August 20th, 2012 | By Minh Tri Nguyen
There’s no shortage of endless runner titles on the App Store by any means, and while hits like Doodle Jump and Gravity Hook have gone a long way towards breaking up the left-to-right rut that the genre has carved out for itself, we’ve yet to see anything resembling innovation. What if there were a game that had you going not as far up or to the right as you could, but down? Turns out there’s an app for that: Rope the Frog.
Assuming the role of an angry frog, your task is to rack up as many points as you can by collecting flies along your path. I’m quite sure what the obstacles littering the screen are, though they look like some cross between nicely thatched roofs and floating mud bricks. Either way, it doesn’t make much sense, and neither does the rest of the game.
Aside from the gravity pulling you perpetually downward, your only means of travel is your frog’s tongue, though even with this you have almost no control whatsoever over your movement. Your frog can spit his tongue and attach it to almost any point on the screen which will result in a pendulum-esque motion. There are also several powerups scattered around including score multipliers, extra lives and fixed pivot points which double the length of your frog’s tongue. All-in-all, though, the tongue mechanic doesn’t add much to the game. You can get by just fine letting gravity do its work without ever lifting a finger, and nothing would be lost. The unnecessary nature of the mechanic is compounded by the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to control. In the end, it’s nothing more than a burden.
The session only ends when your three lives are depleted by coming into contact with spikes hidden in flying haystacks. Such hazards are extremely few and far between, and as mentioned, extra lives aren’t uncommon, delaying the end of your game much longer. Being able to survive longer in a game is usually considered a good thing, but Rope the Frog is the exception to the rule. By the time your score reaches four digits, which is an extremely easy feat to achieve if you have enough patience, you’ll likely be bored to death and hoping gravity will pull your amphibian behind onto a spike just so you can stop playing.
There’s also very little variation and almost no surprises after a few rounds of Rope the Frog. The theme and landscape are the same throughout, short segments are repeated once in a while, and it doesn’t take long for you to memorize everything subconsciously. The less-than-attractive visuals and extremely low-volume soundtrack do not help either. You’re urged to keep playing and to strive for higher scores, with new unlocks promised every time you start the game up, but the motivation just isn’t there. Even after playing for hours and reaching several milestones, I’ve yet to see even the slightest change in the gameplay.
The menus are also abysmal, without so much as a single written word. Instead, everything is, for some reason, spoken word. Even more baffling is the fact that the game doesn’t even bother to record your score accurately, instead opting to round it up to the nearest thousand. Sure, you might get higher score this way, but it’s not honest and, more practically, it leads to a lot of people on the leaderboards having the same exact score.
Aside from the fact that it’s free, it’s hard to find any reason to recommend Rope the Frog. The gameplay, layout, visuals and audio are all painful to experience. If you’re a rookie game developer looking for an example of what to avoid, this is your title. If you’re just looking for some fun on the go, you’ve got plenty of better options out there.