Received: July 11th, 2018 / Written: August 1st-5th/8th-15th, 2018
(As played on Game Boy Player)
Alternate Title: Frogger: Kodaibunmei no Nazo [ ⬤ ]
Year: 2003 | Developed by: KCE Hawaii | Published by: Konami
Disclaimer: May contain spoilers
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and not taking another several months before writing my next review like the last two times.
Image from WikipediaOn June 5th, 1981 Japanese arcades saw the release of a little game called Frogger which was developed by Konami but was released there by Sega as they had distribution rights, seeing a release in American and European arcades in October 1981 and August 1982 respectively (with the former localized version released by Sega-Gremlin); the gameplay was simple as you had to lead five frogs to their home at the top of the screen, one at a time, while evading being run over by oncoming cars as well stay out of the water as you maneuver yourself in the river full of hazards lest you start over from the bottom--oh, and there's a timer going against you so don't dawdle too long.
It was a huge hit on release and has been regarded as a classic from the golden age of coin-operated games; it's also done so well that it got converted to many video game consoles at the time (even in the following decades, for ports of it were the last games released for the Genesis and SNES in America in 1997 and 1998 respectively... odd choice), found itself in popular culture (among them the shortlived 1983 CBS animated series Saturday Supercade and featured a cameo in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph and Chris Columbus' Pixels), as well as influence and inspire other games with its simplistic obstacle-dodging hopping formula.
Images from WikipediaSome popular examples being the classic Activision games Freeway and Frostbite on the Atari 2600.
Image from WikipediaFrogger was also successful enough to garner a computer/console-exclusive sequel developed by Parker Brothers in 1984 in the form of Frogger II: ThreeeDeep! (aaand I'm just realizing that the subtitle may be a play on "3D")--but it's only been made available on the Apple II, Atari's 2600, 5200, and 8-bit systems, the Commodore 64, the ColecoVision, and the PC Booter.
More than a decade had passed as interest in Frogger had been renewed with the successful 1997 SCE Cambridge Studio-developed remake released by Hasbro Interactive (and would end up becoming the 25th best-selling game on the PlayStation One) in spite of its mixed reception. Still, it did well enough to warrant an eventual sequel in its own right in 2000 courtesy of Blitz Games with Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge.
Image from WikipediaOn November 2001 the subsequent installment of the Frogger series would debut on the PlayStation 2 in the form of series makeover Frogger: The Great Quest which would see a Windows PC conversion in 2002. This was... not a particularly well-received game (apparently, from what I gathered, it's not very good), but it was notable for several reasons: it was first game in the series done entirely by Konami (in this case, KCE Papa Yeti Studio), it was the first in the series to be set in a 3D environment, and it was the first game to have Frogger appear as a bipedal character with clothes, so it is an important iteration in the franchise considering the next several years' worth of entries. And, uh, yyyeah, he doesn't exactly look appealing in the cover, but thankfully Konami updated his look for the better within the following year (as those games in particular would be done by Konami's Hawaii division with a couple exceptions).
Several games after the fact--following 2001's handheld Frogger's Adventures: Temple of the Frog, 2002's Vicarious Vision's Frogger Advance: The Great Quest on the Game Boy Advance, the console game Frogger Beyond, Frogger's Adventures 2: The Lost Wand, and 2003's console game Frogger's Adventures: The Rescue--came along Frogger's Journey: The Forgotten Relic on the Game Boy Advance, developed by KCE Hawaii, on November 4th, 2003, which would see a Japanese release in June 2004 as Frogger: Kodaibunmei no Nazo. So let's get hopping and see what this game is all about.
The game begins in Firefly Swamp where Frogger is lounging on his lawn chair by his home, but he's feeling tired of resting and wishes that something exciting would happen. Dude, your last stint was last week (Frogger's Adventures: The Rescue came out on October 28th)! Since when did you become Adol Christin who yearns for adventure on a constant basis?
But faster than you can say "be careful what you wish for", a biplane suddenly flies his direction which he evades in the nick of time as it wrecks his lawn. You'd think it was piloted by Launchpad considering the not so smooth landing.
He doesn't even apologize for the property damage he just caused--uh, rude! >=(Emerging from the recently crashed plane is the delivery eagle Griffith who for some reason thought it was a good idea to land here on his plane even though he saw that the runway was small after the fact. =/ Anyway, he hands Frogger a letter addressed by his archaeologist grandfather Dr. Finnius inviting him on an adventure in the distant town of Kabohti given how much Frogger enjoyed exploring the dig sites years prior. This excites the frog because it means more adventure to embark on so he happily gets flown there by Griffith.
After landing in the harbor Frogger decides to look around for his grandfather in Kabohti, but he's nowhere in sight.
There he meets a vixen named Leona, a friend and assistant to Dr. Finnius, and gives Frogger his grandfather's memo and a keystone with magical hidden powers within, but prior to that she wishes Frogger a happy birthday as it just so happens to be his special day. Well, that's wonderfully thoughtful and nice! =)
19th, technically, as Namco Hometek's Pac-Man World was made in 1999Certainly more preferable than arriving home only to find that his family and friends have been taken on his anniversary therefore ruining his big day like it happened in Pac-Man's 20th.
