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 top of the screen. On the second screen, you stand at 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 hungry alligators! (Phillips / Parker Brothers, 1983)
Memories: One of the most exasperating things about Frogger for the Odyssey2? Finding a copy that plays well enough for me to review. Many a copy of Parker Brothers’ Frogger has made its way from Europe to cartridge slots in America, only to disappoint whoever hunted it down: unlike many other Videopac titles released in Europe, Frogger won’t play on a North American console. To find a cartridge that would, I had to make a run for the border and then some: the Odyssey2 was also popular in Brazil, where the four Parker Brothers games were released as first-party titles by Phillips. The Brazilian video system is just close enough to allow Frogger to run on a U.S. machine. Prior to that, the only thing I’d ever gotten out of the European Frogger was the startup title screen, and then nothing.
And the coolest thing about Frogger on the Odyssey2? Everything. You may balk at the thought of putting Frogger on a system so limited that the standard playing field has to be split between two full screens, but this is one of the better looking games on this system. As with Parker Brothers’ adaptation of Q*Bert, the attention to arcade detail with Frogger is surprising – and once again, so is the lack of reliance on the fixed character set that so many Odyssey games are stuck with. The animated winking frog on the intro screen surprised the hell out of me, as did hearing the Frogger theme song during that animation. Wow! Who programmed this stuff? Too bad we couldn’t have gotten more games out of them for this machine – it might have changed at least a couple of minds about the Odyssey2. It also makes me more regretful that the announced-but-not-released Tutankham and Spider-Man cartridges never saw the light of day.
Frogger also appears to have some functionality with the Voice of Odyssey, though this may be a bug triggered by some of the game’s unorthodox graphics routines. During the “traffic” screen, the Voice emits a low hum, not unlike what you’d get from typing a screen full of M’s into Type & Tell. When you clear that screen and go to the “river” screen, the voice says “OW” once and then sits silent until the next “traffic” screen. Even if it is a bug, this is an unusually specific bug.
Overall, Frogger on the Odyssey2 is a surprising revelation, and yet the fun factor is no surprise – it’s hard, at least prior to the Playstation era, to make Frogger not fun. This version does the game justice.