Frogger, Arcade

Konami‘s Frogger was released into video game arcades in 1981 and was an instant hit with gamers.

The basic premise of Frogger is to guide a hopping frog over a road and a river, to reach a safe haven on the other side. The road is full of dangerous traffic that will squish the frog on contact. The only way of crossing the river is by jumping on a series of floating logs that move from left to right at varying speeds. It’s basically an amphibian assault course…

Get five frogs to their homes on the other side and you complete the stage. Bonus points are also awarded for catching and guiding other frogs home.

Every new stage sees the introduction of new and more dangerous hazards. The first stage is relatively easy, with a quiet road and fewer dangers on the river (there are diving turtles that you can only stand on for a limited time). By the second stage, the road is much busier, and there are now alligators to contend with on the water. Later stages also introduce otters and snakes as frog predators. There are so many ways to die in this game…

Frogger is a very simple game to play (requiring only a single joystick – no fire button needed), but feels very satisfying – the game is a masterwork of timing and design and is both challenging and absorbing. Frogger has seen a number of sequels over the years, plus the usual torrent of clones and tributes. It is undoubtedly one of the best and most fondly-remembered games of the early arcade years, and is still worth a play today.

More: Frogger on Wikipedia

10 Best Spy Hunter Conversions

LISTS/\ as decided by The King of Grabs, in order of greatness:

These are just an opinion, but please do feel free to comment with your opinions. Unless you’re a spammer. In which case: do feel free to f*ck off.

Bally Midway‘s classic Spy Hunter is a brilliant overhead race game with guns and bumping cars and speed boats and chasing helicopters, and general high-speed excitement. It is such a good game that it has been converted to pretty much every gaming system known to man.

Here’s our rundown of the top 10 Spy Hunter conversions…

1. Nintendo Entertainment System < Probably the most fun
2. Atari 800 << Better than most
3. Commodore 64 <<< Entertaining
4. ZX Spectrum <<<< A fun conversion
5. ColecoVision <<<<< Pretty good
6. Amstrad CPC <<<<<< Reasonable
7. Atari 2600 <<<<<<< Basic
8. BBC Micro <<<<<<<< Forgettable
9. Apple II <<<<<<<< Rubbish
10. PC MS-DOS <<<<<<<<< Utterly terrible

And, of course, not forgetting the utterly brilliant arcade original.


Spy Hunter Amstrad CPC 01

Spy Hunter, Atari 2600

You’d expect the Atari 2600 version of Spy Hunter to be the runt of the litter, and… it’s actually not too bad.

It’s certainly more playable than the DOS version, and more colourful too. Unfortunately the graphics are very basic. The car sprites are pretty good, and recognisable, but the backdrops are plain and empty with hardly a tree in sight. There are some weird glitches onscreen too, characteristic of certain Atari 2600 games.

Gameplay-wise, there is some fun to be had here. Bumping other cars off the road is satisfying, and quite easy to do. The speedboat section is in there, but – like the flawed Apple II conversion – it’s compulsory. Also: I’m not sure if there are any helicopters. I certainly didn’t see any.

Unsurprisingly, this is a pretty pathetic excuse for Spy Hunter, only really to be played out of curiosity or blind fanaticism.


Spy Hunter, BBC Micro

David Hoskins made this BBC Micro conversion of Spy Hunter for Micro Power, Sega and US Gold (not to mention Bally Midway) in 1986.*

It’s a strange conversion overall. For starters: the scrolling play area is really vertical – more vertical than the arcade original – which is weird. Secondly, the roads are quite empty and there’s only one skill level (that I could find), so no way of increasing the difficulty or the amount of traffic. Thirdly, the speedboat sections come too frequently (the opposite of the arcade version, which is rare, and the NES version, which is super rare), which lessens their ‘specialness’.

Overall, the BBC Micro version of Spy Hunter is a mess. Yes, it’s slightly playable, but it isn’t much fun and it seems to be one of those conversions where the programmer didn’t care enough (or couldn’t see their mistakes) to make it a reasonable representation of the arcade game. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that this is a good game…

* = That’s a hell of a chain of command – four major games companies and they still can’t come up with a decent game… BBC Spy Hunter should have been a lot better considering those involved.


Spy Hunter, Apple II

Like the MS-DOS version of Spy Hunter, the Apple II conversion of the classic Bally Midway arcade game is a bit… erm, rubbish.

Barest of the bare graphics (are they trees, or sprouts?), dodgy controls, and unforgiving gameplay – Apple II Spy Hunter‘s only saving grace are the extra colours (over the DOS version anyway) and the minimal playability.

One to be forgotten, unfortunately.


Spy Hunter, Amstrad CPC

Released by Sega in 1986, this Amstrad CPC conversion of Spy Hunter drives well enough, but looks a bit dented on the outside. Meaning: the graphics are a bit basic.

I thought the Commodore 64 conversion of Spy Hunter was chunky – until I saw this… Thankfully it plays reasonably well, if a little slowly.

What lets the game down, though, is the rather small play window. I would have preferred it if they’d used a bit more of the screen. Amstrad Spy Hunter is still worth a spin if you’re interested in the series.


Spy Hunter, Atari 800

The Atari 8-bit version of Spy Hunter is a cracking rendition, with smooth scrolling and decent sprites. It’s a little chunky, graphically, reminding me of a cross between the Commodore 64 version and the Amstrad version, but the car moves very well and all the Spy Hunter features are present, so it’s not a disappointing experience.

There are two levels of difficulty: Novice and Expert. In Expert there are more vehicles on the road and more helicopters chasing you, making it much more challenging.

The Atari 8-bit version was released on cartridge, as well as disk.


Spy Hunter, PC

Spy Hunter for PC MS-DOS is unfortunately a terrible stinker of a game.

I can forgive the four-colour, CGA graphics, but I can’t forgive the repetitive, dull gameplay and the unresponsive controls.

Other than the scrolling road and the cars and helicopters there is very little here that actually represents the classic original. Other deviations include: the boat section being compulsory, and the boat itself looking like a Pac-Man ghost… There’s so much wrong with this conversion that you have to wonder if the programmer gave even the slightest care about what he was doing.

The DOS version of Spy Hunter was developed by Sega and released in 1984. Shame on them for releasing such dross.


Spy Hunter, NES

The 1987 Nintendo Entertainment System conversion of Spy Hunter was handled by Sunsoft and is an excellent addition to the Spy Hunter family.

In some respects this is better than the arcade original, because it’s not quite so mind-bendingly difficult… That said: it takes a lot of effort to get to the speedboat section, which I think would put it out of reach of many gamers.

Otherwise: all the expected Spy Hunter features are there: vertically-scrolling split roads, switchblade wheels on enemy cars, chasing helicopters, blindingly fast speeds, and unique ‘van docking’ to get weapons upgrades.

NES Spy Hunter is well worth a play if you’re a fan of the original or just like mad driving games.


Spy Hunter, ZX Spectrum

Sega did a marvellous job of converting Bally Midway‘s classic Spy Hunter onto the ZX Spectrum in 1984.

Not only is the game colourful and beautifully-adapted to Sir Clive‘s diminutive machine, but it’s also very playable, fun, and challenging.

Let’s not get too carried away: it’s nowhere near as good as the arcade original, but it is a marvellous adaptation on the Spectrum. All the cars seem to be oversized, which makes them look kinda cute.

This is another game I bought back in the 1980s and enjoyed every minute playing.