Leona is a little concerned, though, because Dr. Finnius left two days prior and has not returned, so she asks Frogger to look for him. He decides to search for the dig site right next to the town on the left where he sees a mysterious door with two mysterious rocks beside it, but before he can look any further he's met by the unsubtly slimy and evil millionaire Eric von Wiesel (and two chameleon men that we never see again after this scene) who mocks Frogger and Dr. Finnius and warns against pursuing in his footsteps. Once he leaves, Frogger's keystone starts shining which destroys the rock on the left which makes the round relic fall which he picks up.
He shows Leona the relic that he found in which she tells Frogger that he found an OPART which is what Dr. Finnius was looking for. She tells Frogger to bring it to the Bearded Collie mechanic Dusty in the rear end of Kabohti.
As he takes it there, he fixes the OPART for Frogger which he now carries on his back. Dusty charges him 20 Curio, but since he's not from Kabohti he's not familiar with the currency, to which Dusty says they'll be even once Frogger procures the toolbox in the basement (with the framed classic 1981 Frogger sprite hanging right next to the entrance below) which is where you learn some of the game's controls.
Now that Frogger has got at least one ability to aid him thanks to the OPART he can now explore some of the regions of Kabohti, where even more locations are waiting to be explored and more relics are waiting to be found to upgrade the OPART, and the more abilities he gains the closer he'll get to finding Dr. Finnius and learn the history of Kabohti (and the OPART) as well as put a stop to Eric von Wiesel, who's obviously up to no good. Frogger's journey has just begun.
Look, a Country Bear! That must mean that
Christopher Walken is nearby
The first one you start off with is the Long Jump which will enable you to cross single-spaced gaps by jumping long distances, and is one of the most vital tools you'll use throughout the game when it warrants it; especially when there are moving platforms (sometimes you must jump from one of those to another) so you must time your jumps properly.
The second tool is the Flashlight which must be assigned in one of the buttons to add a big light around Frogger in dark rooms (including some secret rooms). That's all there is to that.
The third tool is the Mega Claw which can reach items from far away and pull certain platforms towards you (namely ones with the arrows pointing to where you're pulling them from). Eventually once you get the anchor then Dusty will upgrade the Mega Claw to a Grappling Hook which has a longer reach and can grapple onto hooks and poles.
The next tool you get is the Rock Buster, which will smash anything made out of rock that's previously blocked a portion to explore.
Time Stop is a helpful tool as it stops not just enemies for a momentary period of time but also the conveyor belt-like sand, afterwards you'll get a tool called Push Blocks which does exactly as its namesake suggests.
You'd think that after twenty-plus years since his inception that Frogger would learn how to do that eventually, but apparently not. I mean it's not like frogs are amphibian creatures that can naturally swim in the water--oh wait...
With the Scuba tool Frogger finally gets his chance to explore the depths of the water (still not swimming but he's moving around underwater at least), and as a plus should you have it equipped when falling in the water you won't lose a heart and restart from the last checkpoint but instead will be in the river's equivalent of the basement area if you fall down and miss your mark.
Finally there's the Shield tool which will help you block and/or deflect projectiles of any kind provided that you hold the assigned button down.
|Interesting take on the Smurf Village there|
"MUST PROTECT THE CLAW THAT KEEPS
THE LGM HOSTAGE INSIDE
|Venturing towards the pyramid|
Uh, oh! Don't tell the warden Gad Hassan
there are bugs inside--he hates bugs!
|Don't get pushed off|
|Playing the waiting game|
Pentarō? What are you doing here? Oh, sorry,
wrong Konami penguin character
Maybe it's me, but I think the art team may be trying to tell us something with these shots =3Sherry Sasuga, Patrick Burke, and John Polidora handled the enemy designs and cutscenes, and they did a good job considering this was among their earliest (if not their first) work; not that you'd get the impression if you were to look at the character's profiles anytime Frogger or an NPC spoke as they use the same profile even if the matter of discussion were serious; the only exceptions are Dusty and Eric von Wiesel who have got one other profile shot during the final segment of the game because:
obvious villains are obvious. But whenever the cutscenes are utilized in the prologue and ending of the journey the scenario is colorfully detailed and the use of perspective is well-chosen.
Image from GameFAQsThere was also the ImaginEngine-developed Frogger: Hop, Skip & Jumpin' Fun on the PlayStation 2 on September 2007 as a part of the educational Konami Kids Playground lineup of games, and to the extent of my knowledge was the last game to feature Frogger wearing his post-2001 trademark outfit. There have been more games in the series since, but it's gone in a different direction than what gamers were treated to during the decade's first half (the latest game as of writing this review was the 2017 casino game Frogger: Get Hoppin).
|Avoid contact with the cuddly ninja squirrels|
|That crabs' pinchers look like faces|
The reason I chose to try this game first was because I was genuinely curious how this action-adventure game mixed with Frogger's trademark controls would work as it seems like an odd mix at first, but after playing it for myself I found that the two elements meshed well. I think what made the gameplay work was the varied tools courtesy of OPART which helped you get to new segments that you couldn't before being upgraded, and I do like that you can assign them to any face button of your choice. There is a lighthearted charm in the proceedings, but I'd be remiss if I didn't wonder on a few occasions if it was being self-aware and having fun with that knowledge like WayForward does with Shantae and its sequels (albeit not anywhere near the extent of that cult favorite series).
