Review: RibbitKing Plus!

If you want to make a game that will get noticed, the best thing you can do is make it original. New ideas are appreciated because gamers don't like to do the same thing over and over again. Bandai obviously tried to make Ribbit King original; it's probably the only golf game without golf balls or golf clubs for that matter. Originality alone isn't enough to make a game enjoyable though, there's also this little thing called gameplay. Originality can help you be surprised but it's gameplay that'll get you sucked into a game, without it you could just as well be watching television. Did Bandai also include gameplay or is Ribbit King another wacky title just for the sake of being wacky? Read on and find out, it couldn't be easier.

 

Frogs and mallets:

The story in Ribbit King is no literary masterpiece. Your planet is running low on Ribbinite; so low in fact, that it's future is in danger. Not everybody in the galaxy is low on Ribbinite though, there's a massive Frolf tournament being held and the grand prize is exactly the amount of Ribbinite your planet needs. You, being a hero and all, are chosen by your planet's leaders to participate in and win this Frolf tournament. Frolf is not a spelling error by the way; it's a sport that's basically golf with frogs instead of balls and mallets instead of golf clubs. You don't get to whack frogs on the head though, you hit a spring device the frog sits on to launch them into the air. To win the tournament you have to play Frolf against a boatload of cartoony characters on courses spread across a handful of different planets. You start on a forest planet and among the other planets are a lava and an ice planet, it seems the level designers weren't posted on the level of originality Ribbit King was aiming for. The story is explained in short but nice looking cutscenes. It's no crime that the cutscenes look nice, but they make the game itself look even worse than it already does, everything looks lo-res and there are quite a few clipping problems.

 

It's all about the points:

Apart from the frogs and the mallets, the scoring system also works quite different than a regular game of golf. Getting your frog in the hole before your opponent does is not all it takes; you have to score more points than he does. The courses are filled with opportunities to score points; the hole is only one of them. You can whack your frog into a lake for instance, causing him to start swimming until he reaches land again. Not only can he pick up point bubbles along the way, just swimming alone earns him points. The first player to get his frog to jump into the hole earns 1000 points (1500 if it's in the first turn), after that the points for the hole decrease every turn, so the best way to play a match of Frolf is to earn as many points as you can, then sink your frog into the hole before your opponent does. This is where the problems arise though, since the best way to score points is making combos. Like in most games a combo is a couple of moves chained together, unlike in most games though you almost have no control at all over your combo. All you can do is send your frog to a place where you hope something will happen to it that'll send him to another piece of the course that triggers an event. Apart from landing the first part of a combo, scoring big points is mostly a matter of luck. Getting a massive combo while you weren't trying anything happens all the time, getting no points at all while you were aiming for a nice combo is just as common, in both cases you won't feel like you deserve what you get.

 

Waiting for each other's frogs:

Ribbit King also has a multiplayer mode where you can take on up to three friends in a match of Frolf. The randomness of the single player mode is joined by a new problem in this mode; you'll be waiting for your turn most of the time. This is true for every turnbased multiplayer game, but Ribbit King has filled its courses to the brim with places to earn points, so players tend to look around a lot before deciding where to send their frogs to. The camera often has problems showing your trajectory if it goes near any objects in the course, which adds even more to the time it takes to complete your turn. Then there's the item system, you can use a number of different items to affect the condition of your frog, making him jump farther, enabling him to swim in lava, that sort of stuff. By going into the item screen you reset your aiming cursor to its default position though, so if you decide to use an item after you've carefully aimed your frog at a point bubble in a lava lake, you have to aim all over again once you've returned from the item screen. All these frustrations make the game difficult to enjoy if you're playing with a lot of people, the random outcome of your turns makes it even worse.

Final Say:

So we've got a pretty original concept, executed in a completely uninspired and unoriginal way. There's no room for players to grow, you can't really get better in a game if you have as good as no control over how many points you score in a turn. Small kids could enjoy the wacky characters with their wacky voices but they too will get frustrated by the lack of control they have. The only reason you could have to want this game is that you're collecting every game that's released on the GameCube, and even then you should think twice before buying it.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Far too random to enjoy.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability3
  • Visuals3
  • Audio2
  • Lifespan3
Final Score

5

Pros

It's a new idea.

Cons

Random gameplay.
Bad camerawork.
Too much waiting in multiplayer.


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