Frogger (フロッガー, Furoggā) is a 1981 arcade action game developed by Konami and manufactured by Sega. In North America, it was released by Sega/Gremlin. The object of the game is to direct frogs to their homes one by one by crossing a busy road and navigating a river full of hazards.
Frogger was positively received as one of the greatest video games ever made and followed by several clones and sequels. By 2005, Frogger, in its various home video game incarnations, had sold 20 million copies worldwide. The game found its way into popular culture, including television and music.
The objective of the game is to guide a frog to each of the empty "frog homes" at the top of the screen. The game starts with three, five, or seven frogs, depending on the settings used by the operator. Losing them all ends the game. The only player control is the 4-direction joystick used to navigate the frog; each push in a direction causes the frog to hop once in that direction. Frogger is either single-player or two players alternating.
The frog starts at the bottom of the screen, which contains a horizontal road occupied by cars, trucks, and bulldozers speeding along it. The player must guide the frog between opposing lanes of traffic to avoid becoming roadkill, which results in a loss of a life. After the road, there is a median strip separating the two major parts of the screen. The upper portion of the screen consists of a river with logs, alligators, and turtles, all moving horizontally across the screen. By jumping on swiftly moving logs and the backs of turtles and alligators, the player can guide their frog to safety. The player must avoid snakes, otters, and the open mouths of alligators. A brightly colored female frog is sometimes on a log and may be carried for bonus points. The top of the screen contains five "frog homes", which are the destinations for each frog. These sometimes contain insects (good) or lurking alligators (bad).
The game's opening tune is the first verse of a Japanese children's song called "Inu No Omawarisan" ("The Dog Policeman"). Other Japanese tunes that are played during gameplay include the themes to the anime series Hana no Ko Lunlun and Rascal the Raccoon. The American release kept the opening song intact and added "Yankee Doodle".
Softline in 1982 stated that "Frogger has earned the ominous distinction of being 'the arcade game with the most ways to die'". There are many different ways to lose a life (illustrated by a skull and crossbones symbol where the frog was), including: being hit by or running into a road vehicle, jumping into the river's water, running into snakes, otters or an alligator's jaws in the river, jumping into a home invaded by an alligator, staying on top of a diving turtle until it has completely submerged, riding a log, alligator, or turtle off the side of the screen, jumping into a home already occupied by a frog, jumping into the side of a home or the bush, or running out of time.
When all five frogs are in their homes, the game progresses to the next level with increased difficulty. After five levels, the game gets briefly easier before yet again getting progressively harder after each level. The player has 30 seconds to guide each frog into one of the homes; this timer resets whenever a life is lost or a frog reaches home safely.
Every forward step scores 10 points, and every frog arriving safely home scores 50 points. 10 points are also awarded per each unused 1⁄2 second of time. Guiding a lady frog home or eating a fly scores 200 points each, and when all 5 frogs reach home to end the level the player earns 1,000 points. A single bonus frog is 20,000 points. 99,990 points is the maximum high score that can be achieved on an original arcade cabinet; players may exceed this score, but the game only keeps the last 5 digits.
Development and release
Frogger was created by Konami designer Akira Hashimoto. Hashimoto came up with the idea for Frogger when he was in his car, waiting for the traffic light to turn green and saw a frog trying to cross to the other side of the road, but the frog was having difficulty crossing the road because of the vehicles that were passing through. Hashimoto then stopped his car on the side of the road and carried the frog to reach the other side. After helping the frog, the idea for Frogger immediately came to Hashimoto’s mind.
The game was originally developed by Konami, and it was first published in Japan on January 12, 1981. It entered mass-production in June 1981, becoming a success in Japan over the next few months. On July 22, 1981, Sega gained the excusive rights to manufacture the game worldwide.
Sega/Gremlin was skeptical about Frogger's earning potential in North America. This was because no other company licensed the game. Also, an earlier game called Frogs that was developed in-house that also involved frogs had flopped. It was believed that Eliminator would be their next big hit. Elizabeth Falconer, a market researcher at Sega/Gremlin, was tasked by Frank Fogleman, the founder of Gremlin, to check Gremlin's library of video presentations to see if there was anything worth licensing. It was here that Falconer stumbled across Frogger.
