Frogger is a 1981 arcade game developed by Konami and originally published by Sega. In North America, it was published jointly by Sega and Gremlin Industries. The object of the game is to direct frogs to their homes one by one by crossing a busy road and navigating a river full of hazards.
Frogger was positively received and by 2005, Frogger, in its various home video game incarnations, had sold 20 million copies worldwide, including 5 million in the United States. The game found its way into popular culture, including television and music.
The objective of the game is to guide a frog to each of the empty “frog homes” at the top of the screen. The game starts with three, five, or seven frogs, depending on the settings used by the operator. Losing them all ends the game. 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. Frogger is either single-player or two players alternating.
The frog starts at the bottom of the screen, which contains a horizontal road occupied by cars, trucks, and bulldozers speeding along it. The player must guide the frog between opposing lanes of traffic to avoid becoming roadkill, which results in a loss of a life. After the road, there is a median strip separating the two major parts of the screen. 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. The player must avoid snakes, otters, and the open mouths of alligators. A brightly colored lady frog is sometimes on a log and may be carried for bonus points. The very top of the screen contains five “frog homes,” which are the destinations for each frog. These sometimes contain insects (good) or lurking alligators (bad).
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 Lunlun and Araiguma Rascal. The United States release kept the opening song intact and added “Yankee Doodle.”
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 in their homes, 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.