Superfrog review

superfrog

superfrog

Every 16-bit platform of yesteryear had their own unique best selling point. Quite often being a platformer game for that matter. Two main ones – SNES and Genesis had Mario and Sonic games respectively. Both very different to each other yet both awesome in their own ways. So, when others back in the early 90’s had tons of fun breaking their pads playing those, don’t think that I didn’t… Actually I didn’t as I had an Amiga 500 and neither SNES nor Genesis back then. That said I was not a sad bastard looking enviously at other people’s machines hoping to be invited for a game or two. Hell, no! I had my own ace down my own sleeve and it was no worst to the earlier two… In fact in some ways it could be considered a superior game!

In the heavenly year of our Lord, 1993, on Amiga and a mere year later on PC, widely known back then Developer forward slash Publisher – Team17 – of (currently Worms titles but then…) Project-X, Apidya I & II, Alien Breed I & II, Body Blows & Body Blows Galactic fame, amongst other great games, released a true gem – an answer to Sonic & Mario that Amiga owners needed and thrived for (and PC owners did not give a damn about as they had Wolfenstein 3D). That year a legend was born…

Project F? Nah…

Superfrog - a frog that every toads wants to be and also coincidentally an Amiga title screen...

The game leaves you in charge of – surprise, surprise – Superfrog – a once prince turned into a green hero on a mission to save his loved princess from alzheimer & dementia driven hands of each superhero’s of the era arch villain – the Mad Witch. Well, can’t tell you what was her exact name but she was a witch and was bad judging from an awesome intro that the Amiga version greets the player with.

Well, putting the story aside as it’s obvious it was not the story that gave Sonic & Mario their deserved fame – Sperfrog could be considered to be quite generic example of the platformer. Could be, but it wasn’t… Both PC and Amiga versions look and play virtually the same with an earlier mentioned difference of Amiga outing having an incredible cartoon-style intro drawn by once famous Eric Shwartz.

Is it a bird!? Is it a plane!? Nah… It ain’t!

And this is were the fun's at... Well, this and some more...

The main game is divided between five levelsForest, Castle, Circus, Pyramids & Ice – each built out of four stages and then there’s also a secret Space stage and a Moon level. I’ve mentioned Mario & Sonic games before as I’d like to use them as examples or even standards here, that I would then compare Superfrog to. It’s not going to be an easy task and I would not wanted this piece of writing to end up as a review of those two games, so I will mix and match some colorful screenshots here so it appears as if I’m still reviewing widely unknown Superfrog… Nah! I’m just fu… I mean playing with you all, it’s still gonna be a Superfrog review…

Because what made Mario & Sonic great is what makes Superfrog an underrated contender that should’ve been a champion amongst all three. Both console titles had beautiful graphics, excellent and well thought through level design, loads of collectibles and tons of fun to add to it all. How does our toad-face friend stack against them? I’d say he’s got some serious ground to defend and I don’t see him losing to any of the games in any of the fields mentioned…

You gotta face the facts! The game is AWESOME-tastic(tm)!

There are only three Rules of Survival(tm) in Superfrog... Or one three-pieced rule... If it moves or is sharp or you have no clue what it is - it will most likely kill you!

Superfrog’s graphics literally squeeze out everything that’s possible out of vanilla Amiga computers whilst keeping a solid framerate of 50 screens per second in a resolution of 320×256 on Amiga and 320×240 pixels on PC. Genesis by standard displays its games at 320×224 and SNES does at 256×224 pixels resolution. So, Amiga and PC do offer slightly higher resolution than Genesis and noticeably higher than SNES. But wait! That’s not all…

Arguably SNES displayed the most – 256 colors on the screen at once in its games and Genesis64, whilst Amiga in most cases only 32. Superfrog and mastermind geniuses of evil – Team17 – behind it however, managed to pull as much as they could out of hardware and the game runs at 64 colors, as well as Genesis titles do. Those colors are so smartly picked, mixed and rotated though that it looks as if there were many more… So, in theory whilst being similar to Genesis it does look bit less colorful than some of SNES games do. But I shouldn’t judge the book by it’s cover… And I shall not judge the games purely by their visuals either! …Today.

Amiga offered the highest resolution out of all platforms… Well, so what!? It still lost in the long run…

It's so cold that I froze my frog off... WOW! That comment is just SO lame...

Both console classics are well known for their ingenious level designs… Mario’s are smartly laid out and often require skills of the Dark Side’s degree and loads of patience and repetition to complete. And Sonic’s are built with speed of gameplay in mind. Superfrog is more on the earlier one’s side. The stages are vast and filled with many monsters (well, I wouldn’t wanna call those cute creatures monsters but they kill you, so I can’t settle just for cute either), traps, collectibles and switches and also often require for a player to reach within the earlier mentioned Dark Side of the Force to stand a chance at beating each of the latter levels… You will find plenty of hidden areas as well, especially in Castle and Pyramid levels and discovering all will not be an easy task at all – so Superfrog holds a lot of re-playability to it.

In gameplay area Superfrog does not lack either – there’s something new introduced with each stage so it continues being involving and whilst it’s easy to pick up and play it’s hard to master and VERY hard to beat! So, finding all of the secret areas and collecting all the treasures (gold, crowns, coins, fruit, etc. and my most favourite drinks of all time – Lucozade Orange – Hell yeah!) will surely take a lot of both – time & effort. There are no warps to latter levels as in Mario games, so you have to complete the game stage after stage but there is a password system and those can be won using collected coins in an arcade like mini games between levels… There’s also power ups that offer unique abilities to our hero – like flying or throwing green goo-ish looking creatures of a yo-yo-like characteristic at the enemies… Sounds odd? Well, play the damn game! You’ll love it anyway and also you’ll know what I’m talking about here!

The technique is to jump over the sharp bit… Or kneel down below it. Or Die. It’s really a game of choice!

It's not gambling if you KNOW that you ain't gonna win!

It’s real hard to summarize it all (and more that I did not mention not to spoil the game), to depict Superfrog as being a truly AWESOME game. I’m afraid that you’re just gonna have to take my word for it. And judging just by it, screenshots and maybe a feel for adventure you will give Superfrog a try… Because when you do, you won’t regret it! It’s a unique and challenging game (with one of the first ad-in-game placements – Lucozade Orange yo!) that could’ve been Amiga’s answer to Mario and Sonic if only the platform and game were half as popular as the two main 16bit consoles were… Sadly Superfrog whilst being moderately successful never reached the attention it deserved and was a hugely underrated production. If things were different I may have been writing here about Superfrog III – Revenge of the Toad or Superfrog VII – Frogs in Space but we won’t know that as the game never really got a chance to stretch its wings…

Sonic-speed transport system as presented by ACME. Sounds

This is the end... My froggy-friend, the end... The screenshot does not show the end though but to know it you would have to play it, you know...