Frogger

Frogger (フロッガー, Furoggā) is an action game developed by Konami and manufactured by Sega as an arcade video game in 1981.[5] In North America, it was released by Sega/Gremlin. The player directs each frog to its home by crossing a busy road and navigating a hazardous river.

Frogger
Frogger arcade flyer.jpg
North American arcade flyer
Developer(s)Konami
Publisher(s)
Designer(s)Akira Hashimoto
SeriesFrogger
Platform(s)Arcade
Release
Genre(s)Action
Mode(s)Single-player

Frogger was positively received as one of the greatest video games ever made and followed by several clones and sequels. By 2005, 20 million copies of its various home video game incarnations had been sold worldwide with an impact on popular culture, including television and music.

GameplayEdit

 
Arcade version

The player uses a 4-direction joystick to guide a frog to each of the empty homes at the top of the screen. The arcade cabinet can be configured to start the game with three, five, or seven frogs.[6] Losing them all results in game over. Frogger is either single-player or two players alternating.

The frog starts at the bottom of the screen going upward, to cross a horizontal road with speeding cars, trucks, and bulldozers. The player must guide the frog between opposing lanes of traffic to avoid becoming roadkill, which would result in a loss of one life. A median strip separates the road and the deadly river with logs, alligators, and turtles, all moving horizontally. The player must also guide the frog across the river while avoiding being bitten or drowning. A brightly colored female frog is sometimes on a log and may be carried for bonus points. The top of the screen contains five frog homes, which are the safe destinations for each frog. These sometimes contain bonus good insects or deadly alligators.

The game's opening tune is the first verse of a Japanese children's song called "Inu No Omawarisan" ("The Dog Policeman"). Others include the themes to the anime series Hana no Ko Lunlun and Rascal the Raccoon. The American release has the opening song and adds "Yankee Doodle".

Softline in 1982 stated that "Frogger has earned the ominous distinction of being 'the arcade game with the most ways to die'".[7] These include being hit on the road, jumping into the river water or submerging on a diving turtle, animal bites, riding offscreen, jumping into an occupied frog home, jumping into the side of a home or the bush, or running out of time.

When all five frogs are in their homes, the game progresses to the next level with increased difficulty. After five levels, the difficulty decreases before yet again progressively increasing with each level. The player has 30 seconds to guide each frog home.

ScoringEdit

Every forward step scores 10 points, and every home arrival scores 50 points. Each unused 12 second of time gets 10 points. Guiding a lady frog home or eating a fly scores 200 points each, and level completion earns 1,000 points. A single bonus frog is 20,000 points to a maximum high score of 99,990 on an original arcade cabinet; players may exceed this score, but the game only keeps the last 5 digits.[citation needed]

Development and releaseEdit

Frogger was created by Konami designer Akira Hashimoto. He conceived it when he was waiting for the traffic light to turn green and saw a frog trying to cross while avoiding the passing vehicles. He parked and carried the frog to the other side, immediately imagining this as a game.[8]

The game was originally developed by Konami, first published in Japan on January 12, 1981.[3] It entered mass-production in June 1981, becoming a success in Japan over the next few months.[9] On July 22, 1981, Sega gained the exclusive worldwide manufacturing rights.[5]

North AmericaEdit

Sega/Gremlin was skeptical about Frogger's earning potential in North America because no other company licensed the game. Also, the 1978 game Frogs was developed in-house and had failed. The next hit was expected to be Eliminator, released in 1981. Elizabeth Falconer, a market researcher at Sega/Gremlin, was tasked by Gremlin founder Frank Fogleman to check Gremlin's library of video presentations for any property worth licensing. There, she stumbled across Frogger.[9]

Falconer later asked her bosses if the game had been reviewed, and she learned that Gremlin was unwilling to take a chance on the game because of its basic gameplay and cute presentation. She thought the game deserved a chance and requested a licensing window of about 90 days for prototype play-testing. She was told her request would be granted if she could convince Gremlin's management. She opened a meeting with executives from Paramount, co-owned by the same parent company as Sega/Gremlin, by passing out booklets highlighting Frogger's gameplay and sales potential. One of the executives, Jack Cameron Gordon, tossed the booklet back and stated that Frogger had already been rejected as a "women and kids game". She replied by speculating on whether these executives had also been party to the rejection of Pac-Man's pitch, which hushed the room. Seeing their deflation in resistance, she explained Frogger's appeal, including its easily memorizable patterns, aesthetic attractiveness, and catchy soundtrack. She concluded by simply requesting a play-test to gauge player reactions. The room went quiet until one executive relented and told the group to "let her have her goddamn kids game".[citation needed]

