In a nutshell, you play an unlikely young carpenter
who just so happens to be the only carpenter as such on his planet and uses this skill to wield a hammer to play an interplanetary tournament involving the whimsical sport of Frolf—alongside a sentient picnic basket
—as his planet faces danger due to a falling power supply. Yeah
, it's that sort of game
The brainchild of Tokyo-based character artist and illustrator Yosuke Kihara (born 1958), Ribbit King
(alternatively spelled RibbitKing
) is an obscure 2003 sports video game developed by JamsWorks and published by Bandai. Initially released on 11 July 2003 in Japan for the Nintendo GameCube
(titled Kero Kero King DX
), a slightly expanded PlayStation 2
version followed a few months later on 18 December 2003 (titled Kero Kero King Super DX
). In 2004, under the international title of Ribbit King
, the game was released overseas, starting with North America on 8 and 15 June 2004 for the GCN and PS2, respectively, before reaching the PAL region on 3 September 2004 for both platforms.
The game involves the sport of golf stripped to its bare minimum, but with a twist; the balls are now frogs sitting atop a catapult that are launched with the strike of a hammer—which replace golf clubs—in a sport now called Frolf (that capital F is mandatory
), or Kerof in the Japanese version. While getting your frog in the water-hole in one turn garners you a 1,500-point 'Frog-in-One', there are other things to watch out for, and it's not just the hazards in traditional golf such as bunkers or wind speed/direction (which is optional); there are also other obstacles and hazards that are vital for a higher overall score, such as flies, point bubbles, whirlpools, swimming in water, items scattered across the course, etc., and those that aren't
so vital, such as going off-course or hitting a solid object such as a tree. So don't be tempted for a second to think it is as simple as as 'get your frog into the hole first and Bob's your uncle'. The character designs, while rather simplistic, are distinct in a way that you can tell them apart from each other. Each character has their own frog modelled after themselves (with the exception of the protagonist, who has a generic green frog).
In the story mode, you are Scooter
, a lowly young carpenter and resident of planet Hippitron. He is summoned by his king (who is not the titular Ribbit King
, mind you) who wants to tell him that there is a problem. The king however, not being the most competent of his type around, can't seem to tell him without breaking down and bawling, so one of his servants calmly tell young Scooter the bad news; their supply of Super Ribbinite, the planet's life-blood, is "dropping faster than a lead balloon". In order to get it back up to condition, Scooter, along with his trusty sentient picnic wicker-basket
, travels the galaxy across five planets—Ribbetopia, Lavatron, Techtron, Frosticle and Hypnotron—on a mission to play the Frolf Tournament to become the Frolf Champion, or Ribbit King
, win the Super Ribbinite and return back home. Along the way, he and Picwick meet Sluggy, the manager and 'referee', who mans the Frolf Utility Vehicle (or F.U.V. for short). After this storyline is completed, there is a second one to be played when you reload your game data after the credits have rolled, though it's best if we leave that one for you to find out for yourself.
If you're not bothered about the story (which is single-player-only), you can play the Vs. mode which ranges from 1–4 players, though you have to play through the story mode in order to have a full set of characters.
While this game is a very obvious example of a WJT
, how good
it actually is depends on the person
; critical reaction generally passes it off as mediocre
, while consumers view it in a more positive light, either doing so because of its cheesiness
or genuinely finding it a pretty good, if not underrated title.
One notable feature of the game is its inclusion of a free bonus disc: Ribbit King Plus!
It contains 27 short computer-generated animations, running under a minute in length, of the characters from the game and a montage of the story mode cutscenes set to the title theme that are unlocked throughout the course of the game. These were originally broadcast on the TV Tokyo
children's early-morning weekday variety show Oha Suta: The Super Kids' Station
over a period of six weeks from 16 June–25 July 2003 to promote the game in the lead-up and aftermath of the game's original JP GCN release and were included on a bonus DVD with the JP PS2 release.
While this rather odd send-up of pretty much any and/or every golf video game is a rather unique concept to everyone else in the world, to Japanese gamers this is nothing new; Ribbit King
is the successor to—and not
a port of, contrary to some sources—Kihara's earlier and even more obscure Japan-only PlayStation
game Kero Kero King
, published by Media Factory and released on 2 November 2000. This game, while very similar to the aforementioned game gameplay-wise, has a different story and characters from its successor (though some of them look quite similar to characters from the later game, presumably due to Kihara's artstyle). This game also supported the PocketStation, though what its purpose was is currently unknown in the Western world at this point due to the game's obscurity and aforementioned Japan-only release.
These games includes examples of:
open/close all folders
Kero Kero King (2000)
Ribbit King (2003)
- An Interior Designer Is You: The JP PS2 version of the game lets you decorate the interior of the F.U.V.
- Battle Intro: Parodied in Pan-Pan's first introductory cutscene.
- Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: A shining example. Seriously, where else (apart from Kero Kero King) can you play a send-up of golf in which the clubs are replaced with hammers and the balls with frogs on catapults?
- Blush Sticker: Scooter has permanent solid pink blushes on his face, as does Princess Tippi on her alternate costume.