Falconer later asked her bosses if the game had been reviewed, and it was here that she learned that Gremlin was not willing to take a chance on the game because they felt that its basic gameplay and "cute" presentation would not make the game sell well. Despite this, Falconer thought the game deserved a chance and requested a licensing window of about 90 days so that some prototypes could be playtested. She was told her request would be granted if she could convince Gremlin's management. When she met with executives from Paramount, a company owned by the same company that owned Sega/Gremlin, Falconer opened by passing out booklets that highlighted Frogger's gameplay and sales potential. One of the executives, Jack Cameron Gordon, tossed the booklet back and stated that Frogger had already been rejected because it was a "women and kids game". Falconer replied by speculating that the executives were also among those who turned down Pac-Man, a comment that made the room go quiet. After seeing the deflation in resistance, Falconer went on to explain why Frogger was appealing – the gameplay's easily memorizable patterns, the game's aesthetic attractiveness, and its catchy soundtrack were some of the reasons she used. She ended with a simple request: the opportunity to play-test a prototype to gauge player reactions. The room went quiet until one of the executives relented and told the group to "let her have her goddamn kids game".
Sega/Gremlin agreed to pay Konami $3,500 a day for a 60-day licensing window. When the EPROMs for Frogger arrived from Japan and Falconer retrieved them, Gremlin's engineering department took them and used them to create a prototype for Frogger. Once it was completed, the prototype was taken to a bar in San Diego called Spanky's Saloon where it was playtested by a mostly male audience. Gremlin agreed to commit to Frogger if the game tested well at the bar. Gremlin's sales team was impressed at the amount of attention the game was getting, and it was all Sega/Gremlin needed to convince buyers at the AMOA show in October 1981. Distributors were sold on Frogger based on its test run at Spanky's alone.
On the subject of appealing to a broader player base at the time of Frogger's release, Jack Gordon, the director of video game sales at Sega/Gremlin, noted that women shied away from the "shoot em' ups" on the market and that games like Frogger "filled the void".
Frogger was ported to many contemporary home systems. Several platforms were capable of accepting both ROM cartridges and magnetic media, so systems such as the Commodore 64 received multiple versions of the game.
Sierra On-Line gained the magnetic media rights and sublicensed them to developers who published for systems not normally supported by Sierra; Cornsoft published the official TRS-80/Dragon 32, Timex Sinclair 1000, and Timex Sinclair 2068 ports. Because of that, even the Atari 2600 received multiple releases: a cartridge and a cassette for the Supercharger. Sierra released disk and/or tape ports for the C64, Apple II, the original 128K Macintosh, IBM PC, Atari 2600 Supercharger, as well as cartridge versions for the TRS-80 Color Computer.
Parker Brothers received the license from Sega for cartridge versions and produced cartridge ports of Frogger for the Atari 2600, Intellivision, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Atari 8-bit family, TI-99/4A, VIC-20, and Commodore 64. Parker Brothers spent $10 million on advertising Frogger. The Atari 2600 port was programmed by Ed English.
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Frogger was seen as a game that had no age or gender barrier with its appeal. Its success resulted in production of the title stepping up, becoming one of the top-grossing arcade games in North America during 1981. The arcade game earned over $135 million ($384 million adjusted for inflation) for Sega/Gremlin in US cabinet sales, becoming the most successful Sega/Gremlin release. In Japan, Frogger was the 12th highest-grossing arcade game of 1981.
Frogger also sold well in its various home video game incarnations. The 1982 Atari 2600 port earned its publisher Parker Brothers $40 million in orders upon launch. By the end of the year, the Atari 2600 version of Frogger had sold 4 million cartridges and earned $80,000,000 (equivalent to $215,000,000 in 2020) in wholesale revenue. It was the company's most successful first-year product, beating the sales and revenues of its previous best-seller, Merlin. Sierra's home computer version sold more than 100,000 copies in the United States by 1985. The various home versions sold 20 million copies worldwide by 2005, including 5 million in the United States.