Sega/Gremlin agreed to pay Konami $3,500 daily for a 60-day licensing window. The Frogger EPROM chips arrived from Japan, Falconer retrieved them, and Gremlin's engineering department created a prototype arcade cabinet. Gremlin agreed to commit to the game, pending its successful play-test. Its popularity with the mostly male audience of the San Diego bar, Spanky's Saloon, impressed Gremlin's sales team and convinced buyers at the Amusement & Music Operators Association expo in October 1981.[10]

Frogger's release further broadened the appeal of video games.[11] Jack Gordon, the director of video game sales at Sega/Gremlin, noted that women shied away from shoot 'em ups and that games like Frogger "filled the void".[12]

PortsEdit

Frogger was ported to many home systems. Systems such as the Commodore 64 received both ROM cartridge and cassette tape versions.[13]

 
Frogger disk by Sierra On-Line for IBM PC

Sierra On-Line gained the magnetic media rights and sublicensed them to developers who published for systems not normally supported by Sierra; Cornsoft published the official TRS-80/Dragon 32, Timex Sinclair 1000, and Timex Sinclair 2068 ports. Because of that, even the Atari 2600 received multiple releases: a cartridge and a cassette for the Supercharger. Sierra released disk or tape ports for the Commodore 64, Apple II series, the original Macintosh, IBM PC, Atari 2600 Supercharger—and cartridge versions for the TRS-80 Color Computer.

Parker Brothers received the license from Sega for cartridge versions and produced cartridge ports of Frogger for the Atari 2600, Intellivision, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Atari 8-bit family, TI-99/4A, VIC-20, and Commodore 64. Parker Brothers spent $10 million on advertising Frogger.[14] The Atari 2600 port was programmed by Ed English.[15]

Coleco released Mini-Arcade tabletop versions of Frogger, Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Donkey Kong, with combined sales of three million units.[16]

Frogger was converted to systems such as the PC-6001, Game Boy,[17] and the 1983 Gakken Compact Vision TV Boy as one of its 6 launch games.

ReceptionEdit

Frogger had widespread appeal, transcending age and gender barriers.[27] Its immediate success boosted its production, becoming one of the top-grossing arcade games in North America during 1981.[28] US arcade cabinet sales yielded $135 million (equivalent to $384 million in 2020) as the most successful Sega/Gremlin release.[9] In Japan, Frogger became the 12th highest-grossing arcade game of 1981.[29]

Its home conversions had high sales. The 1982 Atari 2600 port earned its publisher Parker Brothers $40 million in orders upon launch,[30] with total sales that year of 4 million cartridges and $80,000,000 (equivalent to $215,000,000 in 2020) in wholesale revenue.[15] It became the company's most successful launch year product, beating its previous best-seller, Merlin (1978).[31] More than 100,000 copies of Sierra's home computer versions were sold in the United States by 1985.[32] The various home versions sold 20 million copies worldwide by 2005, including 5 million in the United States.[33]

Computer and Video Games reviewed the arcade game in 1981, calling it "one of the popular new generation of arcade games which are getting away from space themes".[20] In his 1982 book Video Invaders, Steve Bloom described Frogger as a "climbing game" along with Space Panic (1980) and Nintendo's Donkey Kong (1981). He said it was one of the "most exciting variations" on Pac-Man's maze theme along with Donkey Kong due to how players need to "scale from the bottom of the screen to the top" which make them "more like obstacle courses than mazes" since "you always know where you're going — up".[34] Brett Alan Weiss of AllGame later reviewed the arcade game, calling it one of "the most beloved videogames ever created" and "pure, undiluted gaming at its finest". He said the "graphics are cute and detailed, the sound effects are crisp and clear, and the controls are sharp and responsive".[18]

Arcade Express reviewed the Atari VCS version in 1982, calling it "a highly authentic translation of the coin-op hit" that combines "great graphics with sophisticated play action".[22] Ed Driscoll reviewed the Atari VCS version in The Space Gamer,[26] commenting that, "All in all, if you liked the arcade version, this should save you a lot of quarters. The price is in line with most cartridges. It also proves that Atari isn't the only one making home versions of the major arcade games for the VCS."[26] Danny Goodman of Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games wrote in 1983 that the Atari 2600 version "is one of the most detailed translations I have seen", noting the addition of the wraparound screen.[24] In 2013, Entertainment Weekly named Frogger one of the top ten games for the Atari 2600.[35]

LegacyEdit

Remakes and sequelsEdit

Hasbro Interactive released Frogger, a vastly expanded remake for Windows and the PlayStation in 1997. Unlike the original, it has multiple different levels. It was a commercial success, with nearly one million units of the PC version alone sold in less than four months.[36] In 1998, Hasbro released a series of conversions of the original for the Genesis, Super NES, Game com, Game Boy, and Game Boy Color. Each has different graphics, with the Genesis featuring the original arcade graphics. The Genesis and SNES versions are the final releases for those consoles in North America.[37] They are unrelated to the 1997 remake, though they have its same box art.

