“He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease.” When George Leybourne penned those lyrics in 1868 to the famous song The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, he wasn't talking about this little stick dude swinging across a cartoon landscape of skyscrapers, but he could have been! The generic superhero character in the iPhone game Rope ‘n' Fly not only has the daring-do of a trapeze artist, but he also has the unique skill of throwing ropes that ‘stick' to the walls of tall buildings as he swings by like Spiderman. If that sounds like fun to you, then you ought to give this simple, yet very addicting game a whirl.
First of all, let me warn you. There is not much depth to Rope ‘n' Fly. What you see in the screenshots is what you get. In fact, I wholeheartedly recommend downloading the free version of this game to see if you like it. There are a few more bells and whistles in the paid version, but playing the free version will definitely let you know if this game is worth your hard-earned dollar. To compare this game to other iPhone games that have depth and design like Rolando is sort of like comparing an afternoon snack to a full course meal. Sometimes you want a snack. Sometimes you want the meal. But you shouldn't confuse the two. Eating the snack when you want the meal will leave you unsatisfied. In this way, I would compare Rope ‘n' Fly to a Web (or Flash) game rather than a full-scale downloadable PC or Mac game. Much like a Web game, Rope ‘n' Fly involves one simple mechanic that you do over and over and over again. It involves dexterity and quickness. It is not a puzzle to unravel. You simply have to learn how to time your ‘taps' so that you can keep the little guy swinging merrily along. If you screw up, the guy crashes to the ground and falls into a million pieces (or so it seems). That is the extent of the gameplay.
But if you've just got a few minutes and you want a little diversion to keep your mind off the test results at the doctor's office – by trying to get your little dude to swing without falling to the ground – then Rope ‘n' Fly is just the right kind of entertainment you're looking for. The animations of the little swinging man are fun and amazingly realistic in terms of the way a human body swings in the air (my only frame of reference is watching the trapeze artists at the circus . . . I've never actually swung from buildings myself). Of course, he is so small that he is rendered as a stick man, but that is necessary to get the effect of a man swinging across tall buildings. Otherwise, the graphics are just okay. Nothing spectacular. They are very flat and cartoon like.
And the sound is worse. In fact, there is no sound. This is almost a crime, and is certainly a real shame for a device that has such wonderful sound capabilities. The ‘swooshing' of the man swinging through the air and the ‘crashing' sound when his body meets the pavement could add so much to the fun of the game. A bubbly, infectious sound track would also make the game more appealing to me, especially knowing that I am repeating the same thing over and over again. If you give me an interesting, catchy song to hum along with, I don't get bored so quickly. Try to imagine playing Mario Brothers without humming along to those catchy tunes?
And that thought leads me to my ultimate conclusion when it comes to Rope ‘n' Fly. It is a fun diversion but I grew tired of it quickly. Solid sound design might have made a difference. More rich and engaging graphics might have kept my interest longer. More variation in gameplay (like dodging obstacles or combining other tasks or mixing in some other game mechanics) would have given this game more depth and therefore deserving of a higher overall score than I am willing to award.
I realize that at $.99, this could qualify as an ‘impulse buy' like picking up a pack of gum at the grocery store rather than a ‘considered purchase.' Still, if you buy lots of games per month for your iPhone (studies show that most of us iPhone users spend a lot of money each month), you want every dollar you shell out to be money well spent. If you're looking for ways to justify the purchase, keep this in mind. For moms out there, this game is too difficult for small children to play because of the level of dexterity and quickness required, so it is definitely not a game I would recommend as a ‘pass back' game you put in the hands of your 3 year old when they just won't stop pestering you as your try to get yourself ‘un-lost' (we've all been there). Is Rope ‘n' Fly a fun little, addicting diversion that might hold your interest for a few minutes here and there? Yes. Will it give you a tiny little glimpse (literally) of what it's like to ‘fly' like Spiderman? Yes. Does it fall short of its potential? Yes. Mr. Leybourne was so impressed with a real trapeze artist named Leotard that he was inspired to write the lyrics to “The Daring Young Man in the Flying Trapeze.” I don't think Rope ‘n' Fly is going to be inspiring anyone to write a song, but it would have been a much better game if they had included one.