Frogun Review - Screenshot 1 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

At a time when game developers are consistently striving to create something photorealistic and fully immersive, we begin to lose touch with the games that kept us up at night as kids. Luckily Molegato, the developer of Frogun, kept this in mind as this crisp, retro-style puzzle platformer came to fruition.

The story of Frogun follows Renata, the friendly, outgoing, excitable daughter of two world-renowned explorers. But when she’s left at her family's base camp for a handful of days, she takes it upon herself to rescue her parents from the Beelzebub ruins — the most dangerous expedition her family has gone on yet. So, placing faith in her trusty Frogun (a frog-shaped invention that can grab onto anything with its tongue), Renata sets off to the ruins in an attempt to find her parents.

Even though the story is a tale as old as time, it doesn’t become tedious or repetitive. Usually, adventure-based games rely on their story to show the emotional development of character, but Frogun takes us back to basics and reminds us of what is, and always has been, great about gaming — fun. The game can be played with or without the story in mind, which we particularly enjoyed. This instantly makes Frogun replayable, but pair this with its sometimes punishing level design, and you don’t have a choice in whether you want to replay it or not.

Frogun Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The mechanics are relatively simple, with two buttons that control your Frogun and allow Reneta to jump. A short in-game tutorial takes you through holding the R button to slow your jump's descent and allow more space for longer vaults as you progress through realms and become more reliant on leaps of faith. Although this tutorial seems simple to pull off initially, as gaps between floating objects get wider and wider for Renata, these jumps will have you sealing your eyes closed and hoping you’ve got two feet on solid ground.

With a title so dependent on its platforming, the controls are expected to come with an unmatched fluidity, which is where we faced one of the only challenges throughout this game. Although the controls are basic, aiming and landing a successful shot from Frogun feels more dependent on luck than skill. It feels almost impossible to aim the gun at times, and standing straight against a wall or on a platform will veer the target of your gun slightly to the right. But an upcoming patch has promised a few minor quality-of-life changes which will make the game slightly smoother and a little fairer.

After falling and repeating yourself numerous times on each level, you begin to get a feel for the platforming, which is when Frogun’s true colours shine. The story takes Reneta through five different realms, all of which contain a mass of different enemies and obstacles. Additionally, there are several collectibles and goals to meet to 100% a level. Although each completed run will reward you with a bronze fly amulet, meeting specific goals such as collecting every coin will improve the brooch. Unfortunately, there aren’t any rewards or buffs for completing each goal, but the amulet certainly looks pretty when finished.

Frogun Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Within each standard level, a race and a boss battle provide a breath of fresh air before the levels become too frustrating to repeat. The races between Reneta and Jake are amusing but arguably the most disappointing element of the game and are easily the most frustrating element of gameplay that had us stuck for hours trying to progress. With it being titled a ‘race,’ you’d expect to move fast and tactically, but you have to wait for Jake to move before you can even think about it.

Every time Renata gets too close to Jake, she takes damage, which is almost impossible to avoid due to the one-way paths you both have to go down before reaching the finish line. Sure, there are several shortcuts and a few somewhat risky manoeuvers you can complete to get one step ahead, but they have to be executed perfectly, or you may as well start over.

However, the boss battles that commence at each realm's end are a redeeming factor. While you face many bug-based enemies and the occasional rodents throughout each domain, the boss battles introduce towering terrors with an easy-to-memorize moveset. So, repeating the same few moves each turn, you need to knock three to five health points off before claiming your win. As far as boss battles go, they won't put you off completing the game.

Frogun Review - Screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

But the main draw of Frogun is its pixel-perfect art style and accompanying 16-bit soundtrack, which perfectly captures the essence of retro gaming. Chunky polygons and bright colours dominate each realm you explore, from snow-covered mountains to the depths of volatile volcanoes. Unfortunately, the intentionally simple design can occasionally feel overwhelming due to a mass of mobile objects on the screen, such as falling coins or ribbons, which cause the frame rate to dip. Still, aside from that, Frogun certainly looks the part.

To match its upbeat nature, the soundtrack presents a consistent rising tension while maintaining the bright and fun energy of Frogun. As you delve further into the game and reach new depths of Beezlebub’s ruins, this tension only heightens without losing any of its friendly and approachable atmosphere. The competitive, fast nature of the game is perfectly captured by a vast range of appropriate tunes corresponding with whichever domain Renata has set out to explore.

Conclusion

Frogun sets out to do exactly what it intends. There is more than enough to enjoy in the game, with around a five hours campaign to play through and the added replayability of finding collectibles that you may have missed the first time. And, although the story is simple, at no point did we find ourselves getting bored. Even the frustration of repeating levels is genuinely reflective of early gaming. It's safe to say that Frogun succeeds in evoking that retro-style puzzle-platforming of the '90s.