Ancient amphibian arcade hit Frogger is being updated for the 21st century with the inclusion of real-time traffic from a New York street.
The astronomically high Frogger score dreamt up for an April 1998 episode of US sitcom Seinfeld has been beaten in real-life by a man called Pat Layaffe. (Yes kids, it's the January news rush.)
What can you say about a game that's become a worldwide institution? A game that has not only had its own TV show (the Frogger cartoon was shown on American TV as part of Saturday Supercade), but has featured in numerous songs (from 'Froggy's Lament' in 1982 to the Sugababes hit 'Freak Like Me' in 2002). It has appeared on virtually every home system and has had more than 15 sequels (though notably only one arcade sequel; 1991's Ribbit). Surprisingly, however, Frogger wasn't the genesis of the series. It's actually a remake of a game from 1972 called 'Freeway'; created at Washington University for the early PDS-1 microcomputer.
With SEGA's weight behind it, the immortal hop-em-up was a phenomenon that spread like a plague, and it's hard to believe there's a single person on the planet that hasn't played Frogger or a game based on it. I suspect that even the staunchest Amish pastor has had a few games (even if it is a 'live action' version with cattle and goats rather than computerised cars and turtles).
Frogger's premise is as simple as it is fun, requiring our amphibious friend to cross a busy road and then navigate a fast flowing river by leaping onto logs and swimming turtles. Many strategies can be employed to get our slimy friends home, but none are more enjoyable than the mad-dash where you sprint around the screen at full pelt, weaving in and out of cars and diving from log to turtle at break neck speed.
Microsoft has temporarily cut the price of three Xbox Live Arcade games for some reason! Isn't that nice?
One of the good things about being a youngster and a 16-bit Internet hack is that I've never had to talk about pumping coins into an arcade machine. Coins? Get lost Granddad! My memories are better. For example, I used to play Frogger on my Dad's Amstrad PC in the garage. Sometimes it had spiders in it. And when Konami people threw Frogger t-shirts at my head during E3, I didn't raise them to my face to help choke back the tears of nostalgia; I threw them back and knocked over a cardboard Solid Snake.
This is a good thing. Because science (well, made-up science) tells me that sentimental attachment is parasitic; a long-term decomposition of objectivity, which transforms the chambered muscular organ in your chest into a chambered round of rose-tinted aggression, ready to be fired off with indignation whenever somebody mucks around with your childhood (another upshot of being young and having no past to speak of is that you have lots of time to waste on rubbish gun metaphors).
So it's handy I'm not like that, because one of the things games companies often do when they bring us updated versions of their old games is, well, update them.