The Frog World
From Takahiro Miyazawa, otherwise known as SKT-Products, comes The Frog World. Immersing and beautifully textured, The Frog World will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played a 3D platform game in the last decade. Gathering stars in order to access new levels? Time trials that force you to go from point A to point B as quickly as possible? Frustrating clipping problems and difficult to estimate jumps? It's all there in your browser, thanks to Macromedia's Shockwave 3D.
The first thing you'll want to do is set the text to English on the title screen. The controls, which are visible below the game window as well as in an extensive help menu, are not very demanding: Use [left], [right] and [up] arrow keys to move, and hold the [down] key to zoom out the camera. The frog will do a short hop if you tap the [space] bar; hold it for more distance. [Z] sets the camera to a first person view. Although you can't move while holding Z it is especially helpful for targeting insects, which you can grab and eat by pressing [X]. Finally, press [S] while inside a portal to exit a level.
The game begins with four levels of training. You'll soon find yourself in a hub area with portals to all five Frog Worlds. You can save your progress on a leaf in the center of the room; a good thing, as there are 72 stars to collect and over a dozen individual levels to explore. You won't be exploring them all right away, however; predictably, you'll need to collect a prerequisite number of stars before entering all but the first world. Sometimes you'll find stars floating in plain sight, but just as often you'll have to eat all the available bugs, or successfully complete a time attack. Time attacks begin when you find a clock icon and end when you reach a checkpoint (or run out of time trying).
Analysis: The Frog World's style is refreshingly realistic; the scenery is more Pikmin than Mario. Wisely, Miyazawa didn't create yet another wisecracking anthropomorphic mascot to star in his game; wandering around the well-constructed environments as an actual frog provides an excellent sense of scale and atmosphere. Unfortunately, The Frog World suffers from the same problems as most 3D platform games. Clipping errors and camera problems are far too common and, in a game heavily based on jumping, it's not easy to determine how close you can get to an edge without falling off, or when you're going to be able to pass through an object versus bumping your head on it. All things considered, The Frog World is an impressive, well constructed effort, and fun for an hour or two.