I've been sneaking in a bit of time online with the Xbox 360 these past couple days and the two games I've been playing are Project Gotham Racing 3 and the retro game, Frogger. PGR3 features eight cars racing at speeds over 200mph through real-world cities with exquisite hi-definition graphics and sound. Frogger, on the other hand, is Frogger. Just as you remember it, but you can play head-to-head or co-operatively online through Xbox Live.
If I was to have you take a guess as to which of these two games are plagued by lag issues (delay between controller input and on-screen action due to inefficient online handling of information... to put it in idiots terms), which would you guess? Would you guess the one with the 8 racing cars, each comrpised of tens of thousands of polygons and graphics approaching photo-realism? Or would you pick the one involving a single sprite-based frog hopping and bleeping across a street and river?
Yeah, Frogger it is.
Ladies and gentlemen, the rose colored glasses are off. Frogger is crap. Plain and simple. It's hard to make a game that isn't worth $5, but this is it. Not only is the simplistic gameplay not at all fun 20 years after the fact, but the game is broken. For starters, each of the obstacles in the game play as if they are 15% larger than they actually appear, because if Frogger goes anywhere near a car or truck, he dies. Even if he clearly didn't touch it. It's as if the trucks have giant invisible mudflaps or a small invisible trailer behind them that serves no purpose other than to drain every ounce of profanity I have within me. And this isn't just me saying this, I've chatted online with others about this issue and everyone is in agreement -- no game has made them curse more in years than this re-release of good ol' Frogger.
And then there are the online lag issues. It's bad enough the controls are straight out of the 80's, but the ugliest, most low-res game on the Xbox 360 is essentially so laggy online that it's borderline unplayable. Frogger! Lag? Am I kidding you? I wish I wasn't. I played four or five quick head-to-head matches and I swear I could have won each of them by simply standing still and allowing my opponent to try to cross the street. Tap Up on the controller to hop between the cars... pause... jump... splat! Too late, friend. Playing Frogger online is like taking action shots with a cheap digital camera -- you have to anticipate the desired result and press the button before it happens. And pray. And since I'm not a praying type of guy, I simply curse at the tv.
The other day I was all excited because Microsoft announced we'd get a new Live Arcade game every Wednesday "for the rest of the summer" (i.e. till August 9th), but I have to say that Frogger was the last I buy outright without first downloading the trial version. Pac-Man and Galaga are names I remember well from my childhood. But I also remember chicken pox and getting beaten up after school. But that's probably because playing Frogger feels strikingly similar to having having my lunch money stolen.