping in the direction you want to move is the best way of controlling your croaker.

Where Frogger truly falls apart is in the lack of gameplay features. Only one mode of play is offered along with a high-score list. That's it. There aren't any online leaderboards, no speed trials, no stage select options – absolutely nothing beyond the bare minimum. This enables the iPhone version to stay true to the original arcade game, perhaps, yet it makes Frogger horrible value given the asking price. Currently, the game is only available in the US for an obscene $7.99 (and that's down from the original $9.99).

It's the pricepoint that causes Frogger to collapse more than anything. The tap interface works well enough to make the moments spent with the game's sole mode of play enjoyable; however, those moments are brief since there's limited gameplay to be had here – nothing has been done to evolve the classic gameplay. More content, tuned controls, and a lower price tag could have saved this dying breed.

Frogger (iPhone)

Konami endangers this franchise by offering an overly familiar and disappointingly meagre game experience that's unable to justify the asking price