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Board Games Retro: “Frogger” Won’t Get You Hopping Mad

3 Minute Read
Dec 2 2020
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It’s always great to find a board game which perfectly represents the source material and makes for some pretty fun gameplay along the way.

Continuing our ever-increasing review catalog of arcade-based retro board games, today we are taking a look at Frogger, the most exciting road-crossing game ever made [citation needed].

Little Bit of History

According to video game legend, when Elizabeth Falconer, market researcher for Sega and owner of the world’s coolest last name, was pitching the idea of Frogger to the executives at Sega’s parent company, Paramount, it was shot down for being a too cute and simple. However, Falconer got the executives to agree to license the game from Konami after reminding them they had previously turned down Pac-Man a few years prior.

Who knows how true this story is? But it’s a fun “stickin’ it to the man” Hollywood moment that probably never actually happened. Oh well.

Anyway…

Gameplay

Frogger is a 2 player roll-to-move with some take-that mechanics. The objective of both players is to move all 3 of their frogs to the opposite side of the board. However, as you might expect, along the way are rivers and roads, logs and cars, and also flies.

On each player’s turn, they roll the die. If they roll a number, they have some options. They may:

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  • Move any of their frogs
  • Move any log 1 space
  • Move either car

The movement can be divided however the player wishes. If they roll a 3, they can move one of their frogs 1 space, then move a car 1 space, then move their frog another 1 space. Players cannot move their opponent’s frogs, however. And when moving frogs, they can only move forward or sideways, no diagonals and notably, no backwards. So don’t get yourself cornered!

Rolling a frog symbol means all frogs on the board (excluding those still in the starting swamp area) move forward 2 spaces. Rolling the log symbol flips a log over, either revealing or hiding the fly on the log. A frog who eats a fly moves forward 2 spaces.

Frogs can stand on the road or the river, however they are susceptible to being smushed! if a frog is run over by a log or car, they are sent back to their starting swamp. As you might expect, if you’ve played the arcade game, frogs can stand on the logs safely and may be carried down river before hopping off.

The first player to successfully navigate all 3 of their frogs to the opposite side of the board wins the game!

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this game is a pretty accurate representation of the source material, which can’t be said for some other retro games we’ve looked at before. It’s got some really clever mechanics that are, frankly, ahead of its time, considering it was released in 1981! Splitting die rolls is not something you see in games of the early 80’s. And it’s funny: you can see the developers almost realized the logs and cars don’t need to “belong” to either player, but it must have been so ingrained that each piece must belong to a certain player.

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Or they were just saving money by cutting a third colored plastic mold. Could be that too.

Did you play arcade Frogger as a kid?
I did and it was one of my favorites!

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