Ribbit King (known in Japan as “Kero Kero King DX”), developed by Bandai and Jams Works in 2003 (and released overseas in 2004) and with character designs and supervision by Yosuke Kihara, is a cute, quirky and original spin on the classic game of golf, and the GameCube game is the successor to the obscure Japan-only original, Kero Kero King, released for Playstation in 2000. It features a young construction worker and his friend, Scooter and Picwick respectively, who are sent on a mission across the galaxy to obtain more “Super Ribbinite”, a fuel source which their planet of Hippitron needs to survive. The only way to obtain it however is to challenge people across the galaxy in a game of “Frolf” and complete the twenty holes presented, winning the “Frolf Championship”. Frolf is kinda like Golf, but you send frogs around instead of balls by whacking catapults. While not really advertised well, a PS2 update was later released which also goes by the name of Ribbit King overseas (but is actually “Kero Kero King Super DX” in Japan) which adds a few extra gameplay features and an extra Frog type. Each Ribbit King game comes with a “Plus” disc which houses special movies that you unlock during the main game.
Frolf has one distinct advantage over regular golf; frogs are living entities, so you can do more with them. Besides simply getting them from place to place and adhering to the core rules of golf, they have stamina which can be replenished by using items or eating flies, can swim across bodies of water rather than sink, and have a bit of a mind of their own. However, this in and of itself wouldn’t be enough to seperate it from the large plethora of golf titles out there, so the devs also added an unconventional point system and “gimmicks”. Points are earned like normal golf by simply getting your ball in the hole before the opposition (where taking longer lowers your score accordingly), but are also earned by a wide variety of actions that you take on the field or by the areas or obstacles you come in contact with.
With a premise like intergalactic golf, you can expect that the locales and characters are as strange as the universe itself, and you can also expect strange course designs and all kinds of tricks to come into play. Using gimmicks like spider webs for additional bounce, carefully dodging elephants, avoiding being eaten by snakes, landing on big question marks, and jumping on Jumpolines are just some of the things you can expect to do. Activating multiple gimmicks can also net you combo points while getting hurt can reduce your score and weaken your frog, and you can also earn surprise points at the end of a game by doing certain things, so simply getting to the exit as soon as you can isn’t always the best strategy. Besides buying various items from shops and defeated opponents with the points you earn, you can buy frog eggs which, when matured, can be used to give you an added edge.
The audio/visuals are, while not particularly good, quite serviceable and appropriate with a few neat graphical effects here and there. While the game is aimed at a young demographic, if the game is approached with an open mind, it’s addicting and suitable for all ages. Ribbit King is a fun game that, while not a masterpiece within the genre, is worth the price of admission. This is a video of the game in action. Enjoy.
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