Q. Why did the frog cross the road?
A. Because the videogame developer thought it would be fun.
Think of classic old videogames from the eighties and chances are the first game you’ll come up with is either Space Invaders or Pacman. Some might say Donkey Kong perhaps, but one classic that I’m sure most will remember but might not think of straight away is Frogger.
Games back then ran on very low powered hardware and so had to be simple. Most consisted of just a single game screen which the player just played over and over again, with the game getting harder each time you completed the level. Frogger fits firmly into this methodology.
The premise is simple. A number of frogs wish to return to the safety of their riverside homes, but in order to do so they have to get across a busy road. Thanks to the scale of the game your froggie was about the same size as the average car, but colliding with a car was instant death, and you would have to start again from the bottom of the screen.
Once you got the frog half way up the screen there was a little rest point (although on harder levels I think it used to be patrolled by a crocodile) which led onto a river. Logs and turtles were floating apace down the river (in different directions somehow) and you had to hop across these to finally get to one of the five holes at the top of the screen. Quite why the frog died if it entered the river is a mystery. Perhaps it was freezing cold, or full of piranhas who had a dislike for turtle?
Get five frogs to the top of the screen and the game repeated again, but with faster moving obstacles, and some of the turtles would suddenly dip under the water, causing your frog to drown if they were riding on their shells. To add to the difficulty you were also up against the clock, and running out of time was instant game over.
Frogger was created by Japanese developer Konami, but was published worldwide in arcades by Sega in 1981. There were many home computer versions of the game, some based around frogs, and some not, for example Horace Goes Skiing, a Spectrum and Commodore 64 game which featured a strange blue blobs with legs who first had to cross a road to get some skis, then return across the road to go skiing with them.
Surprisingly, there was no official Frogger sequel game until 1997, when Frogger 3D was released. This game involved controlling a frog around a 3D landscape to try and find its children. Since then there have been several games to take the Frogger name, but these have mostly become arcade adventure style games rather than a return to the somewhat simple idea of gettings frogs from one side of the road to another.