Frogun, like the golden games of the early 3D era, doesn’t rely on overly complicated lore to set things up for you. Renata’s parents are famed explorers, but when they go missing on an expedition, it’s up to her to track them down using her family heirloom – the Frogun. Don’t worry about what the Frogun is, or why the Frogun is, just roll with it. At the end of the day, this is a game that’s far more focused on old-school platformer fun, and it’s way more than just a winking nostalgia trip.
If you’ve been itching for a return to PS1 and N64-style 3D platformers, then there have certainly been some indie releases in the last few years that pay homage in one way or the other. What makes Frogun so impressive, though, is that every piece of the package – from the art and presentation to the gameplay and mechanics – is firmly rooted in that nostalgic style. I had the biggest grin on my face the first time I saw the classic level select screen, and that grin only widened when I loaded into the beginning level and saw all the makings of the kind of low-poly mega-colourful adventure I’ve been craving more of. Cutesy character models and simple monsters waddle around in blocky environments absolutely drenched with collectables.
It’s hard to purposefully nail that simple and floaty feel of a 90s 3D platformer without the end result just feeling clunky, but Frogun handles it surprisingly well. Running and jumping is blissfully simple and satisfyingly responsive, while the early platforming challenges are easy to overcome and build in difficulty – you can also get caught up even in the earliest and simplest of stages when trying to tackle additional challenges.
Your titular Frogun acts as a horizontal grappling gun, letting you aim and cling to nearby surfaces and pull yourself toward them. You can even pull unsuspecting enemies toward you to then grab and dispatch of them. The frogun can be finicky, but that’s mostly in moments of split-second movement. You don’t have a reticule tied to your camera view, but instead one that appears on whatever your body is facing, so it’s easy to misfire and fall to your death if you aren’t careful. There is an alternate stop-and-aim option to ensure you’ve got it pointed where you want it, but that’ll be a bit harder to use when you’re shooting for certain challenges.
Each level in Frogun is a pretty direct journey, but you’ve got a bunch of collectibles to shoot for that make it easy to replay each one a dozen times. There are rewards for collecting every coin, finding hidden gems, finding super-hidden purple skulls, and even clearing a level without dying or speeding through it in a minute. A standard run through the game won’t take all that long, so it’s really awesome to have so many naturally-baked-in bonus challenges like that to pursue and spend more time with if you so choose. You’ve even got dozens of unlockable hats, collectable concept art, and a pretty adorable photo mode to mess with.
The problems with Frogun are few, at the end of the day. While the platforming and grappling can be clunky at times, they’re minor inconveniences in an addictive package as a whole. Each level is an old-school delight that perfectly scratches that PS1/N64 platformer itch. Complemented with cute art, killer music, and a huge amount of collectibles, this is a game that is well worth your time if you’ve got fond memories of 90s collectathons and low-poly adventures.