Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 34 / MARCH 1983 / PAGE 100

Frogger For Atari

Larry Isaacs

A number of arcade games have been converted for home computers. Frogger has now joined these ranks. We Atari 400/800 owners are fortunate to receive another excellent conversion. This game is sold by Sierra On-Line, Inc., under license from Sega, the same folks who made the original arcade version. The Atari version is credited to John Harris. Frogger is available on disk (requires 32K) or cassette.

For those who do not frequent the arcade game rooms, a detailed description of the game follows. But first, there are a couple of options that may be set. Once the game has finished loading, you may choose between two speeds, FAST and SLOW, and whether you want the accompanying music on or off. The OPTION switch toggles the game speed between FAST and SLOW, with FAST being the initial setting. So far, the SLOW speed has been plenty hard enough for me.

The music option is controlled by the SELECT switch. By the way, this music is some of the best I've heard on any game so far. The music option is available only on the disk version. I also appreciate the fact that you are not required to listen to 10 to 20 seconds of music before you can start the game. You start or restart the game by pressing START. Even after the game has begun, you may still change speeds or toggle the music using the appropriate key.

Once the game gets underway, you face the challenge of Frogger. The primary task is to hop frogs, one at a time, across a highway and a river into one of the five "homes" on the far side. On the display, this journey starts at the bottom of the screen and ends at the top. You control the movement of each frog with the joystick. Each frog is able to hop forward, backward, left, and right, but not at any of the 45-degree angles. To make it hop, you push the joystick in the desired direction. To make it hop again, you must return the stick to the neutral position and push it again in the desired direction.

Rest On The River Bank

The first obstacle is the highway. This involves crossing four lanes of traffic. To make this phase less than simple, the direction of traffic alternates with each lane, and the speed of each lane is different. Once you have made it past the highway, you can rest on the river bank before tackling the river. The river contains five "lanes." The first and fourth lanes contain turtles swimming upstream (i.e., to the left as you face the screen). The second, third, and fifth lanes contain logs which are floating down-stream (i.e., to the right).

Naturally, these lanes move at different speeds. You cross the river by hopping on top of the turtles and logs to go from lane to lane. On the far side of the river, there is a wall with five little arches which represent the frogs' homes. You must hop directly from the last lane of logs into the arch to reach home.

The object of the game is to accumulate as many points as possible until you lose five frogs. The frogs may be lost in a number of different ways. The two most common ways: they are struck by a vehicle on the highway, or they fall into the river (swept away by the current, I assume). One feature that makes the river slightly more difficult to cross is that some of the turtles will submerge, taking your frog into the water with them. You also lose the frog if it misses the arch and hits the wall instead.

Finally, there is a time limit within which the frog must reach home. Each frog gets 120 counts which amounts to about 32 seconds. The "clock" appears as an orange bar at the bottom of the screen, and it shortens as the time runs out. When a frog is lost, a skull and crossbones appears briefly at the frog's last position. In addition to the "bleep" when the frog hops, there are appropriate sound effects when a frog is lost.

Points are accumulated in a number of ways. First, you receive 10 points for each forward jump your frog makes and 50 points for each frog that arrives home. Second, when a frog reaches home, you get 5 points for each count remaining on the time clock. In addition, there are a couple of ways to earn bonus points. From time to time an insect will appear in one of the unoccupied homes. If your frog can pounce on this insect, you receive 200 bonus points.

Alligators, Snakes, And Otters

A typical game consists of a sequence of rounds, once you can get past the first. A round is completed by maneuvering a frog into each of the five homes. There is a 1000-point bonus for completing a round, and you get to move on to the next round. Naturally, the level of difficulty increases for each successive round.

First of all, the traffic pattern on the highway changes: the amount of traffic increases, and the pattern requires more maneuvering to get across. The pattern of turtles and logs in the river also changes. Fewer logs appear in the third lane, and some of the logs in the last lane are replaced by alligators. You may hop on the backs of the alligators, but if you come too close to an alligator's mouth, the frog is eaten. Occasionally, an alligator will appear in one of the unoccupied homes for a brief period. You can wait for the alligator to leave or choose a different home.

When you reach the third round, the difficulty is increased further by two additional predators: snakes and otters. The snakes will appear on the logs in the third lane of the river, and on the river bank between the river and the highway. If a snake appears, it will slither back and forth on the log. It is relatively safe to hop onto a log patrolled by a snake, since the snake will not chase the frog.

However, if you let the snake slither into the frog, the frog is eaten. On the river bank, the snake will make only one pass along the bank, but another may appear from either direction a short time later. An important point is that you can hop away from a snake, but you cannot hop over one.

The otters also are dangerously hungry, and can appear anywhere in the river, swimming between logs or between groups of turtles. The otters appear only on the disk version of the game.

Speeding cars, turtles, and logs whiz by in the official Atari version of Frogger.

After playing Frogger for quite a few hours, I would have to rate it as among the best games available for the Atari. It has very good graphics with lots of motion. In spite of all the motion, there is no noticeable jitter. Joystick response is very quick and quite sensitive. At first I found the joystick too sensitive. It was very easy to hop once too often or hop in the wrong direction. However, as your skill increases, this sensitivity becomes more and more valuable.

One of the best features of the game is the rate at which the level of difficulty increases with each round. The increased difficulty noticeably adds to the challenge, but is not so great as to cause undue frustration while trying to reach the higher levels. With the music thrown in for good measure, the game is a sure winner.

The Atari version of Frogger is very close to the real arcade game. There are only a few differences. First, there is twice the number of counts in the time limit to get the frog home. Along with this change, you receive only five bonus points for each count remaining on the clock. The only other significant difference is that the Atari version allows only one player.

Sierra On-Line Inc.
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Coarsegold, CA 93614