GAME NAME: Superfrog HD
DEVELOPER(S): Team 17, Tick Tock
PUBLISHER(S): Team 17
PLATFORM(S): PS3, PS Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): August 6th 2012 (US), August 1st 2012 (EU)
If I say ‘Team 17’, you may think of their most popular franchise ‘Worms’, which appeared on numerous platforms, from SNES to PS3. But they have made different games before then, including this rare gem ‘Superfrog’, which happens to be one of the best releases ever made for the Commodore Amiga. 20 years later, the speedy amphibian hero leaps onto the PlayStation platforms for his HD remake.
Superfrog HD is a 2D platformer game in which the titular hero aims to complete 6 worlds, so he can chase after and defeat the witch and rescue the princess. The gameplay should be fairly familiar to retro gamers, for it’s another ‘jump ‘n’ run’ game, which consists of explorative levels, filled with collectibles, baddies and secret places to find. Many Amiga games – including ‘Turrican’ and ‘Zool’ for example – share that same formula, although they show some interesting ideas. In comparison however, Superfrog HD is better described as a mashup of Sonic and Mario, in which the caped toad speeds through the terrain and jump on enemy heads. There are power-ups too, as players can collect wings for his hovering ability, and find his companion ‘Spud’, which is useful as a boomerang weapon.
Superfrog HD is better described as a mashup of Sonic and Mario, in which the caped toad speeds through the terrain and jump on enemy heads.
When this HD version has been announced earlier this year, I became curious to see on how much they have improved on its visuals of this classic game. When I played it, I was instantly amazed by the enhancements displayed on screen. It features improved artwork, including the sprites of the player character ‘Superfrog’, as well as widescreen support and graphical effects. The interface has been re-worked too, which resembles the style to that of the iconic ‘Worms’ series. However, some people may easily complain of some sprites in the game being blotched, and the introductory cutscene being presented as a slideshow of still pictures, which was in fact an animated cinematic in the original.
Interestingly, for a small price of sub-$10, Superfrog HD is packed with 24 large levels, and each of them sprouts out replay value. The levels are hardly linear, and they have a ton of collectibles and many secret tunnels to discover. With that amount of exploration and path finding, each stage often takes between 5-10 minutes to complete. Plus with golden lily pads, 80% coin merits, and 3-star ratings to grab for performance, players would be able to return back to them, and see they can discover any surprises there, or even try for their best score.
Mind you though, the 24 levels in question have been re-designed to be much easier and more balanced. But fans do not need to panic, as the original levels can be unlocked via the slot machine mini-game, so everyone can enjoy their retro-styled music and challenges for some extra hours. There’s also a neat level editor thrown in as well, allowing players to create their own levels with powerful tools, and an endless survival mode ‘Frog Trials’, for many attempts to grab that big score. That’s certainly a lot of content in and it should keep you entertained for hours. Plus if you buy the game on the Playstation Store, you’ll get both the PS3 and PS Vita versions with ‘cross-platform’ features, so you can choose to play from your couch or on the move without having to spend your money twice on them.
Superfrog HD isn’t a perfect game however, I know it was a classic way back in 1993, but it actually feels somewhat amateurish compared to the other 2D indie games released recently. First you have this Superfrog speeding through the landscape, and it’s not long before he collides with foes easily. Also that some of those baddies require two hits on the head in order to kill them, whereas the rest can only be killed by throwing out Spud on them. So yeah, it feels near impossible to beat the levels without getting hurt, but you can still do them without dying. You can use orange potions to fully recover health (originally bottles of the British drink ‘Lucozade’, no, I’m being serious), and there’s blue ones that make the toad invulnerable and invisible for a short time. But no matter how much drunk you get from drinking so much lucozades, landing on the spikes – which are scattered throughout levels – means a cheap instant death. If that happens then you’ll lose all your abilities earned so far, as well as a one-star rating at the end. Even worse, hitting the sides of the spike also means a cheap death, which adds to the quirkiness of its level design and the poor collision detection of hitting foes. Thankfully the game’s not difficult, but it often feels annoying and clunky at some places.
no matter how much drunk you get from drinking so much lucozades, landing on the spikes – which are scattered throughout levels – means a cheap instant death.
Superfrog HD is a pleasant nostalgic fix for old-school platformers, and a neat change from Worms. It’s got a lot of stuff to explore, and some features that can enchant many people, including the fans. Team 17 would’ve patched up on the clunky gameplay and the lack of charming aesthetics, otherwise the game’s fun, fast, and filled with goodies, which warrants the value of its sub-$10 price tag. I’m not sure on how this will stack with other popular 2D games released this year, but it certainly deserves to be a cult classic.