Konami totally phoned it in with Frogger: Ancient Shadow. Aside from having a new double-jump move, this latest installment doesn't bring anything more to the table than its predecessors did. Once again, the classic hop-and-dodge Frogger formula has been used to fashion together a somewhat passable 3D platformer, which is then ultimately soured by problematic controls, tedious level designs, and bargain-basement production values.
Hop, leap, jump, and double-jump your way through nearly 30 levels.
Like its predecessors, Frogger: Ancient Shadow is a 3D platformer steeped in the classic hop-and-dodge Frogger formula. Across seven worlds and roughly 30 levels, you have to safely guide Frogger past traps, moving platforms, puzzles, enemies, and various other obstacles. What makes the game different from traditional platformers is the controls, which put an emphasis on Frogger's hopping abilities. When you push a direction on the control pad, he'll hop one space in that direction. You can turn him left or right without hopping by pressing one of the shoulder triggers. You can also make him jump an extra space by pressing the jump button, leap straight up by pressing the vertical jump button, and extend his tongue to move objects and pull himself across gaps. New to this game is a double-jump move that gives Frogger twice the hang time on vertical jumps, which enables him to attach his tongue onto tree-high hooks and to smash through weak portions of the floor.
Although the controls don't sound unwieldy at first explanation, you'll probably find them extremely unintuitive when you actually sit down to play the game. There are many instances when you have to hop, turn, and jump at a split second's notice, and it's not always easy to pick the correct turn button and hit the proper jump button under such time pressure. It also doesn't help that the isometric camera viewpoint sometimes makes it difficult to tell whether a platform is directly in front of you or one space to the left or right. To further compound matters, the controls don't always respond as quickly as you'd like them to. For instance, you'll hop onto a collapsing platform and know that you have to turn and jump off, but the jump input won't take and you'll end up drowned and thrown back to the last checkpoint. The developers must have recognized these problems too, because you'll find checkpoints and life refills situated right after many of the game's tougher jump sequences. Still, they're not plentiful enough.
Of course, if you do perish before reaching a checkpoint, you'll have to do that portion of the level over again. And if you run out of health points, you'll start right back at the beginning of the level. You'd call that "challenge" in any other game, but here it's more like tedium. First off, some levels take forever to get to the nitty-gritty. It's not uncommon to travel through a huge portion of a level, get past a few mild traps and jumps, and end up slaughtered by one tricky jump sequence or group of enemies later on--forcing you to redo a good five minutes' worth of play time. Secondly, the level designs are flat and boring. With the exception of some breakaway platforms, rushing waterfalls, and the random tongue grapple opportunity, there's very little that will make you ooh and aah while playing.