Review: Superfrog HD (PS3/Vita)
Superfrog HD is a fast paced 2D platformer collectathon that is safe for all ages. The remake, much like the original game, has the feel of Sonic with Superfrog’s running abilities. Even if you’re not of the understanding that it’s actually a faithful tribute and not an entire remake of the original 1993 Amiga version, fans of platformers in general should be pleasantly surprised with what Superfrog HD has to offer. Especially if you have both a PS3 and Vita.
Starting with the true way this HD remake should be played, at least at first, is with the Vita as the controller by way of Cross-Controller functionality. If you’re anything like me, you might also be hesitant to jump on board with that statement thanks to the rough introduction to the Vita as a Cross-Controller by way of LittleBigPlanet. Fortunately, Superfrog HD requires no added downloads to get up and running. In fact, all you need is to install the game on your PS3 and Vita. The file sizes are remarkably small, completely unlike the 500+MB added file needed on your Vita to play the LBP 2 Cross-Controller pack.
To get Cross-Controller working, all I had to do was boot up both versions of the game while connected to my home network. On the main menu of the Vita version is an extra option aptly labeled “Cross-Controller.” I just tapped that button…and boom, that’s it. I was able to play several levels on PS3 using my Vita as the controller with barely noticeable lag. Best of all, the game has these hidden portals when using Cross-Controller. Pressing Up on the d-pad near the portal boots the game to the Vita’s 5″ OLED screen to collect a hidden room full of gems, fruits, and coins. While playing with the Vita as a controller, the level map appears on the screen revealing the level as I moved along.
Story level selection will be familiar to anyone familiar with an Angry Birds game and its UI. There are six worlds, each one having four new Superfrog HD levels based on the originals and four truly remade classic Superfrog levels. Essentially, there are eight levels in each world for a total of 48 levels and each has a 3-star rating to earn based on score, time, and deaths. All levels have a countdown clock that will kill Superfrog when it runs out, just like the real world. There are trophies for not only earning all stars for every level, but also finding all the illusive golden lily pads. Collectibles don’t stop there, as you can collect what seems like a million coins each level, cherries, gems, these little green heads as a type of ammunition, and ability enhancing items and potions such as speed boosts, extra hit protection, and the invincibility cloak.
When you’ve run out of levels to play in SuperFrog HD, gamers with the itch to create can hop into the Level Editor and make something new. I’m not a huge fan of level editors, and unfortunately for me, Superfrog HD’s editor isn’t a cakewalk. It doesn’t help that nearly all the objects, enemies, and collectibles must be unlocked through the slot machine mini game playable after beating a level. The only complaint here is that Team17 is forcing me to play the game repeatedly to unlock all of the creation tools. The gamers that prefer a level editor to be uninhibited from bootup might find that really annoying.
Once a level is created and saved locally, the entire Superfrog HD save including the story progress can be uploaded to the cloud and synced with the Vita, and vice versa. This is smart syncing people, not that nonsense where you need to remember which system you’ve played furthest on before syncing, or risk overwriting the wrong save file. The game will determine which save is furthest and update accordingly. Last game I remember with this functionality was Sound Shapes. Although, one thing I discovered is that user-created levels can only be synced to the cloud from within the Level Editor menu. They must then be downloaded from the Level Editor of the other system to complete the Cross-Save.
Like any retro platformer, Superfrog HD has some very frustrating elements. First of all, that camera. The nature of a gamer is to get familiar with the controls. Just doing that will cause you to feel nautious as the camera jukes left and right when you move Superfrog left and right. The quicker you do this, the worst it is. Unlike the original Amiga release, Superfrog HD is next to impossible to move just one character length to either side without falling off a ledge or worse. Now comes my most hated element of this game: spikes.
My new favorite thing to hate in all games for the rest of my life is spikes.
Superfrog can take up to five hits from touching an enemy (touching is bad, ‘mkay), from bullets fired by one of those alien enemies in the sixth world, or even from fireballs, but he can’t go anywhere near spikes. This should be no big deal, but when the invincibility cloak allows to you pass right through every enemy and projectile type without collision, let alone harm, but not the spikes that are often impossible to see when running full speed through a cheerful meadow of cherries, gems, and coins – I get frustrated. To make matters worse, there are actually two types of spikes. The ones that kill you are static while the other are animated to pop out of the ground at intervals. The animated spikes only hurt Superfrog. Really? How about the swinging mace with spikes, does it kill with one hit? Nope. Just the tiny static spikes that don’t make a sound.
The repetitious end-of-world boss battles against the evil witch are not fun at all and become more frustrating after the final three worlds. By the way, Superfrog HD has a story – about prince and princess who were happy until the witch kidnapped the princess and turned the prince into a frog, but the frog found a potion floating in the river and drank it to become Superfrog. The story is somewhat charming and familiar which is why my 6 year old daughter had so much fun playing it. I know there are gamer-moms and dads out there that are always looking for something to play with their kids, Superfrog HD is at the top of the list.
Superfrog HD didn’t have to include all the PlayStation Network bells and whistles, but it does. All issues aside, it stands out as one of the more charming and colorful games on the platform without taking itself too seriously. Add to that it’s a Cross-Buy, Cross-Save, and Cross-Controller supporting game for less than $10 and you’ve got yourself a reason to play with your children (did you need one though?).
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita & PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Cross-Controller support works flawlessly
- Quirky, retro platforming
- Sharp, colorful 2D graphics on both PS3 and Vita
- Level editor
- Fun endless mode in Frog Trials
What I Dislike:
- Cross-Saving of the story and user-created levels is a separate operation
- Story is weak and unnecessary
- Vomit-inducing camera
- Twitch controls