Frogger debuted in 1981 and has seen many spin-offs and clones; Banzai Rabbit is one such clone but it has so much variety and polish that it’s really a homage to the classic arcade game rather than a blunt rip-off. Many of the ideas in this game were part of the original Frogger, and that’s certainly true of the first few levels. Get past the classic road/river combo and you’ll find multilayered stages that include a busy train station and factory setting, both with subtle twists on the classic gameplay.
Controls come in three flavours; two types of virtual buttons (a virtual directional pad or six directional arrows) or a swipe to move control that works admirably for the most part. You also get two contextual action buttons whenever you pick up one of the game’s two power ups; a slow motion one that can help you get across a narrow gap quickly and painlessly, and a super jump that allows you to hover above everything briefly before swiping to jump to a safe spot. The two abilities make the game much easier to cope with; Frogger was always a hard game and this homage is no exception. Additionally, you collect mutagen (green orbs) along the way in order to buy continues; there are at least ten mutagen on each level so if you get them all then you should have no trouble being able to restart from where you last left off. Fail to collect at least ten and you will have to start the whole campaign over.
You’ll be rescuing ordinary people that are infected with a poison that only you have the antidote for; you have to be quick too, because if you don’t reach them before the clock runs out they’ll mutate into an insect and fly away. When you reach these people they are evacuated from play and then the level is rotated around, changing your strategy to get across quite a bit. All the obstacles are on a timer and will appear (and disappear) predictably but that doesn’t mean that it’s not hard to get used to; especially when you’re dealing with grey submarines that submerge and resurface quite a bit! We also liked the levels with the train darting through the median, normally a safe area where there are no obstacles.
What really makes the game stand out is the incredibly detailed 3D graphics; lavishly textured and brightly coloured. With the scenery changing as much as it does it’s clear that there’s a lot of attention to detail here; the developers could have easily left it at the first stage but instead created several different stages, further enhancing the story which is told via various comic strips that appear throughout the game.
The game isn’t without its problems however; save state and iPod music both are unsupported; the game however somewhat unhelpfully remembers exactly how many lives you have at all times. The 3D camera doesn’t always give you the best view especially with the taller obstacles, the game can sometimes incorrectly register a swipe and if you skip the end of the bonus stage you won’t receive all of the lives that you were owed; you have to wait for the game to add them slowly and tediously. However, the game tends to make up for this with its playability. It is a very fun game, all told.
Overall, Banzai Rabbit is definitely one we’d recommend; though not without its problems, the game is easily worth 59p. It updates an arcade classic and does so with pride, and that isn’t something we can say about any game.
Gorgeous 3D graphics may seem like overkill for a 59p Frogger clone. However, adding in new elements whilst sticking to the classic formula make Banzai Rabbit a real winner.
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