One of the most beloved and recognizable classics in the relatively short history of video games is Konami's Frogger. The timeless gameplay of getting your character from point A to point B, while navigating a busy highway and hazardous river, has spawned many variations during the years and is still fun even today. Banzai Rabbit (formerly called Frogman) is the newest game from Revolutionary Concepts, who most recently brought us the excellent port of Karate Champ, and it takes the very basic premise of Frogger and turns it on its ear with new gameplay twists, gorgeous 3D graphics, and a comic book style storyline. The overall experience feels more like an actual evolution of the Frogger series than any of the spinoffs ever have.

The story starts in a lab, where scientists are experimenting with building teleportation pods. During some commotion, test lab rabbit Banzai escapes his cage, leaping into one of the pods (with a stowaway flea coming along for the ride as well). The pod then activates with two scientists inside, one getting fused with Banzai and one getting fused with the flea. The results are rabbit and flea humanoids. After the dust clears from the accident, the enemy now known as The Flea plots world domination and kidnaps beautiful lab assistant Mary Beth. Having strong feelings for her, Banzai plots how to stop him, and thus the story begins. Ok, it's basically the plot from the 1986 film The Fly mashed up with elements of Spiderman, but it works pretty well in setting up the story for Banzai Rabbit.

The game is set across 34 levels in various locations such as city streets and railyards. You must guide Banzai from one side of the level to the other while avoiding the hazards laid out before you. On the other side of the map is a human who has been infected by The Flea, and if you don't make it to them in time then they will turn into a fly. Once you rescue that person, the perspective of the level flips around and you must make it back the way you came to save a human who's now on the opposite side from you. This continues until you've rescued 5 humans per level. Two different powerups can be collected, one that let's you jump over one of the hazards if need be, and one that slows down time for a short period making it easier to maneuver between the obstacles. It all comes together extremely well, taking a classic mechanic and wrapping it around some new ideas and fantastic visuals.

The area where the game falters is in terms of difficulty. More specifically, a brutally hard, teeth clenching difficulty. George Costanza couldn't beat this. The levels start to pick up in pace and complexity about a third of the way through the game. It took countless retries to pass some of these levels, which was bad enough, but at about the midway point of the game I completely hit a wall. There was just no way for me to progress, despite trying over and over. Collecting mutagen orbs spread throughout each level allows you to continue. You start the game with 5 lives, and can earn more through bonus levels and by rescuing humans. It takes 10 mutagen orbs to continue once you lose all lives. I started the level where I got stuck with 60 some odd orbs, and went through them all without blinking an eye. That's at least 30 lives wasted on a level where I didn't even rescue one human. Once you run out of orbs, you must frustratingly start completely over from level one. It's just flat out too difficult. I consider myself a fairly accomplished gamer, and have a fondness for the overly challenging games of the 80's and 90's, but I concede to Banzai Rabbit. He beat me. Some truly hardcore players may love this type of challenge, but I highly doubt normal to casual players will have the fortitude to see the game through.

I realize I'm making a pretty big deal about this, but it's honestly the one thing that can keep me from wholeheartedly recommending Banzai Rabbit. I'm not alone, either, as I've only made it halfway through the game and am sitting comfortably atop the Agon leaderboard. Is halfway really the farthest anyone has made it? It's not always necessary to completely beat a game when reviewing it, but you should at least have a pretty broad understanding of what the game offers. I feel like I'm missing out on a big part of Banzai Rabbit that's awaiting me in the second half of the game, not the least of which is the story (I imagine the hero saves the girl, but I'd like to see it).

Luckily, Revolutionary Concepts has been listening to the feedback in the game's forum thread, and will likely address the difficulty in an update. If you feel up to the challenge, Banzai Rabbit really does have a lot to offer, just don't expect to see all of it any time soon.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://www.RevolutionaryConcepts.net Revolutionary Concepts

    Thanks Jared. We deliberated long and hard on difficulty - probably the toughest thing for us devs to pitch just right (some'll inevitably saw too hard, others too easy right :) So this time around we opted to reserve an EASY mode and have some additional tweaks for an update which we'll push out very soon.
    Banzai Awaaaaaaayyyy! :)

    • Jared Nelson

      Great to hear, Easy mode sounds good. I guess I've gone soft in my old age ;) I actually think the difficulties that are in it now are alright for the people that crave that challenge, but for your average joe and jane I think an Easy mode will be a great benefit. Can't really say anything else bad about the game though, it's really well done!

  • HelperMonkey

    Interesting. Β A story-driven Frogger game.
    But the original had a pretty deep plot too. Β I think it was something like "a frog is trying to cross the street."

  • http://micro James Bond

    It's amazing how may rip offs a classic will spawn.

    What percentage of the profits are the creators of Frogger getting?

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Don't know. What percentage of the profits from Frogger do the creators from Frogger? My guess is zero.

    • Padma672

      What a douche thing to say 'James Bond'. Everything new owes something to something old. How do you think things evolve? Have you even played this amazing title? Yeh thought not. Kinda proves that even with evolution there are still some neanderthals kicking around. Now excuse me I need to take my wagon to the blacksmith for it's 2 mile service. I only hope i have enough salt with which to pay.

      • http://micro James Bond

        The douche is the guy who defends the thievery of creative content and tries to justify it by calling it an 'evolution'. Slapping a new skin on something old doesn't change the essential nature of what it is.