Of all the games to search for a strategy guide... If this game is any indication, such a thing is unnecessaryEarly on when you first arrive at Kabohti and talk to the NPC walking back and forth by the bookcases inside the library she mentions the preceding Game Boy Advance game of the series Frogger's Adventures 2: The Lost Wand, which is one instance where I thought this game was being self-aware (despite standing right in front of her, Frogger makes no comment regarding what was just said here). There's also the framed 1981 Frogger sprite inside Dusty's workshop whenever you visit him which I thought was a nice, subtle touch.
At one point there's an earthquake taking place in Kabohti, and when talking with one of the patrons in Rudy's pub he says that it's nothing compared to the big one from three decades prior. I wondered if this was an in-joke on how long Konami's been around; yeah, they were founded in 1969, but it wasn't until 1973 (thirty years before the existence of this game) that they changed their name to what we recognize them by today.
I don't know if in a different instance he was retorting to the other patron who talked about digging for relics or if it was an in-joke on Frogger's age... Although all things considered if this game were made in recent years that remark towards him would make a bit more sense; I mean, is twenty-two years enough to warrant being called a relic?
In the latter portions of the first part of the river area Frogger will have to progress through a path of logs on the water where every odd log flows in one side as every even log flows in the opposite direction, for you must time your hops properly. I thought it was a nice callback to the 1981 arcade classic, minus the alligators and turtle platforms.
Finally during the course of the game you'll occasionally fill Dr. Finnius' home with furniture that you either buy from Mohan, get from an NPC, or locate inside a treasure chest (where sometimes there's a frog icon to augment your health capacity) in the places you could access thanks to the new tools you got, and the last item you get is a widescreen Frogger TV that has its eyes opened or closed depending on if it's powered on or not (which is kind of creepy) where on the floor beside it is a Nintendo GameCube with a Game Boy Advance connected to one of its controller slots.
|Which teleporter to take?|
Once you clear the last puzzle room you'll be taken to a room where the Black Lotus Society leader challenges you to four or five rounds in a similar vein to Three Cups and One Ball, only there are five cups in this instance which makes it a bit complicated for choosing wrongly will electrocute Frogger which will cost him one HP. First the pacing of the cups will be slow and moderate, which is simple enough, but during the last round they move in such a blur-like speed that it's hard to pinpoint the correct cup unless you either choose correctly by accident or use the pause-unpause trick with the Select button (a trick usually reserved for shoot'em ups). I know squirrels are known for their agility, but this is impossibly fast even for them.
In the case of Argonaut Software's Croc: Legend of the Gobbos the boxes move at a moderately reasonable pace in the couple instances you partake in itThere's a reason the cups are limited to three in these kinds of games, it makes it easier to pay attention to the correct one anytime it's being moved as you lock eyes on it as opposed to five which is a bit scattershot by comparison.
|Gathering Curio bags|
The most surreal and best-looking boss
fight in the entire game
So why would Dusty betray Frogger? Maybe he did it because he was blackmailed, maybe a relative of his was held ransom, maybe he was coerced to stab him in the back because he had no choice. Maybe he felt remorseful when he did that...
...orrrrr he's a one-dimensional mercenary devoid of conscience or guilt! -_- Really, of all the clichéd motivations you could've went with, you had to play that card, KCE Hawaii? As for his employer Eric von Wiesel, he is evil for the sake of being evil, which is not a compelling motivation and/or reason to be a villain. And with that, the nitpick section is complete.
|Which way, which way...|
You can be secure in the knowledge that
this game is quite decent
My Personal Score: 6.5/10
d(^-^)bTO EACH THEIR OWNd(^-^)b
P.S. Next game I'll review will be a simpler one to talk about, hopefully...
P.S. 2 At one point Frogger remarks to Leona that he and OPART are "like buddies" which I found endearing because in a way they kind of are.
P.S. 3 Recently I saw Jon Turteltaub of National Treasure fame's The Meg in an IMAX theatre, and I thought it was a fun ride. Silly at points, sure, but it didn't make some of its scenes any less suspenseful, and Jason Statham was a great lead. Between John Krasinki in A Quiet Place (really good movie, by the way, genuinely intense) four months ago and Rainn Wilson in The Meg, it's great to see some of my favorite actors from The Office on the big screen this year. =)
Happy 15h Anniversary, Frogger's Journey!!! =)
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think (neither spam nor NSFW language will be allowed on my blog); hope you have a great day, take care! =)
Because I'm generous (and because you don't see these kinds of shots in Game Boy Advance titles often), I'm going to upload this image, one, more, time!