Friday, 2 August 2013

REVIEW - Superfrog HD (PS3 & Vita)


The Amiga was a wonderful system, home to some truly great games. However, it was never quite able to nail the platformer genre. It had many games of this style, certainly, but when compared to the console titles like Super Mario World and Sonic The Hedgehog, they lacked a certain spark that made them stand out. The one game that came closest, though, was Superfrog by Team 17. Controlling the titular amphibian through the colourful cartoon world, often at breakneck speeds, was a pleasure. With jaunty music, silly sound effects, charming characters and a fairy tale world to explore, Superfrog is arguably the best platform game the 16-bit Amiga has to offer. Now those kind folks at Team 17 have seen fit to unleash our slimy hero onto modern screens with an HD remake featuring all new levels and a fresh coat of paint. 

The first thing you will notice - aside from the distinct lack of any Lucozade sponsorship (replaced with a generic orange potion) - is that they have stuck with the extremely cartoony graphical style. The brief intro sticks extremely closely to the style of the Amiga version, though to these eyes it looks quite amateurish. Thankfully, the in-game graphics fare much better, with rich and colourful worlds inhabited by cute critters containing bags of charm. Superfrog himself is less 'cute' than before, with Team 17 using giving him a more comic book style appearance (as seen on the original Amiga box art). The soundtrack is a bit of a letdown for me, though. Alister Brimble's original score was an exceptionally catchy affair, with bouncy, somewhat silly, tunes that really suited the game and helped bring a smile to your face. The new soundtrack is perfectly reasonable, but fairly forgettable, and some of the best sound effects are no longer here. 

Gameplay is as straightforward as ever. Superfrog must navigate 6 worlds, each made up of 4 stages, on a quest to save his girlfriend from an evil witch. The environments are your standard platform game fare - consisting of forests, caves and the obligatory ice world - and come littered with enemies such as bees, squirrels, hedgehogs and little blue blobs, all of which can be vanquished with a head stomp, or by launching your blob friend at them. The levels are redesigned, larger versions of those found in the original release. They are more elaborate and have much better design - many of the irritating spikes and pits have been removed or edited to reduce much of the unnecessary frustration that plagued the Amiga offering. As before, there are absolutely loads of secret areas to find - revealed by touching the necessary walls - and it is a rewarding experience finding them, and provide enough incentive to explore every inch of the stages. A brand new dynamic camera pans out during gameplay, giving you a much wider field of vision, and is a brilliant addition. 

In the original Amiga title, Superfrog had to obtain a set number of coins before he could use the level exit, but in this new iteration there is no such restriction. Now, coins merely act as points and go towards your rating for each level. This rating, along with the online leaderboards, mean you will try to explore every inch of each stage, on the hunt for every last coin and fruit collectible, adding replay value. But this comes at the cost of challenge. This HD remake is far easier than the Amiga version - which may annoy many purists.

As well as the standard single player mode, there is an infinite runner style mode called Frog Trials in which you are tasked with racing along a never ending linear stage against the clock. You must collect the clock icons to pause the timer, and grab as many fruit and coins as possible. It's no Bit.Trip Runner, certainly, but it's a nice little addition. There's also a level editor should you wish to edit the existing stages to create your own. You can also play the original Amiga levels too - by unlocking them on the fruit machine bonus stages - complete with the superior original soundtrack, which is a nice touch. unfortunately, there is no option to play with the original Amiga's graphics.. sniff, sob! 

Superfrog HD, much like the original, is a fairly standard platform game that doesn't really offer any new ideas, but it does what it does well and is great fun. This new reboot is actually more enjoyable thanks to its excellent level design, but it is even more unoriginal than it was 20 years ago. At the end of the day, though, it's fantastic to see the character back on modern platforms. For fans of the original it's an essential purchase simply for nostalgia reasons alone, but it is also a great old school platform game that will give you hours of entertainment.

Title : Superfrog HD
Developer : Team 17
System : PS3
Price : £6.49
Also on : Vita (both come as one price)

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