        I played it. It's Frogger with a rabbit.

        Stealing is stealing be it money or ideas.

    • Padma672

      Ah i see and yet you say you bought it. Obviously your outrage doesnt stretch to supporting your so called principles. You sir are a clown. Gee that FIFA World Cup seems so much like Pong with a 'skin' better get the lawyers! Frogger with a skin - what a tool. Have you even played Frogger? Good luck with your future crusades I'm off to play.

      • http://micro James Bond

        I was not aware of what a rip off the product was before I bought it.

        Your examples are as retarded as your overly defensive messages.

        Soccer is not a copy of Pong. Soccer is a copy of the real world game. Your being ridiculous and supplying insane comparisons doesn't make my conclusions false, just your own.

      • Jared Nelson

        But your conclusions ARE false. This game is not Frogger with a different skin. Frogger is a highway and a river. You direct your frogs into slots at the top of the screen. The view never changes. It's not in 3D. There aren't powerups. The levels don't change in elevation like they do in Banzai Rabbit.

        The games are different, period.

        Nobody is trying to hide the fact that this game uses the Frogger formula. It says it IN THE TITLE of the review. Should we wipe every platformer from existence because you run, jump and break blocks with your head a la Mario? Should Arkanoid never been allowed to be made because it rips off Breakout? Don't even get me started on match 3's and Bejeweled. Hell, some of those games have probably even used the mechanics of games before them.

        Your argument is just flat out ridiculous. And I'm definitely not convinced you've even played Banzai Rabbit despite what you say. A toddler could tell the difference between this and Frogger.

      • http://www.toucharcade.com Mr T Bailey

        Except soccer (or football, whatever) has been around a hell of a lot longer then pong, but I do get your point sir.

    • Barry

      This is daft- u could also say what percentage of profits are the creators of Wolfenstein getting for every other FPS out there??? Get a grip

  • Erik

    Actually, I partly agree with James Bond (how much do the copright holders of Ian Flemming's works get from you?). If the rabbit would run around a maze eating carrots while being chased by ghostly foxes, it would be a rip off of Pac Man. So where's the difference? The trouble is that it is much harder to come up with an original concept. Could Frogger be considered a genre, like shoot'em ups or platformers? I'm not so sure. On the other hand, I truly love a game like Cogs that takes the concept of a 2d sliding puzzle and builds it out to a 3D extravaganza. In the end it depends how many twists have been bolted onto the original. Just a story mode and fancy graphics imho is not enough. But I think Konami and their licence holders are more than capable to come up for their rights. They don't need 007 for that.

  • Flickta

    I'd say Konami should have sued Atari first (Or vice versa):
    Freeway
    Vs.
    Frogger

    Wikipedia will help you.

    Now it's not a frog trying to get to his lily pad.
    Not a chicken trying to... well... earn points.
    But a badass ninja rabbit trying to save the world and get his dream girl back!

    And it's not only about the story mode and nice graphics. It's about design of the game that is very different from Freeway or Frogger. Pace is different. Levels are not random, but hand crafted with affection - full of mini-puzzles to solve to get through. Use of power ups is crucial for success.
    Play the game and you'll see for yourself - it's a different beast.

  • http://www.metroccolis.com Silent Rocco

    This game is challenging, yes. But too hard? No.
    Started the app, way playing one session story mode (for the first time).
    Reached level 30. Would like to see more challenges like this in the store.

    • Jared Nelson

      Yeah I think I stand a little corrected since mere hours after this review was up my spot on the leaderboards dropped a few places. Obviously some people are doing just fine with it! I still think it's overall too hard for the general populace, though. The forthcoming Easy mode should nice, then they can make an Extreme difficulty for the TOTALBADASSES

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I'm with you Jared.

  • k3836hey

    I made it to the last level, but it's really hard. One more game over and I have to start the whole story over again because i have under 20 green orbs. If any of you were wondering, the last level is in a sewer (green liquid everywhere.) The sinking platforms sink too fast, and the bugs come too fast and there's too many of them. And it's a pretty long level (you have to travel forward for a while.) I wish this level was actually possible for me. Maybe I should just wait to play it again until they update so I don't have to start the whole story over again.

    • http://www.tangiblegames.com Nikita

      Hello k3836hey :)
      We are working on adding checkpoints and other stuff, so my suggestion is to wait for an update and - while you are waiting - play challenge levels to sharpen your skills, and soon this final level will become easy to beat!

      Cheers!
      Nikita from Tangible Games

  • k3836hey

    Just beat the game. Much easier now that there are continues. Only thing is now the game has a big problem. A lot of times, random graphics that are not supposed to be there appear, and sometimes you can't see where you're going/ where you are. A few times the whole level turned gray (well mostly), one time the whole half of the screen turned red, etc. Please fix.

    • Nikita

      Hey, congrats on beating the game!

      You are describing strange behavior we've never encountered during extensive play testing on various devices.

      Maybe you could send us a screenshot with the glitch to nikita[at]tangiblegames/dot/com so we could understand what caused this and fix?

      Cheers!

  • Farley

    Banzai Rabbit developers: Tangible Games (Brilliant russian company)
    Banzai Rabbit QA, Shilling, and Publishing: Revolutionary Concepts.

    Great work on this title. I'm having a hopping good time.

Banzai Rabbit Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4