- Bonus Material: The Ribbit King Plus! bonus disc, which allows you to watch the movie clips that you unlocked in the story mode.
- A Boy and His X: A boy and his basket.
- Camp Straight: Sluggy talks in a ridiculously camp Paul Lynde-esque manner, with the appropriate campy effeminate mannerisms to boot, and yet in one of the Plus! videos, it is revealed he is married with a wife and two children.
- Catchphrase: "I've got you covered!" — Picwick.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Big 10 Bang received from Pappy, Pepe, and Papoo is later used to enlarge the tiny Super Ribbinite crystal that Scooter won.
- The 'Hints & Clues' that Sparky and Whoosh offer you for 100,000 credits when you beat them the second time? Reload the game after you've 'beaten' it and see for yourself.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Sir Waddlelot. He's a robotic penguin, but still.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Ahem, Princess Tippi whose real name is Anastasia.
- Expressive Ears: Scooter (and presumably the rest of the Hippitronians) has these (or whatever they are). They flap about when he's happy or excited and droop when he's not so happy (for instance, losing a Frolf match), and also seem to have Jiggle Physics applied to them (as can be seen by running around in the F.U.V.).
- Excited Show Title!: Ribbit King Plus!
- Some of the clips have it as well, such as "Frolf Beach Party!", "Frog Work-Out!", "Frog Revolution!" and "Frolf Hip-Hop!".
- Extended Gameplay: There is a different storyline playable after you've finished the first one, indicated by a rather vague To Be Continued caption at the end of the first storyline after the credits.
- Frogs and Toads: Well, what did you expect from a game titled Ribbit King?
- Gag Lips: Sluggy has large blue lips.
- Guide Dang It: There are a few bits in the game that remain undiscovered due to there being very few to no complete guides of the game around.
- He Was Right There All Along: The final opponent of the first storyline, Gumbah-Goo, spends most of the game hiding in plain sight on the F.U.V.
- Hub Level: The F.U.V., essentially.
- Idle Animation: If you leave Scooter standing around in the F.U.V. for long enough, he will doze off.
- Improbable Age: Scooter appears to be under the age of 13, and yet it's stated in the game that he is a carpenter.
- Keet: Picwick.
- Kid Hero: Scooter.
- Lettered Sequel: The Japanese title for this game is Kero Kero King DX/Super DX, depending on the version.
- Limited Animation: Manages to pull this off in three dimensions in the story mode cutscenes, further driven home by the fact that most of the characters have 2D faces. The Plus! videos, in comparison—while still not too brilliant—are much more fluent due to being animated by a different company.
- Long Song, Short Scene: The title theme plays for about 1:40 before looping again. You're unlikely to be spending more than ten seconds on the title screen, and even if you do leave it playing without pressing a button, unless you've pressed the START button beforehand, it will just cut to the Attract Mode after about 30 seconds.
- No Indoor Voice: Picwick is rather... loud.
- The Noseless: Pretty much every character is this, with a few exceptions (the king and Pan-Pan being examples).
- Now Which One Was That Voice?: None of the English VAs were credited for their roles, and due to the game not being well-known, it's not very easy to come by a definite cast list, though Scooter's voice is quite easily recognisable if you're familiar with it.
- Oh Crap: Scooter gives out an utterly horrified expression when he realises he has broken off Sir Waddlelot's wind-up key.
- Pandaing To The Audience: Probably the reason Pan-Pan exists.
- Powerpuff Girl Hands: Most of the characters have this.
- Sudden Anatomy: Which is then subverted when Scooter turns off a radio during a band rehearsal in one of the Plus! videos, showing a visible index finger.
- Punny Name: Picwick. Apart from a possible reference to The Pickwick Papers, he's a picnic basket made from wicker. Though see Spell My Name with an S below for what happens when people don't get this.
- The Quiet One: Sparky talks a grand total of one line in the actual game. He talks a bit more in the Plus! videos, however.
- Quizzical Tilt: Scooter does this quite often.
- Recursive Canon: This game seems to exist within its own universe, as evidenced by one of the Plus! videos.
- Sir Verb-A-Lot: Sir Waddlelot.
- The Smurfette Principle: Princess Tippi is the sole female playable character in the game.
- Speech Impediment: Sluggy has a noticeable lisp in the English dub, probably to play up the camp stereotype with the character.
- Spell My Name with an S: It's Picwick, not Pickwick! The name is supposed to be a pun.
- Also, it's Ribbetopia, not Ribbitopia.
- Suddenly Voiced: The frogs in the Plus! videos.
- Title Scream: "RIBBIT KING PLUS! YEAH!"
- The Unintelligible: Kosmo.
- Updated Re-release: Following the game's original Japanese GCN release in July 2003 was a slightly modified PS2 version in December 2003. Their overseas counterparts, on the other hand, are mostly the same as each other.
- Widget Series: This game and its predecessor takes the concept of a Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game to a whole new level.
- Word Salad Title: Yeah.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Scooter says this once he sees how tiny the Super Ribbinite crystal he travelled half the galaxy for is. Followed shortly by a big "Oh, no!" that echoes through space.