Now I know what some of you must be thinking – the Ape Escape series is still going! Yes, it is, but the recent games have failed to encapsulate what made the first Ape Escape game so great. Ape Escape needs to reboot and go back to it’ roots, and I’m about to tell you why.
For those of you that don’t remember the first Ape Escape, the plot involved an albino ape named Specter, who stumbles across a helmet which when he put on, gave him super intelligence. Wanting to take over the world, Specter duplicates the helmet and creates an army of apes, which are then sent back in time to try and rewrite history. You play as Spike, a ten year old boy whose job it is to travel to different time periods to catch the apes before anything is changed. The fact you jumped between time periods meant the variety in levels was great. Spike visited everywhere from space to the Cretaceous Period.
One of the best gameplay features was the crazy gadgets. Spike had more gadgets than James Bond himself. After all, some of those naughty monkeys were pretty smart, so it required a little more than a net to catch them. There was a remote control car for getting into small spaces, a stun club for smacking bad monkeys, a radar for finding well hidden apes, a hula hoop that sped up Spike’s movement and many, many more. Each gadget unlocked was more fun than the last.
The Apes (AKA Pipo Monkeys)
It may be obvious to say the apes are what made Ape Escape, but the personalities from ape to ape differed hugely. Some were incredibly docile and easy to catch, while others were aggressive or slightly more intelligent than other apes. Some even had guns or could operate switches. All apes had a Pipo helmet with a light on it, similar to Specters’, which indicated their stress level. A blue light meant they were unaware of Spike’s presence, and could easily be caught. A yellow light meant they knew Spike was around somewhere but they could still be caught off-guard. Finally, a red light meant they could see exactly where you were and it was almost impossible to catch them as they often became very violent. Even when they were hard to catch, the apes were the comedy show and catching the particularly hard ones felt like a real achievement.
The Mini games
Ape Escape featured three different mini games which could be unlocked using Specter coins, which are hidden in the story mode levels. If you ever got bored of catching apes, you could ski, box or even pilot a flying saucer. These mini games were pretty tricky to get used to, but they were a welcome break from the normal gameplay, especially when you got to play as an ape.
Overall, Ape Escape was pretty advanced for its time. The 3D animation was fantastic and there was nothing else quite like it on the PS1. In fact, no game series has matched it since. Ape Escape has received quite a few sequels but sadly, the only Ape Escape to hit the PS3 was a first-person Move game, which bares little resemblance to its roots. Come on Sony, give a monkey’s uncle and get Ape Escape back to its good old self, even if it’s just a HD collection.