reviews\ Dec 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Zapper - GBA - Review

If it looks like Frogger, sounds like Frogger, and moves like Frogger, is it Frogger? Well, no. But it's close.

Zapper is a little feisty cricket whose brother has been kidnapped by a magpie. Zapper must travel through different worlds looking for his brother, collecting eggs along the way before they hatch. There are five worlds, with a total of twenty levels. There are also three save slots available.

Although the worlds are presented differently, the same gameplay is present in all. As in the classic Frogger, Zapper can hop one square at a time. The main goal is to avoid hazards and collect all the orbs and eggs in each level as fast as possible. The first levels are not difficult, with easily avoidable hazards, but on the later levels the hazards become more numerous and harder to evade. Zapper starts out with five lives, and if these become used up, the level starts over again. Powerups are present, but don't change Zapper's powers all that much and only last a short time.

Moving Zapper is easy enough, but sometimes keeping the different controls for movement straight can be a problem for the more dyslexic of us. The directional control pad is the basic hopping control for Zapper, but he can super jump with the "B" key, and also turn in place with the "R" and "L" buttons. If players forget to turn first before moving, they can be in trouble. Also forgetting to use the superjump instead of simply moving forward can lead to death. But most players won't have an issue with this.

Having Zapper move only one square at a time makes for easy gameplay, as the super twitchy collision control seen too often in action games simply isn't present here. Either Zapper is in a safe square, or he's in a dangerous square, no in-between. The hazards/enemies also only move in subscribed paths, so plotting out a path and waiting until the danger is past is all that is needed. The difficulty lies in the complicated moves and timing that are sometimes required in the later levels.

This game for the most part is single-player oriented, but there is a multi-player mode as well which mainly involves several arcade games with timing being the main object. As this requires another GBA and a link cable, we didn't get to test this option.

Zapper is one cute little bug, and watching him move around is fun. The other characters are equally as cute and well-animated. The backgrounds are bright and colorful and really stand out; kids will enjoy the look of the worlds. The music is charming, and stands out against most games of this sort.

This is totally a Frogger clone, despite the differences in some gameplay elements and visuals. Is it as fun as Frogger? Well, not quite, although it is pretty good for the type of game it is. There isn't the same level of challenge and depth, but this is still a worthwhile game to play for the younger crowd. Young players will enjoy playing a game where timing isn't an issue, and where success mainly depends on scoping out the level and planning accordingly without worrying about falling off ledges by jumping too far. Replayability is present in the challenge of trying to get all the orbs and powerups the next time around. Older and more experienced players, however, will finish this game in a matter of hours and probably not be tempted to go back.

This is a good choice for parents who are looking for a non-violent, fairly easy game for their kids that is fun to play, but older players will probably want something with a little more challenge.

Gameplay: 7
The simple movements and lack of collision problems make this a fairly easy game for most players. Collecting the eggs and orbs is fun enough, and watching Zapper hop around is cute. However, this game is really too simple for experienced gamers, but that's a good thing for kids.

Graphics: 8 
Very nice drawings and animations which will appeal to children.

Sound: 8
We really liked the music!

Difficulty: Easy
Most of these levels are easy.

Concept: 6.5 
This is just a clone, but one that is done well-enough.

Multiplayer: Yes
There is a multi-player option for various arcade type games, which require multiple copies of the game to play.

Overall: 7.3
An excellent choice for younger players who will enjoy hopping Zapper around, but older gamers will probably prefer to rent.


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