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|Rating:||3 out of 5|
Another great example less is more in arcade splendor. I couldn't resist Frogger's simple 4-way joystick taking a wary frog on a journey across vehicle-ridden highways and danger-filled rivers to one of his lilly pads at the top of the screen. It gets tricky to avoid being crushed or eaten.
Your frog waits patiently on the grass by the side of a busy highway searching for the right time to venture out into rush hour traffic in an attempt to get to the safe haven of his lilly pad at the top of the screen. Even if he crosses the highway, there's still a raging river full of logs, snakes and alligators to contend with. Oh yeah... you only have 30 seconds to cross both obstacles. It's not easy being green.
The graphics and sound are pretty good on the Atari 5200, but the game play suffers an odd decision by the developers. You'd think it would mimic Frogger's arcade controls - move the joystick to move the frog. Unfortunately, this simplicity didn't carry over to the Atari 5200 version of the game.
In an unconventional stray from "how a joystick normally behaves" Parker Brothers decided the joystick would select the direction you want your frog to jump and then press the bottom fire button to actually jump. What! - 2 gyrations to make a move? Yep. Having the fire buttons on a vertical plain makes general use of the controller difficult over long periods of time, but having to combine 2 actions makes me scratch my head wondering if I'm missing something. Perhaps I miss the arcade version. :)
All is not lost - there is another way to mak your frog jump. If you place the Frogger overlay on the controller's keypad you'll see the Joystick/Keypad selector. Pressing this key lets you use the keypad to make your frog jump based on the 4 button positions. This seems like an obvious necessity because the joystick-scenario sucked - although I'm sure there's a more technical explanation as to the dual control options.
You begin with 5 frogs awaiting their demise in the cruel world. Once play begins, the time band at the bottom of the screen displays the remaining time. Start hopping because the time ticks away even if you sit waiting for a gap in the traffic. ONce in the road your next respit is the river bank, but before you get there traffic travels in different directions and speeds. Someone needs to notify the Highway Safety Board about this traffic pattern, but I doubt the HSB has any jurisdiction over the bizarre currents in the river either.
The highway portion is pretty obvious - don't get run over and don't touch any of the moving vehicles. The river is less intuitive. You can jump onto the logs and remain safe. Turtles are similar, but they often dive under water, so make sure you don't stay too long on a turtle. Alligators and snakes are a bit dicey. You can ride on a alligator's back, but avoid his jaws. Snakes can be jumped on as they slither around, but avoid their heads.
As you leap about, you may see a pink frog appear. She's your mate and if you jump over her and get to the safety of the lily pad, you'll get a bonus. There is also a bonus if you jump onto a lily pad with a fly on it - free meal! Just make sure there isn't an alligator there instead. It may seem obvious, but you have to ump onto the lily pad... not near it. Touching the shrubbery is froggy death.
Levels change once you get a frog onto each of the 5 lily pads. On subsequent levels you'll find different traffic patterns on the road and fewer floating objects in the river. Occasionally a frog-eating snake will come after you - even on the sidewalk.
Frogger supports both 1 and 2-player games. On two player versions, each player can select a difficulty level on the keypad before their turn to play and can continue to play until they lose a frog.
I find using the keypad is the way to go with the funky dual-control options. Even the home-made 5200 joysticks I made don't help much because I chose not to mimic the 4 x 4 layout of the keypad buttons. Frogger is a fun game and the Atari 5200 version is pretty good and certainly worth a play - you'll become addicted!
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