Superfrog review

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...

Another World

Another World (Out of this World)
Another World (Out of this World)

Another World review (Out of This World) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Masterful action-adventure storytelling that set the way for games like Abe’s Odyssey and others.”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview:

Another World (Out of This World in the US) is a CLASSIC video game that is a perfect blend of adventure and action. The game is a platformer and plays similar to the original Prince of Persia, except with guns and the later Abe’s Oddysee.

The story goes something along the lines that you were working at a science lab with a particle accelerator during a really bad thunderstorm and lightning hit when you were conducting an experiment and that made a dimensional shift happen that took you into… Another World! As soon as you get there, you are being surrounded by these crawling little creatures that if you allow them to get near you will paw at you with a little venom tooth and it’s pretty much game over. I won’t ruin any more little surprises. This game simply has to be played.

The game needs no dialogue as the ways the characters react was simply amazingly done. The gameplay is fast and fluid. The game has cut-scenes that are really quick and whose animations are really well done for 1991. They’re not like cut-scenes in today’s games for which you might as well just eat popcorn or something else while watching. Another World plays very fast.

The game is available on 3DO, Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, DOS, GBA, Mac OS, Mega-CD, Mega Drive, Mobile phone (Symbian OS), SNES, Windows, Windows Mobile.

The game is from 1991, made by Eric Chahi, with music by Jean-François Freitas.

Here is the intro to the game:

Fun Factor:

Games where everything kills you are a lot of fun for me. There’s parts in this game where you are running for your life and shooting like a real gun fight. It feels more like combat from a movie like Ronin rather than something like Rambo.

The first time one plays this game, the game will most likely blow you away. The fun of exploring a hostile environment plus being a fugitive makes for a great adrenaline rush, as well as having to THINK. Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Although I’ve played this game many, many times, it’s relatively easy to die. Pretty much everything will kill you in one attack, so you need to be careful at all times. Since the death system is realistic and it will depend on your knowledge of knowing how to react as well as your reflexes, the difficulty is perfect and real. Difficulty gets a score of 10 out of 10, since it’s realistic. I’d say this game is “NES hard”.

Since you can’t change the difficulty, Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 7 out of 10. To make the game easier would take away some of the excitement one gets playing the game. (This isn’t a modern noob-friendly game, so deal with it!)

Value:

You can pick up Another World at gog.com for $9.99. Their version gives you the game DRM-free, its manual, a bunch of hi-res wallpapers from it, its development diary, a technical handbook, as well as the soundtrack for the game. Considering how much of a classic this game is to me, $10 is a good value (the cost of going out to dinner) for a classic game that one will never forget. Value gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve replayed this game about 30 times so far, although I know exactly what’s going to happen in every scene. I enjoy having the factor that I might not respond fast enough and still die. That makes the action more realistic offering a challenge not found in most of today’s games. Replayability gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound is particularly important for this game. It makes up a lot of what make it great and what keep you feeling inmersed in the atmosphere of this game. My favorite sounds are the blasts from the energy gun and the cackle of the lightning and particle accelerator in the intro, as well as hearing enemies die. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Music is absent from most of the game except during the intro and ending. Although we are used to having most games playing music most of the time, in real life we don’t go around hearing a theme song in the background all the time, which makes the game have a suspenseful atmosphere. The intro music is tenseful. The ending theme nice and very soothing. Overall the music in this game gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Graphics:

For its time, the graphics and animations of Another World were simply amazing. I remember when I first played this game it had made me justify having upgraded to the Amiga for my gaming platform from my c64. Considering how well this game has always ran, how fluid everything looks, and how real the characters act, Graphics get and deserve a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game almost never crashes, except maybe my Amiga version (mainly because my machine had overheating problems, my old Amiga 600). I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10 for the gog.com version. I give the Amiga version a score of 8 out of 10 because of the rare crashes.

Controls:

The controls for this game are self-explanatory. The only thing that might get some getting used to, the first time you play, is how responsive the character is to running and shooting. One quickly learns to control the character perfectly. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game has always run flawlessly and fast on all platforms. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the games I’m most fond of from my Amiga gaming days. The story, atmosphere, and cinematics are unforgettable.

Longplay of the game:

The following video shows you somebody playing the game all the way through. It’s not a super long game but it’s still a classic game that holds a special place in my heart. This is the Amiga Longplay playthrough by cubex55 for Another World.

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Trine

Trine
Trine

Trine review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Symphony of the Night + The Lost Vikings + Out of This World = fun!”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Trine is a fantasy action puzzle platformer game that consists of three soul-bound characters that got trapped that way at the beginning of the game through magic making their way through each map in stages. You switch characters depending on which one you want to use, in the style of The Lost Vikings, only that all three characters take up the same place, rather than like in The Lost Vikings each being an independent character that you control once at a time.

The three characters are a mage, a rogue archer, and a warrior.

The mage can move objects around through magic and summon magic cubes/planks, which you can use to use to jump higher or drop on enemies.

The rogue archer is basically the most powerful character in the game. She can fire a ton of arrows that although they don’t do as much damage as the warrior, you can eventually fire multiple numbers of them and you can dispatch enemies safely at a distance. The best ability she has is firing a grappling arrow, sort of like the grappling hook gun that Batman has, which you can use to climb up, slide down, rock back and forth, swing, and all sorts of crazy acrobatics. She can light torches by firing flame arrows at them. For me, she’s basically the main character to use.

The warrior is supposed to be the main fighter, although the rogue archer is superior in my eyes. He mainly mashes things, whether parts of the terrain or boxes or enemies. He can also pick stuff up and move it around and he has a shield which absorbs most damage, so long as you angle it properly. He can also light torches, simply by chopping them with his sword.

There are 3 stats in this game, health, mana/energy, and XP.

Health is pretty self explanatory, with some enemies dropping hearts which can heal you. You can also heal by going to a checkpoint, if your health is lower than the minimum that difficulty setting designates as the minimum.

Mana/energy gets used up any time the mage does anything, or to do special attacks for the other two characters. The rogue archer mainly uses the energy to fire lit arrows when you pick up that power. The warrior uses energy to perform special attacks. You replentish mana/energy by going to the next checkpoint or by picking up blue vials which some enemies drop, which this is the most common drop in the game.

The last stat is XP. You pick this up in green vials that are scattered throughout the map (mainly in hard to reach places) and by killing enemies. When you get enough XP all three characters level up and you get a certain amount of character points which you use to purchase new powers or improve old ones.

The final thing to mention regarding general gameplay is that there are different treasures/loot hidden throughout the maps. Each one can boost your powers by a set amount or add a completely different kind of power to the character. For example, I picked up an item which lets my mage swim under water for unlimited amounts of time.

The game gets told as a fairy tale story, and it’s really well done in that sense.

As of the time of this writing, this game is only available on PC. You can play the demo here from Steam.

This is an indie title by Frozenbyte. It has gained a lot of acclaim/awards from other gaming sites. Overall, it’s a great, although short game.

Fun Factor:

This game is a lot of fun, especially the first time through. There are many different approaches and solutions towards getting through an area or fighting enemies and to me that makes for an intelligent game, which most games are not these days, especially a platformer game. The atmosphere and way the game got made keeps you playing. The first time I played the game I was dead tired and started playing it at 11 PM. I went to bed that day at 5 AM.

For the first playthrough I give the game a Fun Factor score of 9 out of 10. For the repeat plays, I give it a score of 6 out of 10, maybe even 7 if it’s been a while.

Difficulty Versatility:

There are different difficulties but they are mostly the same. The only difference I found in game play is that the amount of health that you get when a character dies and resurrects at the checkpoints is lowered the harder you set it. I got really good at this game real fast so I would recommend playing it right from the start at the max difficulty. Most of the game is pretty easy to me, but some parts are tricky. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 6 out of 10.

Value:

When I got this game it was $5 (when I announced the sale last time). At that cost, the game is an amazing value.

When it’s not on sale, this game usually goes for about $20. At the time of this writing, you can get it for that much through ebgames.com in DVD and also as the downloaded version. You can get it for the same price through Steam.

You can also get it from Impulse here, which is one of our sponsors.

Trine
$19.99

For $20, considering it took me 5-6 hours to beat the game the first time, it’s not so much a great value. At that cost, I’d give Value a score of 4 out of 10. At a cost of $10, I’d give it a 6 out of 10. At $5, I’d give Value a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

This is a pretty short game. I’ve played it twice so far and the game was predictable the entire 2nd playthrough. I have a good memory and since I just played it back to back, I will probably revisit this game in a year or two. I’d give replayability a 4 out of 10, mainly because it’s such a well made game and the action is well done.

Sound:

The voice acting for the game is great. I enjoy when they argue with each other, regarding the path they are taking for solving the main plot. It’s comical. The mage is a shy dork, the rogue archer is a hot sexy lady, and the warrior is a dumb jock.

The sound effects are well done too. The arrows sound real. The smashing of the warrior’s sword or the impact on his shield sound amazing. Sound gets a score of 8 out of 10. I would have given it a higher score, if it had more voice acting.

Music:

The music for the game is beautiful. It goes well with the atmostphere and the fairy tale setting. The music sometimes reminds me of a Tim Burton kind of fairy tale movie. Danny Elfman would be proud! It is written by Ari Pulkkinen. I wish it were available for download. The music from Trine gets a score of 10 out of 10. It’s simply beautiful.

Graphics:

The game looks beautiful. It reminds me sort of the style that the first Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen had, only from the point of view of a side-scrolling platformer instead of the top down and not pixelated at all. They look well drawn and the game is simply beautiful. For what this game is, the Graphics deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game runs rock solid even while alt-tabbing the living hell out of it. Nothing to complain here. It loads up quickly as well each time. Stability/Reliability gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple and fluid. Standard WASD + mouse combo work like a charm for Trine. Once you’ve played the game for a while, you will be able to use each character almost as if it’s second nature to you. It doesn’t take long to get used to the controls. Eventually you will find yourself just drilling everything with the rogue archer and the enemies won’t stand a chance. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs perfectly on most gaming machines, even some obsolete ones. I never saw lag, not even once during any part of this game. The levels load up quickly as well. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This was one of over 300 games I bought during the Steam holiday sale. Although the game is short I enjoyed playing it as much nearly as when I played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the first time. I would recommend it to people who like that game a lot, who are PC gamers.