Computer and Video Games reviewed the arcade game in 1981. They called it "one of the popular new generation of arcade games which are getting way from space themes." In his 1982 book Video Invaders, Steve Bloom described Frogger as a "climbing game" along with Space Panic (1980) and Nintendo's Donkey Kong (1981). He said it was one of the "most exciting variations" on Pac-Man's maze theme along with Donkey Kong due to how players need to "scale from the bottom of the screen to the top" which make them "more like obstacle courses than mazes" since "you always know where you're going — up." Brett Alan Weiss of AllGame later reviewed the arcade game, calling it one of "the most beloved videogames ever created" and "pure, undiluted gaming at its finest." He said the "graphics are cute and detailed, the sound effects are crisp and clear, and the controls are sharp and responsive."
Arcade Express reviewed the Atari VCS version in 1982, calling it "a highly authentic granslation of the coin-op hit" that combines "great graphics with sophisticated play action." Ed Driscoll reviewed the Atari VCS version of Frogger in The Space Gamer No. 58. Driscoll commented that, "All in all, if you liked the arcade version, this should save you a lot of quarters. The price is in line with most cartridges. It also proves that Atari isn't the only one making home versions of the major arcade games for the VCS." Danny Goodman of Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games wrote in 1983 that the Atari 2600 version of Frogger, "is one of the most detailed translations I have seen", noting the addition of the wraparound screen. In 2013, Entertainment Weekly named Frogger one of the top ten games for the Atari 2600.
Remakes and sequels
Hasbro Interactive released Frogger, a vastly expanded remake of the original for Microsoft Windows and the PlayStation in 1997. Unlike the original, the game consisted of multiple levels, each different than the preceding one. It was a commercial success, with the PC version alone selling nearly one million units in less than four months. In 1998, Hasbro released a series of ports of the original game for the Sega Genesis, Super NES, Game com, Game Boy, and Game Boy Color. Each port featured the game with different graphics, with the Sega Genesis port featuring the same graphics of the original arcade game. The Sega Genesis and SNES versions were the last games released for those consoles in North America. Despite using the same box art, the ports are otherwise unrelated to the 1997 remake.
In 2005, InfoSpace worked with Konami Digital Entertainment to create the mobile game Frogger for Prizes, in which players across the U.S. competed in multiplayer tournaments to win daily and weekly prizes. In 2006, the mobile game version of Frogger grossed over $10 million in the United States. A Java port of the game is available for compatible mobile phones.
A port of Frogger was released on the Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 on July 12, 2006. It was developed by Digital Eclipse and published by Konami. It has two new gameplay modes: versus speed mode and co-op play. Some of the music, including the familiar Frogger theme, was removed from this version and replaced with other music. This version was included in the compilation Konami Classics Vol. 1.
