Video game publisher Konami is blatantly guilty of consumer deception with their game case for Frogger Ancient Shadow. On the back of the case are the following words: Includes original 1981 arcade game. Nothing more, nothing less. And thats exactly why I bought the game. I gave less than a flake of sh!t about that stupid new version of Frogger, because I figured that it would probably suck like all other old Atari remakes have sucked...and indeed, it does.
But Konami misled myself and many other retro Atari fans by omitting much needed words from their allusion to the inclusion of the old version of Frogger--words like, possible, maybe, if youre lucky, under certain circumstances, or unlock. You see, original Frogger is not as readily available as the back cover of the game leads you to believe. Instead, Konami punishes you by forcing you to play their sh!tty new version, even if you dont want to. After wasting the better part of an afternoon trying to avoid this self-torture by scouring the Internet for a cheat or code to unlock the original Frogger, I lost all hope when coming across the FAQ page of the Konami website (http://www.konami.com/edealinv/servlet/ExecMacro?nurl=control/GameTips.vm&ctl_nbr=3810#7), and yelled out a string of words to make your granny blush when I found the following:
I am playing Frogger: The Ancient Shadow. How do I get the Arcade version of Frogger?
To unlock the original Frogger arcade game, you must beat the first boss in the level Tears of Spirits
Funny how they have no trouble mentioning this on their website, but neglect to put it on the cover of the game, huh? Thats why I think they left it off the game deliberately, for they know no one in their right mind would buy this piece of crap otherwise.
Believe me, I tried to make the best of a bad situation. My next hope was that I could suffer through the new version long enough to unlock the arcade version that I thought I was getting when I purchased it. Ive about given up that hope as well.
The first annoyance was the music. Its something thats supposed to be a hillbilly swamp jingle, I suppose, and it is definitely the most nerve-grating video game score Ive ever witnessed. It sounds a lot like it someone is playing a guitar or banjo that is broken except for three to five strings, and they keep playing those same five strings incessantly and off key. You can turn the music off, but there is no option for doing this within the game; instead you have to completely quit the game, return to the main menu, and restart.
Whats so bad about that? Well, before you can even start playing a new game, you have to sit through this movie sequence that is painful to anyone above the age of five years old. You can't skip this movie or fast forward through it either like you can in ALL OTHER MODERN VIDEO GAMES. Nope, Konami determined to spend every minute trying to drive you insane, forces you to watch this sh!t every time you restart the game. Unil I disabled the music, I just muted it with my TV remote, which proved to be even more helpful than TUMS in preventing vomiting.
It gets worse. The star of the movie sequence, the new version of Frogger, looks a lot like Kermit on acid. And Frogger now (shudder)
talks. And he has a real pipsqueak, irritating voice, too, kind of like that of Jokey from THE SMURFS. He also has a friend, Lily, who talks to him in a feminine version of that Jokey voice, and she is PINK. Thats right, a PINK frog, which makes about as much sense as the rest of this crappy game ensemble.
So you finally get through that and are forced to practice before you can actually start the game. Theres no option to just go straight to playing like in Mortal Kombat
you cannot start the actual game until you get through the practice board, which is just another nauseating obstacle between you and original Frogger. The practice board and subsequent boards have question mark tutorials that you hop on. These are helpful initially, but every time you happen to hop back over them, you must sit through them again. You cant always avoid running into them, and theres certainly no option to disable them. That option would only make sense, and Konami apparently didnt want anything to make sense in this little session of video game masturbation.
The controls for this game are some of the worst Ive ever seen. Though the remake is clearly targeted towards children, Im sure most small kids with not-yet-developed motor skills will have even more trouble with them than I do as an adult. The buttons you use are the top triangle to jump straight up in the air (vertical jump), the bottom X to make a big jump forward, the small buttons to the left of the left joystick to make small jumps forward and sideways, and the buttons on the back of the control to turn Frogger without making him jump. An admittedly cool feature is that you can grab and move things with your long Frogger tongue, which you do via use of one of the side buttons, either the circle or square, I cant remember which (Sorry, I just dont care anymore b/c the game is too frustrating and stupid for me to care). But the joystick is disabled, which means not only are you forced to use the keypad, but that you also cannot make fine motor movements. In most modern video games, you can make such movements and in fact need to be able to do, but you also need to be able to do it in this one, and you cant. Instead, you are restricted to moving in four-corner squares; 90 degrees only, forget acute or obtuse.
The result? Often, you hop from one point to another and find yourself improperly aligned to jump to the next object. An inaccurate calculation will result in a loss of life, either from your falling in the water and drowning or running into an enemy. So to align yourself properly for these jumps, you often have to turn around by pressing the rear button, hop to another point where youre currently sitting, and make sure you are on the right corner of your ninety degree square. You must be careful that you turn with the rear button and take a tiny hop with the left control button; if you press the X, you will take a big jump and die. Or even if you press the little left control button, if you forget to turn Frogger around in the correct direction with the rear control button first, and you are close to an enemy or the water, you will hop forward to your death. Oh, and if you are trying to make a big jump with X, and follow the natural instinct of hitting the forward left control button to propel yourself, you dont continue forward in perhaps bigger jump, like you do in most games. Instead, you convert to a smaller jump and fall to your death.
Game play continuity is tedious, constantly interrupted by your looking at the controls and trying to turn yourself in the right direction, then trying to decide whether a big jump or a little jump is needed. The restriction of the game play to moving Frogger in perfect squares makes it virtually impossible when you get to a spot in which you need to hop between several enemy bugs and moles that are in close quarters. This means you must alternate between using the rear buttons to properly turn yourself, the X and left buttons for the appropriate jumps, and all quickly and with letter-perfect timing to avoid death. Such a control sequence is inferior to even the original Frogger, which involved only two parts of the controller, one button to hop, and the joystick to move from left to right. Even if I ever survive this game-play hell to make it to the original Frogger--and Ive yet hear of anyone who haswho knows whether or not Konami has ruined it with the same stupid control sequence they have designated to their new piece of crap version of Frogger?
As if all of this isnt bad enough, you cannot fully save until you reach the end of a level. You can save temporarily at checkpoints within the level. But if you go through all four of your lives and extra lives before you reach the end of the level, and you will rapidly do so with the cumbrous control sequence, you have to start all over at the beginning of the levelno matter how many checkpoints youve reached. And a future with original Frogger seems farther and farther away.
Admittedly, the new Frogger has a few new features that are cool: the tongue movement, 3-D graphics, and the ability to collect coins, those features just arent enough in the shadow of the games problems to keep it from being a complete pain in the @ss.
My guess is that when makers of bad videogames go to Hell, Satan punishes them by forcing them to spend the rest of eternity playing Frogger Ancient Shadow. I wouldnt wish this game on my worst enemy. Grade: F-minus!
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