• With a rictus grin set firmly across my face, I approached Frogger 2 with that recent litany from Microsoft ringing in my ears. “We’re clearing the decks” they said. “We’re ditching a whole load of junk from the Xbox Live Marketplace to ensure better quality releases have room to breathe.”

    Quite what their parameters are for measuring quality releases is unbeknown to me, because somehow Konami slid this nightmare game through unnoticed. What’s more they deemed to charge you, the games buying public, 800 points for something so dreadful that you wouldn’t even play it for free on a Shockwave Gaming site.

    Frogger 2 is the semi-sequel to the ‘classic’ arcade title from 1981. Amazingly enough, there have been several Frogger 2 games, in fact I was gobsmacked to learn that in total there have been two others bearing the name “Frogger 2” (one released back in 1984, and humorously subtitled “Threedeep” and released back in 2000 subtitled Swampy’s Revenge, but having nothing to do with unwashed road protesters, sadly).

    So here we are, third attempt to produce a sequel to a game that people stopped playing 25 years ago or more, and probably didn’t sell that well when it was revived for the XBLA originally. Why then? Why why why was Frogger 2 ever spewed into existence?

    Frogger 2

    Frogger 2 sets the tone early on with one of the most bum-wigglingly annoying tunes possible, a tune that doesn’t quit when the game gets started and sounds like the greatest hits of CeeBeebies on acid (thank heavens for the mute button on the telly because the sound effects add nothing to proceedings either). From there, you can choose to wade through Single Player mode, or try (in vain) to find people you dislike enough to challenge them to some multiplayer action.

    Story / Time attack in Single Player mode allows you to work through the main quest. A tiddly cute little alien called Pico has crash landed in Firefly Swamp. Frogger, being the accommodating type, decides to help out and your quest across various scrolling Frogger-esque levels is to track down all the broken parts of Pico’s UFO so he can weld them all back together and get away from you as fast as possible.

    The action begins in time honoured fashion. For some reason Frogger seems to be mildly hydrophobic. Yes that’s right folks, an amphibian that can’t stand water and dies as soon as he touches it. In fact Frogger’s world is fraught with danger, not just because of the various nasty creatures inhabiting it that want to turn you into frog-bait, but because the game’s collision detection is so pitifully awful that you’ve only got to put one foot wrong and you’re dead, seemingly for no reason.

    Mild irritation gives way to waves of frustrated swearing and annoyance as Frogger dies for the umpteenth time. It’s not that the game’s particularly difficult, and does at least have a checkpointing system built in so that you can pick up your game where you left off (yep that’s right, you can give up some of your precious hard disk space to save your progress if you ever intend on playing the thing more than once). No it’s more that it’s so sloppily executed that even reasonably skilled gamers will spend more time fighting with the dreadful controls than dying at the hands of the swamp’s fiendish denizens.

    The simplistic controls you’re probably used to with other Frogger games have been added to, so you can now extend your froggy tongue to pick up coins, bonus life icons and musical notes during your quest. You can also shuffle on the spot and rotate your frog where he sits, using the RB and LB buttons. Directional controls are the same as they’ve always been.

    Had this game been released back in 1982, trading in on arcade mania and the first game’s reasonably cultish status amongst pimply faced gamers who would’ve marvelled at how sophisticated it felt back then to control a frog moving through a dayglo landscape, it would probably have been a game that featured in various “Top 100 games of all time” lists. But this is 2008. 26 years on, gamers – even those spending a bit of pocket money on Xbox Live Arcade – expect more and deserve more from companies with pedigrees like Konami. It seems ironic that I played this in the same week as Metal Gear Solid 4, as you couldn’t have two games more far removed from each other.

    I can’t even recommend Frogger 2 to younger players, mainly because I wouldn’t want to be held responsible for any cases of 7 year olds going on the rampage and throwing hefty Xbox 360 controllers through the screens of their parents’ nice new HD televisions.

    With absolutely no redeeming features at all, Frogger 2 languishes at the silty bottom of the pond and there it shall stay until the swampy mire that blarted it into existence reclaims it as its own.

    Score: 1/10

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