Frog Pond

By Scott Stilphen

 

Frog Pond is a games that Atari never officially released to the public.  Prototypes (and possibly copies) have been available for some time now.  Best Electronics had it for $12 at one time.  2 different versions exist with this - one with a "rainbow" title screen, and one with a detailed graphics screen (most likely the final version).


Early prototype version


Later prototype version

The game features nice, clean graphics, with 1 or 2 frogs on a lily pad.  Each frog even has its own realistic "ribbet" sound.  The object is to leap and catch as many insects as you can with your frog's tongue.  Pressing the fire button shoots your frog's tongue out.  The Difficulty switches affect the length of your tongue (a little longer when set to B).  There are four game variations: 1 and 3 are one-player versions; 2 and 4 are two-player versions.  You are allowed so many misses; an insect will fly away if you fail to get it after a certain time limit.  Games 3 and 4 allow more misses, but less time to get the insects.  There are five types of insects.  Since the game has no manual, I created names for each type:



Player 1 = yellow frog
Player 2 = black frog
Game 1: 1 player, 6 misses
Game 2: 2 players, 4 misses
Game 3: 1 player, 9 misses
Game 4: 2 players, 6 misses

For being an unreleased game, there was certainly enough advanced press about it.  A playable demo was shown at the Summer 1982 CES show in Chicago, and the game was actually reviewed in the December 1982 issue of Videogaming Illustrated (page 27)!  It describes 8 different insects, coming in waves of 30.  Some mentioned are dragonflies and beetles (game starts with these), gnats (must be hit twice), and wasps (can stun you).  Game ends when all the bugs have been caught or have fled.  The review also included a screenshot that looks nearly-identical to the Summer 1982 CES demo, except the score counters for both players are at the very top of the screen, and appear in a dark-blue band. 

Overall, it's a great game for kids, but still a little challenging when trying to get the bigger insects. The programming seems complete and has an attract mode after a few minutes of inactivity. It's a shame Atari never released it, as it would have been a nice addition to their software library.


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