Paul Frank Platformer Hands-On Preview

You’ve probably seen the iconic Paul Frank monkey, Julius, on T-shirts or other apparel. You might even own a few items in your closet. If you’ve ever wanted that monkey to break out, don a pirate hat, and run and jump around a beach searching for treasure, the upcoming (and currently untitled) Paul Frank platformer from Saban is made just for you.

We were skeptical that a graphic design, no matter how iconic, would translate into a decent iOS game. But hey, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom turned out to be pretty awesome, so we’re willing to give this Paul Frank platformer a shot.

The first thing that stood out about this game are the unique controls. Instead of a boring old D-pad and jump buttons, the Paul Frank platformer uses swipes to move around. You can swipe to run, swipe to jump, and tap on the screen to glide forward using your monkey’s hat as a parachute. You can also press and hold on the screen to walk forward slowly, so you can line up your jumps precisely.

The control scheme took a little getting used to, but it did make the act of moving around a bit more fun than a traditional platformer, and it plays to the strengths of the iOS touchscreen. However, later levels seemed to require exact precision, so we would still like to have the option of a traditional D-pad for those situations.

One disappointment we found in our demo of the Paul Frank platformer is the visual style. Since Paul Frank is a graphic artist, we had high hopes for the look of this game. However, none of the characters or backgrounds looked particularly great, and the medium used to create the graphics appeared to be MS Paint. Several iOS games we’ve played have an outstanding animated style, like Rayman Jungle Run or Jazz: Trump’s Journey, and we were expecting more from this famous cartoonist’s new game.

Besides the controls and visual style, we also want to mention the vast amount of collectibles you can find in this game. You’ll have to earn stars to unlock new levels, and stars can be found by collecting all the golden peanuts in a level, or by picking up the letters P-A-U-L-F-R-A-N-K. There are also hidden stars, so there’s a good incentive to replay levels multiple times to find every last secret.

The Paul Frank platformer will be a free download, with some items available as an in-app purchase, or by using the game’s own plentiful currency. Extra lives and continues can also be purchased, so we hope that the game is not overly challenging to encourage players to part with their money (see Soldier vs Aliens for an unfortunate example of this). You’ll be able to download Julius’s Pirate Monkey Adventure (our suggestion for a title) in early November.

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