Sharknado: The Game turns the campy sharks-in-a-tornado-attacking-New York movies into an endless-runner iOS video game, with your character avoiding road hazards and angry, toothy sharks.
Frogger (the original arcade version) turns your friendly neighborhood swamp into a freeway of terror, with your character avoiding road hazards and angry, toothy alligators.*
Clearly, we had no choice but to prepare a head-to-head review. Sharks: Ready! Frog: Ready!
Round 1: Main character likability
In Sharknado: The Game, you play Fin Shepard, the lead character of both Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One. [Spoiler: He lives through the first one.]
At least, we assume that’s him — it’s hard to tell whether it’s actor Ian Ziering from just the back of his head, body, and signature gray hoodie on an iPad, let alone an iPhone-sized screen. He’s also stubborn and doesn’t always respond to our controls.
In Frogger, your character is an 8-bit amphibian that looks a bit like a squished green bug in motion. He’s not exactly responsive, either. But once you’ve gotten him safely across the road and the river, he busts out that sweet pink smile (with a matching tummy dot).
Advantage: Frogger. Cute smiles trump bland haircuts.
Round 2: Road realism
In Sharknado, the road is a basic cityscape, littered with an oddly perfectly aligned collection of flopping sharks (some of which fall from the sky), construction signs, parked trucks, weapons, and (of course) large gold coins. The graphics are on par for a typical iOS game, if a little cartoony.
In Frogger, the road is a flat expanse of gray, crossed endlessly by a series of small colorful blobs that are likely cars. While it has no sudden air-drops of oversized fish, there are occasionally super-fast sports cars that make appealing zooming noises.
Advantage: Sharknado. Frogger only has things on its road that actually, you know, might be found on roads; but Sharknado has the benefit of buildings and obstacles made from more than a handful of colorful pixels.
Round 3: Transportation
In Frogger, you ride logs, sinking turtles, and alligators* in the river, hopping from place to place until you get to safety.
In Sharknado, you ride a surfboard and then a shark (while wielding a chain saw), and you hop from shark to shark to rise higher in the city.
Advantage: Sharknado. Shark+chain saw is the most epic combination since shark+dinosaur+laser beams. See below. (And just behind cat+shark suit+Roomba+duckling.)
Round 4: Biggest teeth
These are sharks from Sharknado:
This is an alligator* from the Apple II version of Frogger (apparently, no one has recently played the arcade version through level 2, when alligators* appear):
Advantage: Frogger. As the little old lady from those sharkburger commercials said, “Where’s the teeth?!”
Round 5: Replay value
In Frogger, you cross a road and then a river. Then you cross a road with faster cars and a river with faster-moving logs and faster-sinking turtles and the occasional alligator.* Sports cars go even faster. As you advance in levels, more things appear, and they move faster.
In Sharknado, you dodge things on a road and then dodge things on a surfboard and then jump from shark to shark and kill swirling sharks in a tornado. As you advance in levels, more things appear, and they move faster.
Advantage: Tie. We think both are cute for about five minutes.
Round 6: Death scene drama
In Sharknado, if you run into something, the game halts and then shows you a pixelated shot of Fin in a shark’s mouth (no, he’s not really recognizable there, either), asking you whether you want to spend Chum to save him.
In Frogger, if you run into something, your frog turns into a tiny white 8-bit skull and crossbones.
Advantage: Frogger. But only because we really wanted to spend Chum to see the shark actually eat Fin.
Overall verdict: Frogger
It was a close fight. Sharknado: The Game is fun for a super-short while, but so is Frogger. The tiebreaker: The little green guy gives you classic gamer cred.
Sharknado: The Game is available from developer Other Ocean and publisher Majesco Entertainment Company for later-generation iOS devices (it consistently crashed for us on iPad2 and older-gen iPod/iPhone devices) via the iTunes App Store for $3.
Frogger (the arcade version) is available from Konami Digital Entertainment in dusty old coin-operated arcades near you, in a full-sized classic home version for $1,795, as part of the Konami Classics Vol. 1 for Xbox 360 ($15), or replicated on Xbox Live Arcade ($5), AndroidOS ($.99), and iOS (free).
* Yeah, we know they could be crocodiles. They’ve appeared both ways in game-related materials. Think you know which is right? Comments section is right down there, folks.