Superfrog may not be the most well known game from Team 17, overshadowed perhaps by the Worms series, but for those who played, it was a solid and challenging platformer. Our green caped hero is back and this time in HD.
Superfrog HD is pretty similar to its original 1993 release, which was the Amiga’s answer to Sonic and Mario. The basic premise of the game is that a prince has his princess abducted by the witch before she turns him into a simple basic frog. Yet a stroke of fortune gives the hero superpowers that he can use to rescue his princess. Mario meets Brothers Grimm!
Whilst the game retains the general essence of the original, the twenty four levels stretched across the six themed worlds are all original. There is the chance however to access HD remakes of the original levels from Superfrog, by winning at the slot machine bonus games at the end of each level you complete. The game is available on both PS Vita and PS3 as a cross-buy title and looks impressive on both the bog screen and the Vita’s OLED screen. The HD remastering has worked a treat here and is a marked improvement over the original game’s visuals.
Superfrog HD is a simple platformer, where the task is to get to the end of each level within the time limit. Which is pretty forgiving, as you get ten minute to make it. However, the challenge comes with the scoring system. The layout of levels isn’t based on a simple left to right as seen in the likes of the Sonic and Mario games, these are a lot more slower paced and based more around exploration than anything.
Aside from simply reaching the exit, there are coins to be collected, secret areas to be found among a whole load of enemies to be killed, or avoided. All these actions rack up points and you are given a star rating based on how you perform in each level. So just reaching the exit without collecting coins will see you get a single star, but finding all the secret areas, collecting all the coins, etc will net you the maximum three stars.
This is where the ten minute limit per level all of a sudden seems a lot shorter than it might originally come across. You may know where the exit is, but those secret areas will take you well of the beaten path and some clever camera work makes sure you see glimpses of coins in places you don’t immediately know how to reach. Essentially acting as a dangled carrot as you go off in search of the goodies, to rack up the better score and net those three stars.
As is common with these sorts of games, each world also has a boss level to beat, which again shares a lot with the Mario and Sonic games. Hit the boss a number of times and finish them off.
There is a lot of challenge to be had and it is a mixture of frustration and fun as you try to maximise your score on each level, but the integrated leaderboards help with pushing you on. Aside from the main game and the unlockable original levels there are the Frog Trials, which randomly generates levels and gives you a starting clock of just fifteen seconds. The idea is to get the highest score possible whilst keeping the clock going by collecting the clock icons dotted throughout the level. It is a great test of your reactions as you try to better yourself with each and every play.
There is also a level editor out there for the more talented and creative types, which whilst not being a patch on the likes of Little Big Planet or Trials Evolution, does have a good selection of tools for making some fantastic levels. The downside? These are not able to be shared online, which means either you can play them yourself, or hope that someone wants to try them in person. It is a shame as it would be interesting to play the communities offerings.
It is the only real downside of a game that offers great value and plenty of content. It is easy to see why Sonic and Mario went on to dominate the video game world, but Superfrog was a cracking title in its own right and thanks to this HD re-imagining, a whole new generation of people will be able to enjoy this under-appreciated gem.