The Frogger High Score

In 1998, the Frogger episode aired on the popular Seinfeld hit series during the final season – here’s a brief highlight reel of the show. The shows seemed to be about nothing and yet everything was fair game. Any subject was good for a few laughs. In this memorable episode, the plot line featured George still with the historical high score on the old Frogger video machine at Mario’s (the local pizza parlor hangout soon to be closed). He has had over 860,000 points since High School. This was a big moment for him and he must do something to preserve the game for posterity when the old stomping ground becomes defunct. Maybe it is a symbol of some kind of past success amid present failure. Munching his last slice of pizza in Mario’s with the gang, he thinks about buying it and taking it home, but it can’t be unplugged or it will shut down. What to do? He has been preparing for this moment his entire life, he says.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Kramer to the rescue. He knows a man named “Slippery Pete” who can help coordinate the movement of the Frogger machine from its long-time home to its final resting place. He suggests stealing a battery. Shortly thereafter, George finds the man playing the game on battery power with only three minutes remaining – something that definitely wouldn’t have happened if they had decided to use a small generator like this rather than some kind of battery powered system. Tension. Suspense. The game’s memory must be remain intact or all is lost.

Another power source must be found. There it is across the street at the pharmacy, and the machine must be transported at all costs. Traffic is dense and the scene cleverly mimics the arcade game itself with the zany cartoon frogs battling vehicles in the road. The curb is a stumbling block for George, however, who insists on doing the job alone; and all seems futile. It turns out to be true when a Freightliner smashes the cabinet into bits and pieces as Jerry mutters, “game over.” Anguish. It is a comedy of errors and as funny as any vaudeville skit. Jason Alexander allegedly performed his own stunts and had to nimbly jump out of the way of the approaching truck and then the airborne wreckage. He said it was a close call. It all adds to the legend in retrospect.

The Frogger was an actual arcade game inaugurated in 1981 in which players directed the amphibians to safety and their eventual lily pad homes. It is still played today and now has nostalgia value. It is simple, like many of the games during the golden age. The frogs only had to navigate rivers, roads, and assorted hazards. A joystick manipulated the moves. Simple was also George’s solution. But alas, it didn’t work. Of note is the useful battery/generator that was supposed to keep the Frogger game alive. The moral is clear. Have one handy in case the power goes out during an earth-moving game. Carry it to an arcade, your friends’ homes, or any possible venue. You won’t lose your record wins like George. A sorry ending for a well-intentioned plan.