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Construct a basic platform game, sell sponsorship rights to an energy drink manufacturer, and think of an animal that hasnt been anthropomorphised in any major video game manner before. Well, apart from in Frogger, but thats different. Enter Team 17s surprisingly entertaining sell-out platform game, Superfrog!
What fellow Amiga character Zool did for Chupa Chups and James Pond did for Penguin, and what Smith & Jones, alas, did for anyone willing to give them money, Superfrog does for Lucozade. Not only does the players health counter increase by collecting bottles of the disgusting amber stuff, but its revealed in the nice animated introduction that Superfrog acquired his powers of super-speed, might and limited flight from drinking that very same fizzy nectar. Leaving issues of artistic credibility aside, Superfrog was one of the finest platform games to grace the Amiga system, a lovingly detailed, intricate and whimsical romp through six worlds and multiple levels in pursuit of Superfrogs human girlfriend and the witch who turned him into an amphibian in the first place.
Superfrog leapt onto the Amiga 600 and 1200 in 1993, two years after Sonic set the standard for platform games. Team 17s designers owe a lot to Segas blue hedgehog, especially evident in Superfrogs impressive speed, but its also clear that theyve done a lot of research to come up with something special, a perfected platform game made by dedicated fans of the genre. Each stage features hidden areas, some more obscure than others, providing a whole dimension of replay value. Not that the game itself is a breeze, as it becomes increasingly difficult in relatively even steps as each level progresses.
Gameplay is the standard platform fare: the player controls Superfrog with the Amigas joystick, which can be moved left or right to move the character, with up to jump and down to duck. This game makes full use of the Amigas analogue response as opposed to the digital joypads of competing game consoles, as pushing the joystick further in each direction achieves a greater effect, whether it be increased speed or buoyancy respectively. Enemies can mostly be dealt with by bouncing on their heads, although this can be tricky, but Superfrog can collect a little green ball thing to use for less risky missile attacks. Other collectables include the afore-mentioned Lucozade bottles for more health energy, wings that allow a momentary period of flight (often essential for progress) and extra lives. In order for each level to be cleared, the player must not only find the exit, usually at the far right of the stage, but must also collect the required number of coins. Again, similar in premise to the equally speedy Zool.
The game excels in sheer playability as much as it impresses with its cartoon graphics. The opening animation and title screen / box art was created by popular Amiga animator Eric Schwartz, who provided comic strips and animations for top selling Amiga magazines of the early 90s such as Amiga Format and CU Amiga. The in-game graphics cant be expected to live up to this standard, but the main character and enemy sprites are all animated smoothly and delicately, to the extent that it almost feels like controlling a cartoon. The colours are bright and garish, and you might get pretty sick of green by the end of the woodland stage, but there are no flaws to pick apart here, especially for a 16-bit release. That said, Superfrogs inane, relentless smile does start to irritate me a bit after I get impaled on spikes for the fifth time in a row. The games music isnt up to the standards of the Sonic series, but its bouncy melodies suit the graphics perfectly, and sound effects are always appropriate.
Superfrog fits on a single floppy disk, meaning theres no annoying disk-swapping. The game cant be saved to the hard drive, meaning that save games arent possible. Instead, passwords can be obtained from the fruit machine bonus levels at the end of each stage, although these arent always forthcoming. Progress is extremely difficult, which will be a positive thing if you enjoy games that require patience and skill, but will only be a source of frustration if youre looking for something to pick up and speed through. Ive never managed to complete the game. The game proved fairly successful, despite being overshadowed by the Teams later releases such as the smash hit Worms, and was re-released for both the Amiga CD-32 and PCs of the time.
This is as good as independent platform games get, despite being very taxing. The main character looks good, but it was clear he was never going to be the Amigas answer to Sonic or Mario, however much of a cool wise guy the box art mistakenly tried to make him. Does Superfrog ever track down his girlfriend? Does the witch reverse the spell and turn him back into a human? Would his girlfriend really prefer a weedy, average human being over a supercharged man-size frog? I never found out.
Did the less-than-subtle product placement cause a brief surge in popularity for Lucozade energy drinks in the 7-14 consumer age group? No.
SUPERFROG --------- This was released way back in the early 90's, originally released on the Amiga, it was later converted to the P.C. Created by Team 17, the guys and girls behind the Worms series, although this has absolutely nothing in common with those games, apart from brilliant design. The game is your typical side-scrolling platformer, think Sonic and Mario and you will know what to expect! Now the P.C isnt normally a good place to play these sorts of games, they usually lack some of the shine that consoles offer, but this is one of those rare breed, a console style game that works better on P.C than it would have done on the consoles. One final warning though, if you have a modern computer with Windows XP, you may have to download a program called Dosbox, as this game was released before most people had Windows it runs in DOS, which is a system most dont use knowadays, but the game is still runable with DOSbox, and this is an invaluble tool for any XP owner. -------- GAMEPLAY -------- As i stated earlier, this is reminicient of the old style console platform games, such as Sonic and Mario, the basic aim of the game is to take your frog through lots of levels collecting coins! This isnt the most original game around, but it doesnt loose anything because of this, in fact it gains a great deal, because the designers had obviously played a lot of these types of game, they worked out all of the best ideas and left the bad ideas to rot on the cutting room floor! You must collect a certain number of coins in a level to open the end door, this takes you to the next level, now this would be very easy if there were no obsticals and enemies to get in your way, so you must also either run away from or kill a variety of nice woodland animals, or evil ghosties!! Some of these cant be killed, so you must try to avoid them, the others can be killed by either jumping on their heads, or
by throwing this wierd ball type thing that you can collect. Other than the ball object, there are the usual objects to collect such as wings to make your frog hover, energy, represented as a bottle of Lucazade! and lots of different things that give you points. You can also collect special coins that can be used in the bonus game at the end of each level! This bonus level, is basically a fruit machine, where you can gain extra lives,points or the password for the next level, yep thats right there are no save points in this game, its all down to luck wether you get the passwords to the game, this can be very frustrating if you get really far into the game then die! But there are always cheat websites around!!! The thing that really makes this game stick out from the rest is the level design, its an absolute pleasure to play this game, there are so many secret areas that you could play one level for ages and still not find all of them, but it is also fairly easy to find out where you are ment to be going, so youll never feel lost! The Levels are split intop 6 worlds, each world with 4 stages so there are enough of these well designed levels to keep even us hardcore game players happy. The levels follow the usual platform game rule, ie there is a haunted house, a forest, an icy world, a carnival land, an Egyptian level and space, so nothing really original in level themes but as they are designed so well you hardly notice. --------- GRAPHICS -------- For such an old game, the graphics have dated quite well, whilst not mindblowing in any way, they serve their purpose perfectly, they are colourful enough to keep young gamers happy and detailed enough for older gamers. --------- DIFFICULTY --------- This can be a very hard game, some of the levels will have you biting your lip trying not to shout obscene swear words at the screen, but you will always want to come back for "jus
t one more go!" It starts quite easy with the first few levels helping you get used to the controls and the feel of the game. Then before you know it, the levels have got much more difficult with more hazards such as spikes and enemies, and dead ends. But this is the way a game should be made, i hate playing games that are too easy!! ------- OVERALL ------- Well this is a classic old school platform game that every fan of the genre should at least try, i have it permenently stuck on my hard drive, and play on it quite often. Now it may be quite hard to find in the stores, but you could probably find it in an online store or by getting it from an Abandoneware site. I personally recomend this to everyone, if you dont like it you can blame me!! Thanx for reading. Kyle.