In 2005, InfoSpace worked with Konami Digital Entertainment to create the mobile game Frogger for Prizes,[38] in which players across the U.S. competed in multiplayer tournaments to win daily and weekly prizes. In 2006, the mobile versions of Frogger grossed over $10 million in the United States.[39] A Java conversion is available for compatible mobile phones.

A conversion was released in Konami Classics Vol. 1 on the Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 on July 12, 2006. It was developed by Digital Eclipse and published by Konami. It has some new music and two new gameplay modes: versus speed mode and co-op play.

The original 1981 arcade version joined the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 Arcade Archives on December 12, 2019.[40][41]

Sequels on home systems include these:

ClonesEdit

Unofficial clones include Ribbit for the Apple II series (1981), Acornsoft's Hopper (1983) for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, A&F Software's Frogger (1983) for BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum, PSS's (Personal Software Services) Hopper for the ORIC 1 in the UK (1983) and a later release for the ORIC Atmos, Froggy for the ZX Spectrum released by DJL Software (1984), Solo Software's Frogger for the Sharp MZ-700 (1984) in the UK, and a version for the NewBrain called Leap Frog.

In Hong Kong, the arcade clone Lady Frog topped the Bondeal chart for conversion kits in January 1990.[45]

Several clones retain the basic gameplay while changing the style or plot. Pacific Coast Highway (1982), for the Atari 8-bit family, splits the gameplay into two alternating screens: one for the highway, one for the water. Preppie! (1982), for the Atari 8-bit family, changes the frog to a preppie retrieving golf balls at a country club. Frostbite (1983), for the Atari 2600, uses the Frogger river gameplay with an arctic theme. Crossy Road (2014), for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, has a randomly generated series of road and river sections. The game is one endless level, with only one life and a single point given for each forward hop.

In popular cultureEdit

In 1983, Frogger made its animated television debut as a segment on CBS's Saturday Supercade. Frogger, voiced by Bob Sarlatte, works as an investigative reporter.

In the 1998 Seinfeld episode "The Frogger", Jerry and George visit a soon-to-be-closed pizzeria they frequented as teenagers and discover the Frogger machine still in place, with George's decade-old high score still recorded.[46]

Frogger appears in the films Wreck-It Ralph,[47] Pixels,[48] and Ralph Breaks the Internet.[citation needed]

In 2006, a group in Austin, Texas used a modified Roomba dressed as Frogger to play a real-life version of the game.[49]

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has a transposon ("jumping gene") family named Frogger.[50]

In 2008, the City of Melbourne created a spin-off called Grogger in a public service campaign for safe transportation of alcohol drinkers.[51]

Game showEdit

In February 2021, Konami announced that a game show based on Frogger is in production for Peacock, hosted by Damon Wayans Jr. and Kyle Brandt in the style of Wipeout.[52][53][54] The series premiered on September 9, 2021.[55]

CompetitionEdit

On November 26, 1999, Rickey's World Famous Sauce offered $10,000 to the first person who could score 1,000,000 points on Frogger or $1,000 for a new world record prior to January 1, 2000.[56][57] On March 25, 2005, Robert Mruczek offered $1,000 for beating the fictitious world record of 860,630 as set by Seinfeld's George Costanza or $250 for a new world record by the end of that year.[58][59] On December 1, 2006, John Cunningham offered $250 for exceeding the same fictitious world record of 860,630 points by February 28, 2007.[60] These scores were surpassed only after the bounties had all expired.

The first verified score beating the fictitious world record of 860,630 points was set by Pat Laffaye on December 22, 2009, with 896,980 points.[61] This was surpassed by Michael Smith of Springfield, Virginia, with a score of 970,440 points on July 15, 2012.[62] The current Frogger world record holder is Pat Laffaye of Westport, Connecticut, USA. On August 15, 2017, he scored 1,029,990 points, becoming the first and only person ever to break one million points on the original arcade version.[63][64]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit