The Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from drowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top of the screen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for snakes and alligators! (Parker Brothers, 1983)
Memories: So, there’s this frog, you see, and he advanced from a best-selling Atari 2600 title to the 2600’s bigger, more powerful brother. And the result?
Squish. Sadly, despite the greater graphical finesse of the 5200, this Frogger is dead on arrival. How in the world could anyone mess up a sure thing like Frogger? It’s easy when you’re also having to worry about defeating what most people agree is the Achilles’ heel of the hardware it’s running on. Parker Brothers made a valiant and inventive effort to sidestep the 5200’s notorious non-centering controller by offering an option to use the numeric keypad to control the frog. If you like, the joystick doesn’t have to be used at all. And in theory, this would be a grand idea…if not for the after-market reality that the keypads and buttons on a 5200 controller are just as prone to failure unless properly serviced.
That’s not the fault of Parker Brothers, and I can’t honestly count points off for it when nobody probably expected to be playing 5200 Frogger 20-odd years down the road, but it’s definitely a concern now. As far as the game itself is concerned, the keypad control scheme really reduces Frogger to something more akin to playing the game on an emulator with a PC keyboard. It looked grand – but it just wasn’t as much fun somehow.