by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
I didn’t play the original Superfrog when it came out in 1993 because, well, I was two years old. People my age can rejoice though, as twenty years later we have a high definition remake. Superfrog was Team 17’s answer to the successful platformers of the day. Hoping to live up to the likes of Mario and Sonic, it tells the story of a prince who gets turned into a frog by an evil witch, as is the norm. Not only that, the witch has kidnapped his beautiful princess. Luckily our hero chances upon a drink which bestows upon him super powers, so he must quite literally hop his way through dangerous environments to get his love back.
Obviously it’s not going to be winning any prizes for its storytelling. Such a plot may have gotten by twenty years ago, but by today’s standards it is simply lacking. You can’t expect much to change for a game bearing the same name though. I have to imagine that this game is more of a fan service than an attempt at anything groundbreaking. The game spans six worlds, each with four new levels, but you can unlock each of the levels from the original game with the updated graphics. This is done via a slot machine at the end of each level, where you get three spins to win big.
Excellent level design and lots of stuff
The levels themselves aren’t simple left to right platforming sequences. One of the great draws of the game is how each level sprawls in all directions. You can bounce high into the sky, or delve deep into the depths of the earth. Each level has a multitude of hidden areas which unlock if you get close to the entrance. These secret places will bag you even more stuff than the stuff you find out in the world, because in the end Superfrog is all about collecting stuff. So much stuff. There’s fruit, coins, gems, blue bottles of liquid, orange bottles of liquid, wings and a little green blob and the game doesn’t explain what any of it does but it doesn’t matter because there’s just so much stuff!
I did eventually work out what was going on for the most part. Blue bottles make you invulnerable for a short while. Orange ones grant you a chunk of health back. The wings let you glide softly downwards after a jump and you can chuck the little green blob to defeat enemies. You’ll also run over speed boosts, or things which reduce your speed. As for the other collectibles, it seems they just give you more points, which is fine, I like a little variety in my pickups. You’ll get a star rating out of three at the end of each level, and your overall score will be added to the global leaderboards, as well as a separate score list for your Steam friends.
Simple and easy gameplay
The platforming isn’t all that difficult. If you bump into enemies then you’ll lose a chunk of life, and if you fall onto spikes or into fire then you will lose a full life and restart at a checkpoint without any of your power-ups. Most of the difficulty comes from you simply not seeing the dangers which lie ahead. The screen is usually so cluttered with the aforementioned stuff, that the small little worm goes unnoticed. Or you might be travelling so fast thanks to the speed boosts that you just don’t have time to change course. This would be frustrating if you didn’t have so much leeway with your health. One thing I did find annoying was that the hit boxes on enemies and spikes alike were a little vague.
When you complete each world you will come up against the witch in a series of increasingly difficult encounters which combines jumping and firing Spud, your little green blob friend. Again, these aren’t hard, and are simply a case of learning the pattern in which she flies around the screen. Beyond the main game, you can also participate in Frog Trials, where you must simply go for as long as you can. You have a short time limit, but by collecting pickups you can increase your time. As for the game mode itself, guess what? You’ll be collecting a lot of stuff.
The graphics and soundtrack reinforce the child-centric themes. The art style is cartoony in the way we have come to expect from Team 17. Each of the six worlds has a distinct theme. You will begin in a calm meadow, and progress through a haunted mansion, a circus, Egyptian temples, ice caves and into an industrial area. The music is light and cheerful for the most part, set up right from the start with a play on Greensleeves over the opening cutscene.
Superfrog HD isn’t a game which pushes the boundaries of what the genre is capable of. In fact I doubt it ever intended to. What you do get is a cute little platformer which I believe would be a great introduction to the genre for kids. Or, if you have a particular nostalgia for the original, this is the only way you’re going to get more of that super frog. However, if you want complexity or a real challenge, this is probably not the game for you.
Good for kids, or adults who remember playing the original.
Not all that challenging. Platforming isn’t up to today’s standards