Saturday, August 30, 2014

Frogger lottery ticket

My partner knows that I'm the guy with a totally tragical video game hang-up, so she sees this lottery ticket under the counter at the corner store and picks it up for me for laughs. (I can't shut it off. At the garage sale this morning: "Oh, look, those stuffies are of Club Penguin characters! It's basically Warcraft for kids, run out of Kelowna and owned by Disney.") I never gambled (if you know you have obsessive tendencies to your personality, it seems a foolish line to willingly cross), but there is admittedly some grey area between gambling and gaming. (Just take out the "bl".) Anyhow, I could have just scratched this up right away, but instead I thought -- no, let's use this an an instructional opportunity and blog through it for my readers! So I'm off to Blogger to talk about Frogger!
OK, so far, so good. Wait, let's read the instructions on the back:

Blah, blah, blah. Hey, where's any mention of the owner of the Frogger character, Konami? Oh well, let's proceed:
OK, so far, so good.  Frog 1 is headed in the right direction!

A bonus!  Also, a straightforward navigational gambit.  It's curious how the vehicles serve more as walls than opponents in this static representation of the game screen.

All right, we've gotten the hard part out of the way and made it to the shore!  Just a few more hops to freedom...

Not the optimal route to get there, but who am I to complain?

The plane has crashed into the goddamn mountain!  It's like Frog 1 got disoriented and forgot which direction the goal was in.  I suppose once he had foolishly hopped to the end of the log, there was just nowhere else to go.  In the real game, of course, you would just kill time on the log waiting for one to pass going the other direction, but in this weird static version, you need a complete and continuous path to the goal in that moment frozen in time.  Alas!  On to Frog 2, may he have better luck!

OK, so far so good.  I wonder if it is even possible to have a different starting direction, like Frog 2 might break out of the border and wrap around the edges like Pac-Man's tunnel.  No: Pac-Man is Namco, and Frogger is Konami.  Don't be silly!

Another bonus!  This means that I have found three $3 bonuses, which if I have interpreted the rules correctly means that I could return to the store and now redeem this ticket for its initial price, making all this outtasight fun absolutely free!  And further prizes may still await, I'm only halfway through my play session!

Well.  Frog 2, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed in you.  It's like you were so shocked by the appearance of the mega-bonus portrait, conspicuously revealing itself as if to tauntingly say "see, there is some genuine potential to pull down some cash in this totally non-deterministic game", that you momentarily forgot where you were and walked off edge.  (This is a legitimate place to again question why the amphibious frog is so susceptible to death when entering the water.  Frogs live in water!  They require it!  This isn't Toadder!)  Oh well.  On to Frog 3.

Frog 3's journey has been somewhat streamlined, as it has few variances from what we have seen before.  Specifically: where have I seen this situation before?  It's like the big bonuses are strategically situated deliberately before deathtraps!  Well, maybe this time the water won't kill me...

A bit of wishful thinking on my part, apparently.  And so close to the goal!  Maybe the Frogger portraits only come with directions indicating horizontal movement, and you just have to hope that when they come, it's in a place where your frog has a future, rather than into a surefire death on the very next space.

What have we learned?  Supposing I bother to go back and redeem the ticket, this playthrough had zero overall cost (save the time to acquire and redeem the ticket), which beats an actual playthrough of Frogger in an arcade, which would cost at least 25 cents.  Probably my enjoyment of the ticket lasted longer than it would have taken me to burn through 3 lives in arcade Frogger as well (here it looks like you're guaranteed to get past the traffic), though much of that was time spent scanning the ticket repeatedly and rotating and cropping the photos.  In arcade Frogger you are guaranteed to never have a cost per play of under 25 cents, while this one turned out to pay for itself and actually has a small chance of redeeming actual money.  The ground rules are the same in both cases, however -- in the end, the rules always favour the house.

OK, time for some bonus content: an actual print ad (I know, shocking and scandalous!) for the Atari 2600 conversion of Frogger:


Frogger has just jumped out of the arcades and into your home. Sights, sounds, and all. Do you have the skill to get him to his home? Frogger's first challenge is to cross a highway where reckless hot rods hurtle by, and huge trucks go thundering in his path. Every safe jump in this maze of motor and metal is a crucial step home. Beyond is the raging river where the safety of a slippery log or diving turtle is all Frogger can count on to stay afloat. Frogger's last leap to his lily pad home must be perfect, or it's back to the road to try again. Good luck, Frogger's counting on you.

"This maze of motor and metal" is a breath of poetry in an unexpected place, like Tennessee Williams' apocryphal poems written on shoe boxes. I suppose if the rivers are dangerous rapids it accounts for its lethal effects on Frogger (but why not the turtles, then? Protected by their shells?) Then there's the usual bewildering small print -- Konami made the arcade game, but Sega, as Sega/Gremlin, licensed it to virtually everywhere outside the arcade. Just to clear that up. No digressions this time! See you later!