Frogger Returns eschews the larger levels and story-driven adventure modes of recent entries in the series in favour of smaller levels that evoke the original 1981 classic that inspired songs and sitcom episodes. The log-hopping, traffic-dodging gameplay you remember remains largely unchanged in this update and though it may provide a nostalgic experience at first, it doesn’t necessarily hold up almost 30 years later.
Frogger Returns has four stages and can be played three ways in Single Player mode. Arcade mode gives you three lives to start and tasks you with guiding Frogger across a Big City, a Subway, the Sewers and through a Swamp to his home pad. You are given one minute to guide Frogger across each stage to fill five goals and must be careful to avoid new obstacles like blocked-off pathways and dogs. Read More…
Time Attack and Score Attack allow you to play through individual levels or do a full run of the game and Free Play removes timers, lives and scores for a relatively stress-free experience. There are also several multiplayer modes to play with a friend that take place on the original Frogger stage like Classic Race and Fly Feast.
The biggest flaw of Frogger Returns lies in its presentation. The game is rendered in a 3D engine that features colourful cel-shaded graphics, however obstacles are often obscured, animation is stiff and it only runs in 480i.
Developer Hijinx Studios also employed an isometric camera angle that conflicts with the up-and-down nature of the gameplay and results in some extremely frustrating missteps. A classic top-down view is used in the multiplayer modes, so the omission of an option to use it in single player modes is puzzling. The audio in Frogger Returns is entirely forgettable and generic, though it is not grating or offensive to listen to.
I have enjoyed recent offerings in the series like My Frogger Toy Trials and Frogger 2 (2008), but those titles added quite a few modern gameplay conventions and took place across sprawling levels. Going back to a diluted version the core Frogger experience that is marred by a bad camera angle is simply not very fun in late 2009 for more than a few minutes at a time. There are a few switches and items in the game, but they only serve to remove any challenge.
I did find one positive in Frogger Returns that relates to Game Accessibility, though many regular players may find it an annoyance. The game is controlled exclusively with the D-Pad of Wii Remote in the vertical position and it can be played entirely with one thumb or finger.
+ Accessible Control Scheme
+ Several Gameplay Modes, Local Multiplayer
- Camera Angle Causes Frustrating Mistakes
- Substandard Graphics and Sound
- Items and Switches Remove Challenge
Game Forward Score: 2/5
Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward
Frogger Returns (WiiWare) Quick Facts:
Developer: Hijinx Studios
Release Date: November 9, 2009
Price: 500 Nintendo Wii Points
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)