The home versions of Frogger had numerous sequels, including:
- Frogger II: ThreeeDeep! (1984)
- Frogger (PlayStation, Windows) (1997)
- Frogger (Tiger Electronic) (1998, LCD Game)
- Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge (PlayStation, Windows, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color) (2000)
- Frogger: The Great Quest (PlayStation 2, Windows) (2001)
- Frogger's Adventures: Temple of the Frog (Game Boy Advance) (2001)
- Frogger Advance: The Great Quest (Game Boy Advance) (2002)
- Frogger Beyond (PlayStation 2, Windows, Xbox, GameCube) (2002)
- Frogger's Adventures 2: The Lost Wand (Game Boy Advance) (2002)
- Frogger's Journey: The Forgotten Relic (Game Boy Advance) (2003)
- Frogger's Adventures: The Rescue (PlayStation 2, GameCube, Windows) (2003)
- Frogger: Ancient Shadow (PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox) (2005)
- Frogger: Helmet Chaos (Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable) (2005)
- Frogger Puzzle (mobile game) (2005)
- Frogger's 25 Anniversary (Xbox 360) (2006)
- Frogger Evolution (J2ME) (2006)[better source needed]
- My Frogger Toy Trials (Nintendo DS) (2006)
- Konami Kids Playground: Frogger Hop, Skip & Jumpin' Fun (PlayStation 2)
- Frogger Launch (Windows Mobile) (2007)
- Frogger Hop Trivia (arcade) (2007)
- Frogger 2 (Xbox 360) (2008)
- Frogger Returns (Wii, PlayStation 3) (2009)
- Frogger Beats 'n' Bounces (J2ME) (2008)
- Frogger Inferno (iOS) (2010)
- Frogger (Windows Phone) (2010)
- Frogger 3D (Nintendo 3DS) (2011)
- Frogger Decades (iOS) (2011)
- Frogger Free (iOS) (2011)
- Frogger: Hyper Arcade Edition (Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android) (2012)
- Frogger Free (iPhone, Android) (2012)
- Frogger's Crackout (Windows Store) (September 11, 2013)
- Frogger: Get Hoppin (casino game) (2017)
- Frogger In Toy Town (Apple Arcade) (2019)
- Frogger (Intellivision Amico) (upcoming; year unknown)
Unofficial clones include Ribbit for the Apple II (1981), Acornsoft's Hopper (1983) for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, A&F Software's Frogger (1983) for BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum, PSS's (Personal Software Services) Hopper for the ORIC 1 in the UK (1983) and a later release for the ORIC Atmos, Froggy for the ZX Spectrum released by DJL Software (1984), Solo Software's Frogger for the Sharp MZ-700 (1984) in the UK, and a version for the NewBrain under the name Leap Frog.
Several clones retained the basic gameplay of Frogger while changing the style and/or plot. Pacific Coast Highway (1982), for the Atari 8-bit family, splits the gameplay into two alternating screens: one for the highway, one for the water. Preppie! (1982), for the Atari 8-bit family, changes the frog to a preppy retrieving golf balls at a country club. Frostbite (1983), for the Atari 2600, uses the Frogger river gameplay with an arctic theme. Crossy Road (2014), for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, has a randomly generated series of road and river sections. The game is one endless level, with only one life and a single point given for each forward hop.
In popular culture
In the 1998 Seinfeld episode "The Frogger", Jerry and George visit a soon-to-be-closed pizzeria they frequented as teenagers and discover the Frogger machine still in place, with George's decade-old high score still recorded.
In 2008, the City of Melbourne created a spin-off called Grogger as part of a public service campaign to encourage people to take safe transportation home after a night of drinking.
Upcoming TV series
Konami announced that a Frogger game show is in production for Peacock, it's being produced by Konami Cross Media NY and Eureka Productions. People can currently sign up to be contestants for the show.
On November 26, 1999, Rickey's World Famous Sauce offered $10,000 to the first person who could score 1,000,000 points on Frogger or $1,000 for a new world record prior to January 1, 2000. On March 25, 2005, Robert Mruczek offered $1,000 for beating the fictitious world record of 860,630 as set by George Costanza in an episode of Seinfeld or $250 for a new world record by the end of that year. On December 1, 2006, John Cunningham offered $250 for exceeding the same fictitious world record of 860,630 points by February 28, 2007. No one was ever able to achieve any of the bounties, and these scores were surpassed only after the bounties had all expired.
The first score to have been verified as having beaten the fictional George Costanza Seinfeld score of 860,630 points was set by Pat Laffaye on December 22, 2009, with 896,980 points. This was surpassed by Michael Smith of Springfield, Virginia, with a score of 970,440 points on July 15, 2012. The current Frogger world record holder is Pat Laffaye of Westport, Connecticut, USA. On August 15, 2017, he scored 1,029,990 points, becoming the first and only person ever to break one million points on an original arcade machine.
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Just before the holidays, Hasbro Interactive introduced a PC version of Frogger; in less than four months, it has sold nearly one million units
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