- Looks great
- Includes both 24 new levels and the 24 classics
- Passable level editor
- Gameplay feels a bit dated
- A case of trial and error at times
I’ll be honest; I never played the original Superfrog. When it launched on Amiga way back in 1993, I was a five-year old and frogs were still slightly terrifying. So I’m going to look at Team17′s HD re-release as something of a new game, and take it for how it stands up against the platforming greats of today. What’s clear from the off is that it’s extremely well presented, with the smooth toon-style visuals looking really nice. However, the difference here is that the graphics weren’t produced in 1993 but the gameplay was, and unfortunately it shows.
My first impression was that the game is a poor man’s Sonic the Hedgehog, which is pretty much the case. While SEGA’s mascot’s outings have stood the test of time, Superfrog HD’s platforming sections feel less lovingly-crafted. Rather than dashing from the left of the level to the right, you’re required to scour levels searching for the right route, flicking switches to open doors and making your way to the Exit located somewhere in the level. You’re more or less funneled towards the end most of the time, but you still lose the sense of streamlined direction that would’ve made it all the more enjoyable.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, it’s just a very basic one. Running, jumping and throwing a little green blob at enemies is about as involved as it gets. All six Worlds have different themes but they’re based on the same re-skinned mechanics, neither of which present a massive challenge beyond a handful of cheap and infuriating deaths.
So much as scraping a spike results in an instant death, and when you’re moving at any great speed this becomes a massive issue. What’s baffling is that while this causes a life to be lost instantly, getting crushed by a falling block in the Egypt World results in just one of your five bars of health being depleted. The same level of trial and error gameplay applies to the dispatch of enemies too; some you can simply see off with a quick jump on their bonce, while others inflict damage should you even try it. There aren’t any visual clues for a lot of them, so only via rehearsal will you realise the error of your ways.
Despite the simple nature of Superfrog, perhaps one thing you can get from it is the number of secrets that you can discover each time you replay a level. There are upwards of 10 or so hidden areas per level, with routes obscured unless you walk directly into a wall. Within each of these you’ll find stashes of coins, fruit, power-ups and more which contribute to your score tally, with the big stashes crucial for bagging a three-star rating.
Despite this being a re-release, the levels in the main story are all completely redesigned. They of course use the classic template, but in terms of layout they’re fresh so even veterans won’t know their way around. For those wanting a slice of nostalgia, a slot machine mini-game in between levels offers you the chance to unlock each and every one of the original levels. Unfortunately there’s no option to play using the visual style of the Amiga version though, the modern visuals overlay each stage instead.
Finally, there are a couple of little bonus modes included too. Frog Trails turns the game into a straight Sonic-style speed-run from left to right, with routes littered with time extensions to aid you to cover as much ground as possible, and a decent Level Editor allows you to craft your own levels. The only problem with this is that levels can’t be shared online, so only locally will you get any use out of them. Still, it’s a nifty little feature that might be fun for an hour or two.
While Superfrog HD is a bit dated in terms of gameplay, it looks nice and is reasonably priced at £6.49 considering that includes both the PS3 and Vita versions. There’s a fair share of infuriating deaths, and the more exploration-based approached to platform isn’t something that will grab everyone, but it’s a faithful re-release that captures the spirit of the original. It’s not, and never was, anywhere near the calibre of true genre greats such as Sonic and Mario, but embrace Superfrog HD for what it is and you’ll have a “good” platformer. Just don’t expect a classic.