Back when I owned a Commodore Amiga (and believe me that was a long time ago) Team 17 were regarded as one of the most prolific Amiga developers of the time. after the fall of the Amiga they have mostly concentrated on their phenomenally successful Worms franchise but in recent times have started to update other game’s in their back catalogue such as Alien Breed and Super Stardust with varying degrees of success so it was only a matter of time before Team 17 turned their attention to platformer Superfrog. Superfrog was originally released on the Amiga way back in 1993 at a time when Sonic and Mario were ruling the consoles and the Amiga was crying out for its own platforming mascot. It was easy to forget Superfrog lost in a sea of Amiga platform wannabes like Zool and Chuck Rock but it’s a name that comes up from time to time purely because of the reputation of Team 17 at the time. With the current wave of nostalgia and a recent release of the original PC port on GOG it seems Team 17 have finally decided to dust off the old frog and give him the HD treatment.
First impressions are interesting because even though I remember Superfrog I couldn’t actually remember any details about the levels, starting up the HD version and all the memories started flooding back both good and bad. The gameplay certainly holds up as well as can be expected and the graphics are done just well enough to justify the HD moniker. Playing as prince turned into a frog who then takes a swig from a magic potion you set off to rescue the princess. Ok yeah it’s not exactly the most inspired of stories but then it was 1993 after all. Being a frog and indeed a super frog you can jump a fair distance and on every level you will find a cape power up that allows you to glide and a Spud, a little green… thing which you can chuck at enemies from a safe distance. Your standard attack is the usual jump and land on a creature’s head but some enemies have to be death with using Spud. Who knew Hedgehogs were mortal enemies of frogs?
Where Superfrog HD differs from other platformers of the time is the focus on exploration of the levels as opposed to simply rushing through them. Hidden cave paths and spring jumps are found all over the levels, simply touching a suspect wall will cause a passage to open. They aren’t exactly well hidden given the verticality of the levels you can usually find them all by looking for them and then back tracking to where the entrance is likely to be and invariably one secret area will lead directly to another. Therefore the real challenge in Superfrog HD is finding all the secrets and finishing a level in a respectable time. Naturally along with a HD update the game also includes achievements and scoreboards using Steamworks so there is a respectable challenge there for those who love seeing their name at the top of the boards.
Sadly it’s not all good news with the HD update. For one thing while the graphics have undeniably been updated to a reasonable level it never goes beyond that. Levels feel very flat just as the original did, not an issue in 1993 but a problem today when compared to other HD updates likes Duck Tales Remastered. Sound has equally been updated and remixed where appropriate but it never escapes that twee feeling the original had. I’m usually a fan of HD updates in general but when developers are given the chance to improve on the original and they go with a very basic update it always feels like a rather wasted opportunity.
Similarly there is the issue of difficulty, as I alluded to before. You could say there is a genuine hunger for updates of old games because they had a difficulty not often found in modern games. Superfrog was never a hard game and it’s the same here in the HD version. It’s perfectly possible that any gamer can blast through the entirety of Superfrog HD in a few days if not less if they put in the time for one long session. That’s not to say the game is short on content, far from it. In addition to the new levels and updated original levels the game also offers time trials and a level editor though sadly the game doesn’t support Steam Workshop so no sharing levels online. Plenty of actual content for your money, just at a difficulty that won’t challenge many modern gamers.
There is a certain charm to Superfrog HD in that unmistakable Team 17 design and it makes an ideal purchase for younger gamer’s given the generous difficulty and it’s certainly one of the better HD updates that I’ve played. Sadly I always feel a little short-changed when HD remakes don’t really do anything special and Superfrog isn’t special. It will satisfy that retro itch you might have, it will certainly bring back memories of the Amiga for those who remember it and it must be said that Team 17 have wisely priced this appropriately for what it offers. You could do a lot worse than Superfrog HD for a bit of fun over a weekend as long as just a bit of fun is exactly what you are expecting.
- A HD update of an Amiga classic
- Lots of Team 17 character
- Bags of new and updated classic levels
- Level editor adds longevity
- Achievements, Leaderboards and Trading Cards
- Steamplay offering Windows, Mac OSX and Linux versions
- At times almost insultingly easy
- HD update is as bare bones as it gets
- No Steam Workshop support
- Controls can be imprecise at times
Superfrog HD is available from Steam for £6.99 / €8.99