Welcome to yet another installment of NESWORLD's, supposed to be, montly game spotligt. Yeah so this time around I've decided to take a look at something new instead of old, something that didn't exist back in
the NES days, but instead something that was released fairly recently for the NES, a so-called homebrew.
The game I'm talking about is Ultimate Frogger Champion which was developed by Kevin Hanley and released by RetroZone in 2009. Frogger was released as an actual cartridge, built of
brand new parts, to be played on a real NES deck, no old NES carts were harmed in the making. Anyway it hasn't been until recently that NES homebrew has been of such quality that it could be
compared to anything released back in the day, not counting Color Dreams stuff of course, okay just kidding.
But the last few years the homebrew scene has grown to the point where playable games are being released instead of incomplete or unplayable game projects and simple demos. Sudoku by Al Bailey was one of the
first homebrew releases of commercial quality, along with Kent Hansen's (Snowbro's) remake of Bombsweeper. Now these great games have been followed by Glider and now Frogger. The future of NES homebrew looks bright
to say the least.
So back to Frogger, which quite oddly wasn't released for the NES back in the day even though several other Arcade games at the time were being ported. I remember reading somewhere at some point that Frogger just
couldn't be made on the NES, yeah I know that's a very accurate reference but I honestly can't remember where I read it.
However none the less Kevin Hanley was able to pull it off and after a bit of waiting and playing the demo, I'm finally holding the complete game in my hands.
The game is nicely packed in a cardboard box just like the old days. To provide the true feeling of a brand new NES game the box has even been shrinkwrapped. Box artwork for this game was once again carried out
by Vince Clemente, probably better known as Uncle Tusk.
One thing that seems a little strange though is why the box and label design isn't kept the same. It may be that this game originally was planned as a cart only released as most other homebrew is, simply because
the making of boxes is extremely expensive. So the label art was already made when the decision to go for a boxed released was made and there was no point in scrapping the labels.
This is purely me guessing though and
maybe it's just because I like the boxart better than the label art that I wish it would've been the boxart design on the label as well. Oh well :-)
The game itself is your regular Frogger game where you must avoid traffic and other obstacles to reach the other side of the screen. Of course that it all fine and dandy, but to make this a little more exciting
the cartridge also includes a "Battlefrogs" mode which is a 2 player game where you have to get the most frogs across first to win.
What you get is a complete game with catchy music and great gameplay. I did however a few times shout a little when I got run over by a car that wasn't even near me, or maybe it was. The in-game tune is very
catchy but I'm kinda missing a small sound when frogger moves. Another thing I'm sort of missing is the possibility to pause the game when playing a level. There's nothing more disturbing than having to complete
a level when you really really really have to take a d... well you know what I mean right?
Frogger is as said all about avoiding obstacles and make it to the other side of the screen to collect points. In Ultimate Frogger Champion there are a few ways to score points, such as picking up the pink lady
who is floating around on either a turtle or a log out in the river part of the screen.
As you complete the levels the game of course gets harder and harder, question is if you have what it takes to become
the Ultimate Frogger Champion? :-)
The cartridge will run on just about any NES console out there, thanks to the ciclone chip which will defeat Nintendo's lockout feature in original NES decks. As if that's not all, the game also seems to run
full speed in PAL mode. When run on a PAL NES deck a small "PAL" also appears on the screen. Now this is something I would've loved to see in some of the later homebrew, Battle Kid comes to mind. Thank you so
much Kevin for thinking of us PAL gamers out here.
The only bad thing I have to say about this game really is that it's hard to move around between the cars, you'll most likely end up jumping into a car by accident. My Frogger knowledge is limited and it may be
like that in the original game, but it kinda bothers me, but well it also makes the game harder which is nice heh.
Bottom line, I'd recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the Nintendo Entertainment System and while I'm no Frogger expert this NES version has impressed me a lot. So with that said I hope you'll support the
future of NES homebrew that is actually being finished. It can be done by picking up a few of the games that are being released over at RetroZone, who at the time are the only ones not killing off old games to make new ones,
I for one is a huge supporter of that idea.
Frogger can be purchased here.
Or if you'd like to check out the demo, it can be downloaded here.