Frogger was an absolutely classic arcade game which spawned a number of cheap knock offs and a series of endless sequels. The basic idea was to get a frog across the busy road without being run over and squished. If the player managed to do that the trial wasn’t over yet and they still had to make it across a river by jumping on logs and alligator’s backs without being eaten.
It was developed by Konami and then licensed for worldwide distribution by Sega who released it into arcades in 1981. The game was an instant hit, not only was it original it was also challenging, accessible and loads of fun. The simple controls consisted of a four way joystick and players simply had to navigate their way past the fast moving traffic of the five lane freeway and then jump across the five lane river to make it home.
You could score points by safely reaching an empty lily pad but there were also bonus points available for getting across safely in a fast time, for escorting a lady frog home, for catching a fly and for getting a full house by getting all five of your frogs home. Players got three lives and you could lose a life in a wide variety of ways, this frog lived in a seriously hazardous environment. Most obviously you could be flattened by traffic but you could also lose a life for landing in the water, being carried off screen on a log, being eaten by an alligator or otter, bitten by a snake or running out of time. The time limit made the challenge all the more exciting and tense and it would often prompt the player into making daft hasty decisions and getting croaked (apologies couldn’t resist).
The original Frogger came out in delectable laminated wood grain effect stand up cabinets, and they were seriously ugly. It was also released as a delightful cocktail cabinet with the same wood grain effect. Aesthetics aside it was a really popular game and you could engage in a two player match by alternating turns.
Frogger was developed by Konami who went on to develop several great games over the years but Sega were smart enough to pick up the publishing rights and they continued to squeeze as much as they could out of the license with versions of Frogger appearing on every system imaginable and sequels which are still being released today. Apparently they initially planned to release it in the US under the name Highway Crossing Frog but thankfully someone came to their senses and they settled on Frogger.
It was a really colourful game with 2D graphics and a top down view of the action. There was also basic sound to back up the action and it really caught the imagination of gamers because the concept was so different from most games at the time. Frogger was seriously addictive; in fact you can easily play versions of it today online and see for yourself just how compelling the game-play was.