A classic Sega game from 1981 and a must for any arcade owner. Wood grain sides, crisp crt monitor.
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The game starts with three, five or seven frogs, depending on the settings used by the operator. These are counted as the player's lives, and losing them results in the end of the game, or "game over." 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. The number of simultaneous players is one, and the game has a maximum of two players.
The objective of the game is to guide each frog to one of the designated spaces at the top of the screen, also known as "frog homes." The frog starts at the bottom of the screen, which contains a road with motor vehicles, which in various versions include cars, trucks, buses, dune buggies, bulldozers, vans, taxis, motorcycles, and even bicyclists speeding along it horizontally. The player must guide the frog between opposing lanes of traffic to avoid becoming roadkill, which results in a loss of one life. After the road, there is a median strip where the player must prepare to navigate the river. 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. While navigating the river, the player must also avoid the open mouths of alligators, snakes, and otters. The very top of the screen contains five "frog homes," which are the destinations for each frog. The player must avoid alligators sticking out of the five "frog homes," but may catch bugs or escort a lady frog which appear periodically for bonuses.
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 directed home, 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 bonus frog is given at 10K or 20K, and none thereafter. 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.
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 Hana no Ko Lunlunand Araiguma Rascal. The United States release kept the opening song intact, and added "Yankee Doodle Dandy".