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Frogun Review: A Charming Retro Throwback

Frogun cover


Frogun is an old-school platformer developed by Molegato and published by Top Hat Studios Inc. The game is inspired by old-school exploration-based platformers that were extremely popular during the PS1/N64 era. With modern controls and a vivid color palette, Frogun excels in many ways that takes gamers back to that beautiful time in the 90s. Without further ado, here’s our review of Frogun!

Story

At the start, you are introduced to Renata, the daughter of world-renowned explorers and inventors uncovering the deepest secrets all over the world. They take Renata on every one of their expeditions. But in their latest adventure in the Beelzebub Ruins, they leave Renata at the base camp much to her dismay.

Renata and her trusty weapon/companion, Frogun from the game Frogun
Renata and her trusty weapon/companion, Frogun

After waiting for three days and without any news from her parents, Renata realizes that something is wrong as her parents haven’t returned. She takes her parent’s last invention, the Frogun, and sets out on a journey to rescue them. In her journey, she faces many dangerous creatures, insects, and also some interesting people. Some are willing to help her while others are trying to obstruct her journey.

Story-wise it is pretty straightforward for a 3D platformer and personally, I didn’t expect much from it. The conversations between Renata and other characters, especially Jake were a bit too cheesy for me. Engaging with the story isn’t the biggest part of Frogun so if you’re looking for a fun platformer to just enjoy without concerning yourself with the story, then Frogun offers a fun, gameplay-focused experience.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Frogun is fairly basic. As the game title suggests you control Renata who navigates her way across the Beelzebub Ruins with the Frogun. The Frogun is a talking amphibian weapon that uses its tongue to stick to things, acts as a zipline, and is also used to throw enemy creatures away. On top of that, Frogun gives Renata useful advice on how to navigate dangerous environments.

A level in Frogun
A level in Frogun

Traversing the world isn’t complicated as you basically need to collect coins and various collectibles like gems and lost notes while you strive towards the completion of a level. The enemies aren’t that threatening at all and the challenge comes from the environment itself. Not jumping timely can be the difference between life and death in this game as you’ll need to start from the beginning of the level or at the latest checkpoint.

You’ll also collect special collectibles like gems and notes from various NPCs like Renata’s parents. Getting these collectibles is a bit more challenging as they are set on different paths and require much harder and sometimes quicker traversals. To me, this is where the game shines as I became obsessed with searching for the collectibles more than completing the level.

The enemies are mainly different kinds of bugs and insects that you can either avoid or take down quickly using Frogun’s sticking ability. Additionally, you can jump on them and quickly turn them into squash. Either way works but I personally prefer squashing them if we’re being honest. I would have liked it if the Frogun had a bit more unique abilities in combat because other than sticking and giving advice, it just seemed useless at some points.

Renata chasing Jake, one of the people she meets during her adventure in Frogun
Renata chasing Jake, one of the people she meets during her adventure

After completing each level there is a path on the map you have to follow in order to start the next level. It’s a neat little detail that I honestly really liked. There’s also a shop where you can buy hats for Renata. You can also browse the bestiary, gallery, and medals you’ve earned in the game.

The shop in Frogun
The shop in the game

Controls

On my playthrough, I used the mouse and keyboard at first, and surprisingly, I liked it. Although it is a bit clunky at times and needs more refinement. I also noticed input lag while using the mouse and keyboard. Restarting the level seems to solve the problem. Framerate drops were also apparent in some cutscenes as well.

Using the gamepad, however, brought me back to those Playstation 1 days playing Spyro and Crash Bandicoot. It just blended so well and the fun I had brought back some great memories. If you’re looking for complete accuracy in platforming, I definitely recommend using a controller in your playthrough.

Visuals and Audio

Visually the game has an amazing color palette which is one of the reasons I fell in love with the art direction. The different environments you traverse as Renata are unique and excels in their own way. Each level has some sort of uniqueness to it that making the variety quite captivating. The art style is obviously reminiscent of the original platformers from the mid to late 90s. But the attention to detail no matter how pixelated is amazing. The photo mode was also great to use as you could do some funny poses with Renata.

The colors of the coins, enemies, and even the vases set around the levels are crisp and finely detailed. The lava sections were most visually striking to me as the bright and fiery colors made it easier for me to engage than on any other level. Renata herself although pixelated has smooth animations while moving and traversing.

Nothing quite like dabbing in the midst of unknown territory via the Photo Mode

A great thing about the game was that you could choose from five different kinds of screen filters to play with. These filters offer immersion in different ways but all brought me back to an era that seems all but forgotten.

The soundtrack was more reminiscent of an 80s arcade and honestly, it was great to hear it while I was strolling through the levels. The start menu pretty much got me excited and hyped up to play Frogun, to say the least.

Level Design

I really had fun playing in the opening levels more than the later ones just for the visuals, if I’m being fair. Each level has a similar design going for it with steps, structures, caves, and a few occasional traps. Even being a 3D platformer, the detail on each of the structures is appreciative.

There are levels set during the day and night with the locations like jungles, temples, lavas, and snowy sections. For me, the night jungle and snowy sections were the most fun. These required a bit more of your quick decision-making regarding which paths to take. Navigating some areas required quick-time movements as well, which were the most exciting to me. Visually, the level design was pretty much the same except for some unique enemies and traveling paths.

Verdict

Frogun is an amazing throwback to the golden era of 3D platformers that made this genre of games earn its iconic status. It’s fun, exciting, and charming in all aspects and excels especially with its beautifully designed world. The level design has a unique and modern blend of everything including a variety of enemies and certain sections that will test your quick thinking ability. The challenges it offers, though not that difficult, are surely entertaining. The Frogun itself felt a bit underutilized though but overall, it’s a lighthearted experience that is perfect for unwinding on the weekends.

Renata and Frogun

What do you think of our review of Frogun? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to check out our reviews of other games!

This review is based on the Steam version of Frogun. The key was provided by Molegato.

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