Even if you’re feeling froggy, we don’t recommend jumping.
On the surface, Purple Cape seems to have a lot of promise, combining physics-style touchscreen gameplay with platforming action. Unfortunately, no matter what color the cape, players will more likely be left just seeing a lot of red by the time they’re finished with it.
As the story goes, a witch is creating a brew in order to make a magical potion to make her beautiful, and as we all know, it’s just not a brew without something from a frog in it. This leads to the kidnapping of a female frog who shall remain nameless, but happens to be the love interest of our hero, a frog who can call upon a fairy’s magic spell to turn him into the eponymous Purple Cape. All well and good, and the music and graphics are well-suited to the premise.
The gameplay, on the other hand, is rather irksome. You control Purple Cape by swiping the touchscreen, and doing so causes him to jump and, if he touches a surface, stick to it. You can also jump repeatedly in the air by continuing to swipe the screen, but only so long as there is energy left in his gauge. Fortunately, this can be replenished by eating certain bugs along the way.
The problem is that the jumping feels rather erratic. You may try for a long jump, and wind up with a short hop, or to have Purple Cape leap one way, and find him going another. This leaves the game feeling playable, but only just — it’s not quite as bad as the idea of just throwing everything against a wall and seeing what sticks, but feels like it’s on the way there as you wind up falling down pits or in other places you’d rather not be.
Certain aspects of the levels aren’t particularly well-done, either. One early instance features an on-screen instruction telling you to “touch to cut” a rope holding a platform, showing a pair of scissors. You’ll try it, but nothing will happen — apparently, you need to have Purple Cape in close range of the rope to be able to cut it with his tongue. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but feels indicative of the overall product in that it could have been handled better.
Another instance of questionable design came in something of a puzzle segment where a detonator needs to be triggered in order to destroy a wall so you can progress. Upon watching several rolling spiked balls fail to cross a rising/lowering platform, one gets the impression they’re to get up there themselves and trigger the explosion, dodging the balls along the way. As it turns out, you just need to wait for these stars and moon to align just right to do the job for you, but in doing so yourself, the camera will cease to focus on Purple Cape, trapping you atop the platform with no way to see what you’re doing, leading to an eventual death.
Both of these types of flaws come together in another portion where you’re trying to jump and activate a trigger to lower platforms. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to somehow over-jump (where was that long jump when we needed it), hitting the trigger and having the platforms fall, pinning you against the thorny brush below with no hope of escape. And this is right at the beginning of the level!
The game boasts such features as 43 levels, along with numerous power-ups and costumes, which can be purchased through the in-game shop. The costumes offer new powers and abilities, but the prices seem ridiculous, and it’s easy to imagine that if you can stand to get that far, you might get through most of the game — perhaps even beat it — before having enough to unlock even one of them (unless you’re willing to pay real money, that is).
Purple Cape features a fun premise and some good ideas with some lovely cartoon-styled graphics; it’s just a shame they weren’t attached to a better game overall. It has promise, but definitely isn’t ready for prime time.