Review by David Andrew Clayton, 1993
Superfrog is a platform game in the style of Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog.
Name: Team 17 Software, Ltd.
Address: <Old Team17 address>
Telephone: <Old Team17 phone number>
£26.99 (British Pounds) <Reduced now to £9.99>
I'm not sure about American prices ($1.00 Australian = $0.70 US),but they are bound to be much lower, since Australia has OUTRAGEOUS software prices. End of rant.
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
Disk protection: non-AmigaDOS floppies, not copyable by normal AmigaDOS utilities. Not hard disk installable. (When will hard disk installability become standard!?) <Not long after this review was written!>
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
Seagate 130MB IDE hard drive
GVP Series II SCSI hard disk controller, Quantum 200MB hard drive
2MB Chip RAM, 4MB Fast RAM (16-bit), 16MB Fast RAM (32-bit)
ASDG Dual Serial Board
NEC3D multisync monitor
AmigaDOS 3.0 (Kickstart 39.106, Workbench 39.29)
Competition Pro 5000 joystick
I purchased Superfrog after seeing wild praise for the game from many people in comp.sys.amiga.games. I'm not particularly adept at platform games, but I do find them enjoyable. The price of this game did put me off at first; yet, I succumbed to the claims of playability, such as: "Finally, a Sonic the Hedgehog killer for the Amiga!" Sonic is, apparently, a hard act to follow. But on with the review.
The game's premise is that you're a magic Prince, complete with abride-to-be. The wicked witch has turned the prince into nothing more than a little green frog. The frog found a strange bottle, and drank from it, and became Superfrog.
Superfrog is a platform game, along the lines of "The Great Giana Sisters", "Super Mario Bros", "Wonderboy in Monster Land", "Turrican", "Hard and Heavy" and "Robocod". You control the Superfrog with your joystick, and hop around trying to collect pieces of fruit, coins, crowns, gems, and various items, as well as the ubiquitous Lucozade bottles which give the frog his super status. Collection of coins determines when you can leave a specific level, since each level has a toll, so you can't just find the exit and leave. You have to work at collecting the prerequisite number of coins first.
The game itself consists of 6 levels, each split into a number ofdistinct stages. The game gets progressively more difficult as you play, starting out very easy, and ending up being rather difficult and frustrating, as do most platform games. Without this difficulty hike, such games would be too easy and hence boring. Many of the levels have secret areas, tunnels, and holes in the ground. There are also caches of coins hidden behind objects, which can prove tricky to find.
Superfrog has a sidekick, "destructo-spud", a green potato with asingle cyclopean eye. This is your single weapon against the array of baddies you have to get by, and it has to be found lying around on the ground before it can be used. Be warned that destructo-spud doesn't affect all (or even most!) of the denizens of magic land. And if you die, you lose your destructo-spud until you find another one in the maze. You can also jump on some baddies to kill them.
Superfrog can also acquire frog-wings in its travels, which enablethe frog to stay in the air a bit longer after it has jumped. However, the amount of time you can stay up in the air is limited, and you always fall back down to the ground, no matter how many times you press the button to flap the wings. While you are in the air, you cannot fire destructo-spud at your enemies. You can, however, jump on top of many enemies to disable them. Having wings also helps to overcome some of the obstacles placed in your path.
The action is fast-paced and very smooth. The frog is very responsive to the joystick, and you can tell when you've made a mistake, so the gameplay isn't all luck like some badly coded games turn out to be. Each time the frog does something that it shouldn't, it loses some energy. After five such mistakes, the frog will die, using up one of its "lives." You can build up your energy again by acquiring more Lucozade bottles. Some actions are instantly fatal (landing on or touching silver spikes), but most actions only make you lose a unit of energy (touching a monster, or getting zapped by a nasty).
Team 17 seems to be proud of the musical accompaniment, and so theyshould be. There are eight different scores, and those that I have heard are light and entertaining. The general sound effects are well done, and the game would be lessened if you took them away.
An options screen, accessible before starting the game, lets you start out with three, five or seven lives (as opposed to the documentation which states 1, 3 or 5 lives), and play in either "easy" or "normal" mode. Easy mode slows down the gameplay a little and lets you have more time to finish each level. You can save your high scores to an optional (user-provided) high-scores disk. There is an optional "level code" entry line which allows you to go directly to a particular level by entering a code. Such codes are gained in a little side-game fruit (poker) machine.
The fruit machine appears when you finish each stage of the game, unless you decide just to take your bonuses as points. It allows you to gamble your level bonuses earned, try and increase your score, get extra lives, or get the code for the level you have just completed. Some people find the machine tedious, but others think it is amusing. It's the only way to get the level codes though, and is a necessary part of the game.
I like the game immensely. It's cute, fun to play, and the responsiveness to joystick actions is superb.
There are, of course, bugs. (See BUGS, below.)
The game comes with a small, multilingual booklet. Languagesincluded are British English, Francais, Deutsch and Italiano. Americans will just have to puzzle over the weird English section. :-)
LIKES AND DISLIKES
I like the game because it is captivating and fun to play. The gradual increase in difficulty complements the skills you acquire whileplaying the game. Finding the secret areas in each level is rewarding, not tedious like in the PC game "Wolfenstein 3D."
I INTENSELY dislike having to pay $70 (Aus) for a game! I would also greatly appreciate hard disk installability, though I realize this would effectively bypass the floppy disk copy protection scheme. The wait time to load the game from floppy disk, plus the non-multitasking while the game is running, both marginally detract from an otherwise excellent game.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
Superfrog is definitely one of the better platform games. It is as good as Turrican 1, and better than Robocod.
Ah, yes, the bugs. Firstly, the introduction sequence by Eric Schwartz doesn't work unless you turn off the AGA mode of the A4000. This is a minor bug, since you would only ever want to see the introductory storyline animation once or twice.
The game works fine UNTIL it comes to changing disks. When youinsert disk 2 and press the fire button to indicate the disk has changed, the A4000 resets itself. This is plainly mismanaged code. Turning off the 68040 caches stops this bug from presenting itself. You can also circumvent the problem by inserting the second disk *before* it is called for. I can see that some A4000 owners will lose high scores due to this bug.
Sometimes some aspects of the game, especially the "moving spikes,"can get out of synchronization, so that it becomes impossible to get past without losing some energy. I found that moving away from that part of the screen, and then coming back, will usually fix the problem. I don't know if this behaviour is a bug or a feature.
I haven't had cause to contact them.
None that I can see.
An excellent, addictive game, with style and playability that will be hard for other software companies to beat.
All opinions are those of the author.
Copyright 1993 David Andrew Clayton. All rights reserved. All
copyrights and registered trademarks of products mentioned in
this review are acknowledged. No copyright infringement is intended.