Frogun Encore review for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PC
Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Top Hat Studios
Developer: Molegato
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No

Games that rely heavily on nostalgia walk a fine line. Done the right way, they evoke games from yesteryear while also adding their own spin; done poorly, and they make you wish you were playing those other games instead.

Frogun Encore, unfortunately, falls into this latter category. In fact, it adds a whole other level to the “wish you were playing something else instead” feeling: it also made me wish I was playing other (better) modern nostalgia-heavy games too.

It’s not that Frogun Encore is lacking in ideas, mind you. It’s built around a good premise: your character has a frog that’s a gun – hence, Frogun – that not only helps her attack enemies, it also helps her grab coins (and there are a lot of coins to grab) and jump across great distances.

On top of that, it expertly copies the look and feel of early 3D platformers. Squint a little bit, and it’d be easy to imagine this exact game had come out before – and by that, I mean on PS1 or N64, not just the first Frogun game that came out in 2022. Everything about it, from the blocky characters to the slightly muted colours to the text on the screen, is very much drawn from the mid-’90s.

The problem is the execution. Simply put, this is a 3D platformer where the platforming isn’t all that fun. Part of the problem is the fixed camera, which isn’t a huge issue the vast majority of the time – but when it is, you notice it. Frogun Encore is a game where you have to go in all directions, and where you’re clearly expected to explore, except the camera makes it so that you can’t always see where you’re going.

Add on to that the problem that the game’s controls are pretty clunky. Not only is jumping from ledge to ledge a pain because the jumps feel floaty and inconsistent, you also have to deal with the fact that the core mechanic – pointing your frog at a target, whether it’s an enemy, a collectible, or your next ledge – is extremely finicky. It works a lot of the time except when it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t you’re left cursing the people who thought it would be a good idea. It can be extremely frustrating to jump towards something, ready to fire your frog, and then realize that your target was slightly offline because you misjudged thanks to that annoying camera.

And, to round it all out, there’s the fact that there are other games that evoke the same era but do it a lot better. Lunistice is the obvious choice, but even games like Super Kiwi 64 or Penny’s Big Breakaway find ways to remind you of ‘90s 3D platformers that don’t feel quite so derivative or frustrating.

And that’s what it’s hard to recommend Frogun Encore: it’s competing with modern games and classic ones alike, and it doesn’t match up with any of them. It’s a perfectly serviceable retro-tinged 3D platformer, but we live at a time when there are lots and lots of those, and enough of them do it better that you’re probably better off playing them instead.

Top Hat Studios provided us with a Frogun Encore PC code for review purposes.

Score: 6