IGN Review of My Frogger: Toy Trials
In nearly 25 years, Konami's classic arcade game Frogger has been revived time and time again across a multitude of game system platforms. The last time we saw Frogger on the Nintendo DS was in last year's Frogger: Helmet Havoc, where Konami constructed a fantasy adventure for the company's two decade old, anthropomorphic traffic-dodging, aquaphobic amphibian. Konami's latest Frogger adventure kicks off the character's 25th anniversary in a weird but interesting way: in My Frogger Toy Trials, Frogger is now a mere child's toy, much like a living, breathing Tamagotchi character. Though the dressing has changed, the 90 degree platform hopping mechanics have not, and with that said, this game is a tighter, faster paced rendition of the Frogger gameplay. It's a significant improvement over last year's Helmet Havoc, even if it doesn't do anything all that new with the franchise's core gameplay.
Just like in nearly all of the past Frogger games, in My Frogger: Toy Trials players control the little toad in a top-down perspective, maneuvering him in strict up, down, left, right movements to get him through specific layouts of "traffic" and moving platforms. Frogger can bounce in one-tile increments or hop across two tile lengths by using the jump button, he can bounce up slight upward steps as well as leap in place to grab item up high. He can whip out his tongue to grab faraway items or latch onto a hook and swing like a vine. He can shove around crates and boxes to get through particular challenges, and butt-stomp switches to cause "things" to happen in an environment. Using all of these elements in all sorts of different forms, level designers construct absolutely devious challenges that require equally quick thumbs and minds to get to the end.
So far, though, everything that's been listed above has pretty much been done in past Frogger remakes on consoles and handhelds. My Frogger Toy Trials does pretty much stick to what worked in the past instead of straying from the formula in favor of new mechanics. There is, however, one addition that does change things up significantly: the use of costumes. Players can acquire suits that gives Frogger a unique ability: a Chicken Suit gives him a pecking skill that can tear down walls in the way, a Ninja Suit lets him stick to specific walls and climb over monkey bars, and a "Super" Suit gives him the strength of two frogs and enables him to push larger blocks out of the way. The"costume" element does add more strategy into the mix, and also increases the replay value since you'll encounter locations in early challenges that can't be accessed without earning a suit later in the adventure. The other addition is a touch-screen mechanic where players will have to tap one part of a seesaw-like mechanism to send Frogger flying to another part of the screen...but this could have been handled with a simple button press so it's not all that clever.
The way Konami has utilized its Frogger character in My Frogger Toy Trials is a bit puzzling at first. When players kick on the game for the first time, Frogger is nowhere to be found. Instead, players are thrust in the role of a kid who has sent away for his very own Tobi Corporation toy pet. What he thinks will be a rockin' dragon ends up as a wimpy little frog, and the game follows this boy/frog pairing on an adventure at the Toy Pet Tournament. It's a very, very odd retelling of the Frogger franchise, but honestly, once it gets going this new story feels much more proper than the fifteen bazillion other ways Konami's approached the brand on the handhelds and consoles. And at the very least the story and its adventure are far more interesting than what happened in last year's Frogger: Helmet Havoc.
Ultimately, the adventure really is secondary to what Frogger's all about, and plays merely as a fancy shell and interface to get players from one challenge to the next. It does extend the game with elaborate and pretty much unnecessary conversations and cutscenes, but the dialogue does give My Frogger Toy Trials a bit of emotion that allows the presentation to extend beyond simply being a bunch of levels all strung together. Besides, it's pretty hilarious watching a mysterious, giant pink bunny in a three piece suit give your character life-changing advice throughout the adventure.
But overall the levels are incredibly challenging and are constructed a lot tighter than last year's Frogger. The game even looks slightly nicer than Frogger: Helmet Havoc, with the development team employing a much more solid and capable 3D engine that allows for more detail and environments. The game designers clearly had a lot of fun constructing characters and environments in this My Frogger universe -- some of the enemies include bouncing coconut drinks, hopping candy cane sneakers, and floating music notes and fluffballs with eyes. And have you ever been attacked by Dance Dance Revolution arrows? Yeah, they're in here too.
On top of the adventure is a series of unlockable mini-games, like a Super Monkey Ball-style "roll your frog with the touch screen" control mechanism, or a "blow into the microphone until you pass out dizzy" race with a sailboat in a stream. Though this package lacks the original Frogger arcade game as an extra, the developers throw in a really impressive assortment of single-cartridge compatible mini-games, including a surprisingly fun "deathmatch" game using the hopping frogs to move and microphone blowing for attacks.
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