Hasbro Interactive has been revamping and re-releasing old video game names for a few years now. After its last run of uninspired rehashes, which included Galaga and Breakout, it looked like Hasbro had run out of tricks. Proving you can't keep a good frog down, Hasbro brings us a sequel to its 1997 revision of the Frogger franchise. The first 3D Frogger was arguably the high watermark for Hasbro's classic gaming remakes, and Frogger 2 improves upon the existing framework, bringing together a fast-paced puzzler well worth your while.
The storyline in Frogger 2, involving a bitter crocodile named Swampy, some kidnapped baby Froggers, and video game licensing disputes (really), is cute, occasionally funny, and ultimately disposable. But what it lacks in cinematic grandeur, it more than makes up for in gameplay. Borrowing equally from puzzle games and 3D platformers, the game lets you hop around 3D environments, as you collect coins, power-ups, and baby Froggers, all the while hitting switches and dodging the constant barrage of enemies and obstacles. The first 3D Frogger was criticized for its incredible difficulty, and the developers have obviously been taking notes, as the strict level design has been loosened up, and Frogger has been given a few new moves to boot. First is his bug-seeking tongue, which can be used to pick up nearby power-ups without actually hopping to them. Then there are the jump and double-jump maneuvers, which let you hop over enemies, hop up large steps, and hop across gaps. The jump moves give greater freedom to what would otherwise be a confined gamespace, allowing for multiple solutions to certain puzzles and giving a bit more leeway when dealing with tightly timed puzzles.
Fleshing out the gameplay are the game's levels. The key word for describing the level design in Frogger 2 is variety. The levels include, but are not limited to, swamps, Aztec temples, underground ant colonies, space stations and video game factories. By constantly changing the environments and the puzzle types, Frogger 2 keeps things fresh and interesting through the length of the game. Which brings us to the Achilles' heel of Frogger 2: length. While constantly engaging, Frogger 2 is a short game, which a skilled gamer would have no problems finishing in one rental.
Frogger 2 looks good. The large, colorful, well-lit levels are full of background animation, which really brings the environments to life. The enemies are both plentiful and well animated, and there is a near-constant bombardment of effects. The camera issues that plagued the first Frogger are a distant memory, as tight camera work, complemented by smart level design, lets you always keep an eye on all the action. The soundtrack matches with the graphics, keeping things interesting with an electronic soundtrack that ranges from ambient to house to big beat. While a lot of the soundtrack is filler, there are a few stand-out tracks, most notably the menu music, which makes you want to stop the game playing and start the rump shaking.
Frogger 2 is a worthy sequel, because it improves upon what worked in the original, downplays what didn't work, and in the end delivers a game that is better than the original. Unfortunately, while all the other pieces come together flawlessly, the lack of replay keeps the game from achieving greatness. That said, puzzle gamers looking for a quality weekend rental need look no further than Frogger 2.