The game’s premise is that you’re a magic Prince, complete with a bride-to-be. The wicked witch has turned the prince into nothing more than a little green frog. The frog found a strange bottle, and drank from it, and became Superfrog. Superfrog is a platform game, along the lines of “The Great Giana Sisters”, “Super Mario Bros”, “Wonderboy in Monster Land”, “Turrican”, “Hard and Heavy” and “Robocod”. You control the Superfrog with your joystick, and hop around trying to collect pieces of fruit, coins, crowns, gems, and various items, as well as the ubiquitous Lucozade bottles which give the frog his super status. Collection of coins determines when you can leave a specific level, since each level has a toll, so you can’t just find the exit and leave. You have to work at collecting the prerequisite number of coins first. The game itself consists of 6 levels, each split into a number of distinct stages. The game gets progressively more difficult as you play, starting out very easy, and ending up being rather difficult and frustrating, as do most platform games. Without this difficulty hike, such games would be too easy and hence boring. Many of the levels have secret areas, tunnels, and holes in the ground. There are also caches of coins hidden behind objects, which can prove tricky to find. Superfrog has a sidekick, “destructo-spud”, a green potato with a single cyclopean eye. This is your single weapon against the array of baddies you have to get by, and it has to be found lying around on the ground before it can be used. Be warned that destructo-spud doesn’t affect all (or even most!) of the denizens of magic land. And if you die, you lose your destructo-spud until you find another one in the maze. You can also jump on some baddies to kill them. Superfrog can also acquire frog-wings in its travels, which enable the frog to stay in the air a bit longer after it has jumped. However, the amount of time you can stay up in the air is limited, and you always fall back down to the ground, no matter how many times you press the button to flap the wings. While you are in the air, you cannot fire destructo-spud at your enemies. You can, however, jump on top of many enemies to disable them. Having wings also helps to overcome some of the obstacles placed in your path.
The action is fast-paced and very smooth. The frog is very responsive to the joystick, and you can tell when you’ve made a mistake, so the gameplay isn’t all luck like some badly coded games turn out to be. Each time the frog does something that it shouldn’t, it loses some energy. After five such mistakes, the frog will die, using up one of its “lives.” You can build up your energy again by acquiring more Lucozade bottles. Some actions are instantly fatal (landing on or touching silver spikes), but most actions only make you lose a unit of energy (touching a monster, or getting zapped by a nasty). Team 17 seems to be proud of the musical accompaniment, and so they should be. There are eight different scores, and those that I have heard are light and entertaining. The general sound effects are well done, and the game would be lessened if you took them away. An options screen, accessible before starting the game, lets you start out with three, five or seven lives (as opposed to the documentation which states 1, 3 or 5 lives), and play in either “easy” or “normal” mode. Easy mode slows down the gameplay a little and lets you have more time to finish each level. You can save your high scores to an optional (user-provided) high-scores disk. There is an optional “level code” entry line which allows you to go directly to a particular level by entering a code. Such codes are gained in a little side-game fruit (poker) machine. The fruit machine appears when you finish each stage of the game, unless you decide just to take your bonuses as points. It allows you to gamble your level bonuses earned, try and increase your score, get extra lives, or get the code for the level you have just completed. Some people find the machine tedious, but others think it is amusing. It’s the only way to get the level codes though, and is a necessary part of the game. I like the game immensely. It’s cute, fun to play, and the responsiveness to joystick actions is superb.