Freeway
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6  |  Why The Chicken(s) Crossed The Road...
Darryl B. , 1/25/2006 10:04:19 PM
I'll tell ya, one of the many problems of working in the video game industry is when you and/or your team of programmers spent months working on a game, which then a very similar product was released first (before your company could release yours) that you had no knowledge of, which a lot of people would think that you copied that idea.

Hence the case with Freeway, which looks very similar in concept to the lower part of the arcade game Frogger's screen, which involved you trying to maneuver your frog across several lanes of a busy street without getting squashed, which Freeway consisted of a player having to move their CHICKEN across a busy, uh, freeway. Yet programmer David Crane has sworn up and down in interviews ever since that as he was working on Freeway, he had no knowledge of the Sega arcade product, as they were supposedly worked on at the same time.

Well, that sucks.

Both turned out to be classic games, though, to say the least: Frogger was just plain classic, whereas Freeway was classic AND funny with it's gameplay. (Anything involving chickens is automatically going to be funny, no?)

In this game, the entire screen is made up as an eight lane freeway, rather than half of the screen being a roadway, whereas the other half of the screen that you had to guide your frog across in Frogger was a pond. You must move your chicken up and down (no sideways movement is allowed, unlike in Frogger though) and try to reach the top as many times as you can before time runs out. (Dunno why this is, unless the chicken wanted to peck David Crane's a** to death or something.)

Games one through four range from the easiest to the busiest freeways, which you must look for patterns in traffic in order to make your way up. Get hit by a car, and your chicken will make a funny sound and either be knocked down the screen a little, or he'll (she'll?) reappear at the very bottom if a player's difficulty is set on A.

Then, games five through eight are the same as games one through four, but traffic will speed up and slow down at random. Once you get used to how the traffic patterns work, these last four games are the best, since you don't know what will happen.

The sound effects are good, the control perfect (can't go too wrong with just moving up and down), and the graphics were near incredible for back then, especially when you consider there is NO infamous 2600 flicker to be seen anywhere! Even though a good port, even your frog in the 2600 version of Frogger dimmed out as he moved around, but that doesn't happen with anything here.

This game is hard to rank nowadays, though, as back in the day, it deserved probably an 8 or a 9 (plus it sold over a million copies), and it's only about half as good with only one player. Also, probably most people would only give it a few games of a chance nowadays as well before moving onto another game within a few minutes, as even "switching sides" probably won't keep most peoples' interest for long, since the player on the left has a disadvantage, since they're closer to the traffic.

Still, this was a pretty different offering for back then (even though it somewhat resembled Frogger), especially since it was originally construed as to being Bloody Human Freeway, with the chickens being replaced by humans! That's right, it was much more disgusting in concept, rather than these indestructible chickens that made it into the game we all know now.

Oh, and I still don't believe Crane in that Activision just *happened* to be working on the exact same concept as Frogger at the exact same time. Sorry, Dave, but you were still God back then! 6/10

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