It takes more than the simple ability to jump from stage to stage to make a decent platformer. What’s needed is a certain amount of creativity, precision, and more important than all, heart. Recent mega-hits like BattleBlock Theater and Rayman Legends have been two of the biggest games in recent memory to master this recipe. Unfortunately, in the case of Superfrog HD, these ingredients have all but been left out entirely.
As you may have guessed from the game’s title, you play a frog who is…well, super. Although the reason for his being super isn’t really explained, I guess the fact that he wears a little frog-sized cape makes him super. The game starts off with a quick slide-show that explains how your little frog was once a prince, but was turned into his current for by an evil witch. And to make matters worse, that same witch stole your princess. So you’ll need to save the princess, and have her kiss you if you ever want to become a prince again. I’m not going to pretend the game needs a deeper plot, or that its lack of good writing is a real issue. But considering how troubled the rest of the game is… it certainly would have helped.
Jumping and moving. Those are the two things you do a whole lot of in a platformer, and neither works well in Supefrog HD. As a frog, you can jump pretty high, but this can be an issue when attempting to preform precise landings. For example, a lot of the game’s levels have small tunnels with plaforms scattered around them, and the floor is often lined with deadly spikes. This situation calls for very precise platforming…precise platforming that is nearly impossible to execute because your poor character’s head is hitting the ceiling, you lose your momentum, and before you know, you have a Superfrog kabob…now in HD. Superfrog also moves incredibly fast, which if the classic Sonic games are any indication, isn’t a problem. The difference is, the original Sonic games were made with speed in mind, carefully crafted to accommodate for your fast movement. But the levels in Superfrog are put together in a way that you can’t take advantage of your speed. Rather than enjoying it, you end up hating it. Instead of rolling through a level at great speeds, you’re likely to find yourself gently tapping the movement button, hoping to not fall to your death, or simply run into the side of a deadly spike. To intensify the issue, the game’s hit-detection is often pretty disputable. All of these problems could be a product of Superfrog HD being a faithful remake, but if the original had these issues… maybe it shouldn’t have been given a remake.
An issue I know the original didn’t have was its music. I never played the original, but in Superfrog HD, you can unlock the original’s levels, that include the classic chip-tunes. Unfortunately, rather than keeping the chip-tunes in all of the levels, the same melodies are now “higher quality”, but in the transition to high-quality, they sound as if they were ripped out of Telletubbies. The mind-numbing songs loop over and over as you struggle to get through each level, and it’s maddening. Each session I had with the game resulted in a pretty bad headache.
While this remake may very well satisfy hardcore fans of the original, the problem is that not many (if any) exist. As a big fan of the developer, I’m sorry to say that if you’re not feeling nostalgic of the original, stay away from Superfrog HD. It isn’t good, but worst of all, it’s not fun. Hopefully Team 17′s next game is something I have less trouble getting behind.
Version Reviewed: PC