Do you play video games? Have you never heard the term video game before? Either way, you probably know about Frogger. The original 1981 arcade game is so engrained in pop culture, it’s what your grandma thinks all video games are like.
But for a decade afterward, Frogger didn’t do much frogging. There was an ’84 sequel, but more well remembered by children of the 80s and 90s is the 1997 reboot game (also called Frogger) for the Playstation. This was a sensible reboot that put Frogger into a 3D, polygonal world, made him look more like an expressive frog and less like a pile of pixels, and translated the grid-based movement of the original into an adventure setting. The franchise was poised for… well, not greatness, but certainly existence. So, why don’t we have Frogger in 2015?
Maybe it’s because Konami released Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge in 2000, and everyone who played it went insane.
Here’s the thing about Swampy’s Revenge: the gameplay is very similar to its predecessor. You hop around a level, hit switches, and rescue baby frogs. Fine. But it appears that after completing a decent game, Konami assigned a single underpaid programmer to design and create the cut scenes to shove between the levels. He agreed, and then proceeding to make… something.
Let’s look at the opening cut scene.
The game begins with Swampy, a disgusting mess who is ostensibly an alligator but clearly a dinosaur, drunkenly wandering down the street without a purpose. You may be asking, “who is Swampy?” Well, the game tells us when this drunken asshole catches sight of… uh, posters advertising Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge.
Seeing Frogger is a bit of a trigger for Swampy, who has a flashback to 1984, when Frogger jumped on his back to get across the river.
In response to this, Swampy gets into a truck(?) and immediately tries to run over Frogger, who is sitting in the middle of a busy city street for no discernible reason. Frogger jumps out of the way, and Swampy shakes his fist in frustration. But then a BOULDER APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE in the middle of the city, poised to crush our hero. Luckily, he’s rescued by his… frog girlfriend…?
So, let’s recap. The main villain of this game is a revenge-seeking background alligator from the original Frogger. His revenge plot is set in motion when he sees an advertisement for the video game he is in, which is already subtitled Swampy’s Revenge. This is the most meta thing I’ve ever seen, and this game was made in 2000, before anyone even said “meta.” Was Swampy’s path in life predetermined by fate? How could the posters for the game exist before Swampy put the events of the game in motion? IS THERE ANY FREE WILL!?
Okay. So that’s insane, but maybe other cut scenes clean up the loose ends. I’m kidding. They’re equal parts horrifying and baffling.
Having ignored their insane circumstances in the city, Frogger and Froggette are sitting on lily pads in a swamp. It’s also apparent by this point that our heroes face absolutely every situation with a horrifying, dead-eyed stare.
The eyes that haunt my dreams.
While they stare into space, Swampy pops up from behind a rock and begins shoving baby frogs into a bag. As Swampy blatantly kidnaps every frog in the area, Frogger and Frogette ignore the problem and nuzzle their heads together. This further displays the true message of this game: Frogger is a callous dickhead.
His amphibian lust temporarily satiated, Frogger notices Swampy and lets loose a blood-curling scream to the heavens. Swampy makes a slow escape, and his bag rips open in the most sickeningly alien way, like a hole being ripped in space itself. He leaves behind a trail of baby frogs, because I guess he doesn’t care about anything.
Honestly, this cut scene is less conceptually insane than the first, but you really need to see it to understand. Everything looks not just awful, but like an entirely different dimension where everything is made of spooky angles, jitters, and the sounds of dying Muppets. It’s impossible to not watch this video like a hundred times in a row. This cut scene was the point at which I set down my controller and whispered to my Playstation, “You did this.”
Where could the story even go from here? Well, apparently the first step in Swampy’s plan is to fling baby frogs into pyramids.
I can understand that. But I can’t understand the shit that goes down once Swampy launches himself into space.
Swampy, our beleaguered hero, docks his rocket ship on a space station. He then heads inside and shoves a CD into a computer. This causes the space station to broadcast… this…
…to either all televisions in the world, or just the one in the swamp that all frogs watch.
There is so much of this I cannot begin to understand. Why did this need to be done in outer space? Did Swampy make this game himself? Maybe I missed the scene establishing that Swampy spent the last 20 years getting a degree in Game Design from Devry, because I was pretty sure he was a homeless alcoholic. And were the cut scenes written by Charlie “Konami” Kaufman?
You know what? Swampy may be the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen, but I’m on his side. I hate Frogger. Frogger’s an asshole. Frogger’s the kind of guy who says, “We should order a pizza,” then doesn’t offer any money when it shows up, but jumps on your head to help himself get across the river while you drown.
So how does this game (read: mind-fuck) end?
After watching this cut scene multiple times, I have absolutely no idea. The only facts I could cobble together are as follows:
- Swampy attempts to manufacture his video game by putting baby frogs into cardboard boxes and selling them, which is a risky strategy at best.
- Swampy keeps his kidnapped baby frogs in a room labeled “Baby Storage.” Whoa.
- The consistency of lava is that of a Jell-o mold.
- Physics are a meaningless construction of humans, and frogs need not be concerned.
- Baby storage.
So that’s the storyline of Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge. And that’s why I’m writing this from a Pennsylvania mental hospital. My only solace in life is knowing that no other Frogger game could contain more horror than this one.
Goodbye, cruel world.
Jonathan Persinger is a fiction/pop culture writer from Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Cracked, eFiction, the Avalon Literary Review (Summer 2014), Quail Bell Magazine, and more, with upcoming work in the Potomac Review and Scribble. He runs There’s a Snake in My Boot!, where he makes fun of TV shows aimed at children. He’s also the founding editor of Remarkable Doorways Online Literary Magazine, which is currently open for submissions.
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