SuperRope, and that’s all one word this time, is a “free” climbing and jumping game for the iPhone. I’ll get to the “free” part later in the review. For now, I’m going to glide past the same issue I had with Stack King’s title, although why SuperRope couldn’t have borrowed Stack King’s unnecessary space is beyond me, and get right into my overall thought on the game. I bloody love SuperRope, and am quite happy to pick it up for a few minutes, enjoy all the bright colours and frantic gameplay, and then put it down again for a little while.
There is just one teensy, tiny, iddy biddy problem with SuperRope though: the Funky Store. You see, as you play the game, one of the many collectible items you’ll come across are little green pustules known as Funky Stars. You can collect these as you swing and jump from rope to rope, as well as gathering coins, like a crazed accountant doing an abstract Tarzan impression. Three coins equates to one Funky Star, which is the currency used for shopping for new levels, power-up upgrades and new playable characters. And thus is the true nature of this seemingly “free”, charming little game.
Now, I’m not going to moan about the developer, Craneballs Studios, for trying to make a bit of money. Not at all. My issue is that, with the sheer amount of Funky Stars needed to unlock some of the items, people who want to enjoy the better levels and power-ups the game has to offer have two options; play the game for dozens of hours, earning enough Funky Stars in the game itself to afford new levels and extras, or go to the Funky Store to buy Funky Stars. For example, you could buy 1000 Funky Stars for just 99p/99¢, which would buy you a new character to jump and climb ropes with, a new level of the five to choose from, or a couple of basic power-up upgrades. Alternatively, for a mere $34.99 (pocket change, really…), you could buy 110,000 Funky Stars, which is just, barely, enough to afford all of the in game content, at the moment. What?! Who in their right mind would pay nearly the price of a console game for unlockables? Funky Stars don’t exactly pour into your account as you play, so it might take at least twenty minutes of constant playing to get 1000 Funky Stars, to earn some of the basic power ups, but some of the later ones will set you back up to 8000 of the little blighters.
The different levels, although well painted and designed, bright and colourfu,l and fun to look at, are all similar enough that they needn’t have been made purchasable updates. The five different characters to play with only look different, and do not play any differently from one to the next. You start off with Pigger, the pig, but you can unlock Hedge, the hedgehog, Mousero the mouse, Birdoo the bird, who is just different enough from Birdo for Nintendo not to get in a huff, and finally Mr. Sausage, the less said about him the better. It’s nice to see the originality in character naming still exists in gaming today… I would have liked to have seen each character have a different special ability, or have some different gameplay trait about them, but of the 25 combinations of characters and levels to play through, no one of them feels or plays differently to one another.
The power-ups themselves are pretty cool, if a little predictable. As you climb vertically in the game, swinging from vine to vine by either tapping one side of the iPhone or the other, or swiping your thumb across the screen to switch from one vine to the next, some power ups will fall into your path, and others you will have to make leaps of faith for. If you leap and wind up with no new vine to latch on to, it’s game over and you will need to start again. To assist you along the way though are rocket packs, for zooming through levels for increased height, crash helmets, for deflecting obstacles and enemies that stand in your path, and magnets, which attract coins to you as you fly up the level, as well as a couple of other fun features. Obstacles, such as parrots, octopi and robots (it’s not often those three words are used in the same sentence) sit atop vines to get in your way. If you’re in the rocket or wearing your crash helmet, you can swing right through them without worry. It’s a shame they don’t move or chase you around the level, although with all the falling anvils and pianos the harder difficulties throw at you, it’s probably for the best.
So the gameplay is fun, if a little repetitive after a while, but that’s purely based on your level of skill. If you are good at the game, on the same run-through you may recognise areas of the game with set patterns of coins and obstacles and pathways, but there are always different combinations of power-ups (and, indeed, missed power ups) to keep the variety going. It’s just a shame that to add more depth to the proceedings, ie getting different power-ups and levels and characters, you have to play through the game so many times to earn those rotten Funky Stars just to pay for it all with real hard earned cash. It’s like being given a box of Quality Street, and told you can only begin eating the next flavour of sweet once you have devoured all the coconut dreams. And sure, once you have coconut dreams and caramel barrels at your behest, you’ve got a good deal going, but to eat all of them for hours on end just to earn yourself some strawberry creams is just going to cause mountainous piles of vomit to appear in your general vicinity.
All in all, if you are happy to binge yourself silly on this game to increase the replayability of it all, then feel free to go nuts with SuperRope. But, if like me, you don’t have the time to put in such work to unlock all the nifty add-ons the game has tucked away from you, then you might find it a bit limited. There are a few select power-ups I am striving to buy, namely the one that doubles the worth of the Funky Stars you collect, as well as the uber magnet power-ups, and maybe the rest of the levels and characters as they’re cheap, but once that’s done I will probably just play it when I find myself with a bit of free time. If you’re an RPG fan and are happy to put a bit of grinding time into a game, then this will hit your sweet spot quite nicely. Failing that, those of you with disposable income and a general lack of intelligence can just buy all the things from the Funky Store all at once. If you are one of those people, I hope you choke of a hazelnut cluster, for the sake of humanity.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: iOS Release Date: 11/08/2011
Disclosure: Deputy editor Jon Brown acquired a copy of SuperRope and reviewed it on an iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.