The game starts with three, five, or seven frogs, depending on the settings used by the operator.
The player guides a frog which starts at the bottom of the screen to its home at the top of the screen.
The lower half of the screen contains a road with motor vehicles, which may include cars, trucks, buses, dune buggies, bulldozers, vans, taxis, bicyclists, and motorcycles, speeding along it horizontally.
The upper half of the screen consists of a river with logs, alligators, and turtles, all moving horizontally across the screen.
The very top of the screen contains five "frog homes" which are the destinations for each frog.
Every level is timed (30 seconds); the player must finish the level before the time expires.
By jumping on swiftly moving logs and the backs of turtles and alligators, the player can guide the frog safely to one of the empty lily pads.
The game player must avoid obstacles but may catch bugs or escort a lady frog for bonuses.
When all five frogs are directed home, the game progresses to the next level, with increased difficulty.
Frogger has earned the ominous distinction of being 'the arcade game with the most ways to die'".