Well, all right. Even though there's just one fluid screen involved for the whole game, describing the gameplay is probably best divided into two parts, the first of which involves you controlling a frog across a busy highway. Unfortunately, your frog must live on some other planet where society is so beaten down, all of the traffic is controlled automatically, as no one slows down for a poor frog in the middle of the street, or maybe their cars don't have brakes. Whatever the reason, if you jump at the wrong time, you're road pizza.
The second half of the screen involves jumping across a pond in order to make it to the top, which you must hop on turtles, alligators and logs in order to make it home. Unfortunately certain turtles will take a dive and drown you, if a log makes it to the edge of the screen you die (I guess these are magical logs that wrap around to the other side, but they won't warp YOU along with them; whatever), and hopping on an alligator's back is fine, but if you hop into his mouth by accident...well, let's just say that alligators won't exactly toss you back, so it's game over for one of your lives then too ("tastes like chicken!"). If you're able to make it to all of the home bays at the top (which is your goal, to fill 'em all up), you will precede to the next level afterwards, which means more, faster traffic in the first half of the game, and everything moves faster in the top section as well.
Parker Brothers was a pretty solid publisher for the 2600, in my opinion, and Frogger is definitely an excellent example of what they could do. The gameplay is very much like the arcade original, as about all that was missing from this translation was slightly more animated, detailed graphics, and that's about it. The sounds and even the delightful, well-known Frogger tune is even in there (by the way, why the (*#! was this changed for the Gameboy version?). The controls aren't bad overall, although sometimes it seems that your frog, at times, jumps a space or two ahead when you only meant to move him up ONCE -- which usually leads to a disastrous effect -- but hey, what's a game where you can't blame the controls occasionally anyway? :) Plus you can make the game easier or more challenging by flipping the difficulty switch, which can allow your frog to go past the edge of the screen in the pond section without becoming a part of the menu (i. e. frog legs) at the local restaurant.
And a couple of bits of trivia, although most of y'all probably know this stuff anyway, but here goes: One, when the Activision game Freeway came out where you must guide your chicken across several lanes of traffic without getting hit, a lot of people thought legendary game developer David Crane ripped off Frogger, but no, he insists that Freeway was in production before Frogger came out. And two, for some bizarre reason Starpath also made a version of Frogger for the 2600 as well, since Parker Brothers didn't own the magnetic rights to the game, since Starpath's games came out on cassette, which would get me to say "way to [creatively] dodge a lawsuit, Starpath!", but my REAL question is "why?" Why bother with this good enough adaption from Parker Brothers? Who knows, unless Starpath just figured they needed at least one arcade game in their library to help sell their Supercharger product, which was required to play their cassette games.
This is a fun, very decent arcade adaption, and that's pretty high praise, coming from a guy who doesn't really give a care about these slimy amphibians in real life.
Oh, and that reminds me of trivia bit #3: my mom used to own a dog that would eat frogs.
(c) Parker Brothers