Frogger Advance: The Great Quest actually has little to do with the
classic title Frogger. It's a charming platform title that happens to
feature frogs and other swamp denizens as part of the plot. It can be
said that on a closer look, these frogs really don't have much to do
with the frogs found in Frogger either. They're all dressed in clothes
whereas the original Frogger preferred to go au natural. They don't
leap across busy city streets. They do some log-leaping but Frogger
Advance still comes off less acrobatic than the antics in the arcade
classic. The storyline pitches our Frogger protagonist on a whimsical
fairy-tale like quest. A fairy godmother figure (who is a frog too)
comes to the protagonist and tells him a story of how a princess' kiss
will turn a frog into a prince. And afterwards, everyone will live on
happily ever after. Always a good and worthy goal for someone, you set
off as the protagonist to chase this elusive dream.
Frogger's great quest for love will take you through many different
environs. Much like Tom Jones in Fielding's novel, you'll come across a
diverse amount of characters and landscapes when chasing down the
protagonist's object of affection. The story components are played out
in static cutscenes. The cutscenes are of a high quality. They remind
me a lot of the claymation figures that were once in style. The scenes
that play out could almost be made into a children's storybook. It's
that convincing. Unfortunately, they're far and few in between.
Subtitles play out the brief conversations Frogger has with others and
most are willing to point him in the right direction, if not to where
his heart lies, then at least to the closest exit for the next level.
Each stage, unfortunately, is little more than an obstacle between
Frogger and his next destination. The in-game graphics are vibrant,
colorful and exceptionally well-detailed. Every time Frogger jumps,
you'll see different parts of his body react to the momentum so the
resulting animation is very fluid. It's complemented by a fitting but
not exceptionally great score. And for once in a platform game, water
does not imply a certain death. Frogs can naturally swim in water and
Frogger will have a chance to splash around in some all-wet stages.
There's a natural charm that glosses over the whole presentation.
But the one fatal step Konami made is in christening this title with the
Frogger name. What does it really have to do with Frogger, other than
naming the protagonist after the arcade classic? It doesn't. This game
could be all about talking bumble bees or ferrets and unfortunately, this
naming plays up the expectations of everyone for something great,
transcending the rather pedestrian title offered here. It's as if
George Lucas suddenly released the next Star Wars film only to have the
Amidala character singing to become a celebrity in a galaxy far far away
and Anakin practicing to be a great sushi chef. Frogger Advance is
roughly the same. It has nothing to do with the original game. I
hadn't ever seen Frogger talk, a fairy godmother or even the elusive
princess that he's chasing for in the original.
Finally, I use the word pedestrian with a weighty emphasis on the word's
etymological roots: children. Many platform titles have one hit point
or two hearts, or three units of health. Some generous ones feature up
to six. In Frogger, you have a whole line of them across the screen and
this makes the resulting game fairly simple, undoubtedly making it
accessible to children. Frogger progressively fields tougher levels.
But these come a little late in the game and are usually centered on
using one special move that the protagonist has earned recently. Figure
that out and you'll be hopping your way to the next special move.
Its fairy-tale charms and visual splendor truly saves the title from
becoming deficient all around. But as a platform title, aside from the
name and homage it pays (or rather, doesn't pay), it's an average,
almost mediocre title in its own right. Lacking any convincing
challenge, I was more interested in the artwork shown in intermissions
between the stages, rather than the levels themselves. Throw in the
fact that the game has little to do with Frogger and disappointment will
undoubtedly come around, especially when it comes from such a
distinguished pedigree. I made the earlier reference to Tom Jones
finding his true love in Fielding's epic social novel. This 'great'
quest is far less epic and short too. A few sittings and you'll have
hopped into a soulmate-bonding relationship with Frogger's true love.
Now if only it was that simple in real life.