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Ape Escape: On the Loose

Reviewed May 2005 by Marc Morgan

Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEA
Release Date: March, 2005
ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
Genre: Action Platform
Price: $39.99

Ape Escape: On the Loose is SCEA's latest addition to the Ape Escape platformer series from the Playstation and the Playstation 2. This time around, a monkey named Specter acquires a hat that increases brain power immensely. He then breaks out of his cage at the zoo, and frees the other monkeys. All the other monkeys have caps on that make them smarter, more aware, and under the control of Specter. In the mean time, the professor has been perfecting his time machine, which will transport anything to different eras in time. The monkeys arrive at the professor's lab, and begin to make trouble. Before you know it, the time machine comes to life, and sucks the monkeys, as well as you, into it. It is up to you to stop the monkeys from changing history, by sending them all back to the right time using gadgets the professor invents for you!

Gameplay

After the monkeys get sent through time, it is up to you to bring them back. The professor supplies you with the necessary gadgets at the beginning of the game, a time net to send the monkeys back, and a sword-like rod to temporarily stop the monkeys so you can catch them. You gain more gadgets as you get further in the game, each with a certain use. When you begin playing the game, you will have to select the era, and area in the area through the level selection screen. There are many different eras to travel through, each with large levels for you to go through and find the monkeys. However, at the beginning of the game, there is only one selectable level to try; you have to "earn" the other levels by beating other levels. Monkeys are scattered in these vast levels, as well as enemies. You have to watch how much damage you take from the enemies. This is indicated by the health/cookie meter. If you are hit, you will lose a cookie, and most enemies drop a cookie when defeated, so you can gain them back. You also have to try to make sure the monkeys don't spot you, or they will panic, and possibly attack you. The levels are filled with all sorts of puzzles for you to figure out, whether it is finding your way through a building, to figuring out how to get to places that seem impossible to reach. In order to beat a level, you must capture a set amount of monkeys. However, there will usually be more than the required amount of monkeys in a level. You can come back later to the level to capture all of the monkeys, not just the monkeys that are required. Also, after you collect "Specter Coins" scattered through the levels, you can unlock mini-games including boxing, snowboarding, racing, ping-pong, and more!

The controls are fairly easy to get used to. You move your character using the analog stick, and move the camera with the D-Pad. The cross button is used to jump during gameplay, and the other three buttons (square, triangle, and circle) are to use the gadgets you assigned to the buttons through the menu. The L button is used to centre the camera if you tap it quickly, and switches to panoramic view if you hold it down. Lastly, the R button is used to reload any gun-like gadgets.

Graphics

Ape Escape features not only great gameplay, but good graphics as well. Although the levels are vast, the detail is also very good. This is great, because usually when there is a large amount of graphic detail in a game, the game becomes smaller because it cannot fit onto the media. Ape Escape offers a good compromise between quantity of the levels, and quality of the graphics. The levels and characters in Ape Escape were designed to look a little like cartoon characters, which adds a little to the wackiness of the storyline. All of the enemies and characters are well designed, and they all look different from each other. From a distance, you will be able to recognize if you are looking at a monkey that you should capture, or an enemy you should avoid or fight. However, don't be alarmed if what appears to be scenery is really an enemy, as some of the enemies are designed to blend in with the surroundings! The text is also easily readable, so you will be able to understand instructions without any trouble. Overall, the graphics look much better than the PS version of Ape Escape.

Sound

Like many other PSP games, there is both music and sound effects in Ape Escape. The music generally has a happy theme to it, but will change depending on what is happening in the game. There are many different tracks of music in Ape Escape, which is great because you don't have to worry about being annoyed by the same music over and over again. The music is crystal clear as well, even when the volume of the PSP is set to the maximum. Generally, the music is only limited by the speakers on the PSP, so it sounds even better with headphones on or attached to the audio input on a stereo, etc. There are sound effects for basically every action in the game, from swinging the sword, to being attacked, to jumping, and much more. Aside from the music and sound effects, during the cut scenes, the characters have voices, so you can also hear what is being said during conversations instead of just reading the subtitles.

Conclusion

Ape Escape is the first platformer for the PSP, so in a way, it sets the example for the other games to follow. With a great gameplay experience, and everything you'd expect from a platformer and more, it definitely sets a large example for others to follow in! It has many enemies, vast levels, monkeys with different difficulties to capture, puzzles, and the list continues to go on. The music is as you would expect from a platform genre game, and there are sound effects for basically every action. While squeezing all of this onto a single UMD, SCEA also manages to keep the quality of the graphics high as well.

I found that Ape Escape was easy to play, and played like other platform games. Obviously it is very similar to the Playstation series, but I also found it similar to the Ratchet and Clank series for the PS2. This may be because both feature wacky gadgets to help you through the game, but they are also the same style of gameplay. If you like games like Ratchet and Clank, Spyro the Dragon, etc. you will enjoy Ape Escape.

Playing Hints and Tips

* Try your best to sneak up on the monkeys, as they will panic and run away if you get too close.
* If a monkey panics, try to catch it if you want, but if you can't, leave it for a while to calm down, so you can try to catch it again.
* Watch out for enemies that blend in with the scenery. They may seem to pop out of nowhere if you don't watch carefully.
* Watch the cookie meter; if you run out of cookies, you will lose a life.

 

Screen Shots:

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

The graphics in Ape Escape are awesome, especially when you consider the vast levels and storyline that had to be squeezed into the UMD. All the levels are completely 3D, as well as the characters, enemies, items, etc. The graphics aren't absolutely breathtaking though, but are awesome considering all the other factors mentioned above.

Sound

The music and sound effects in Ape Escape are crystal clear, and fit the theme of the game perfectly. However, there aren't any major breakthroughs in the sound either.

Fun Meter

Ape Escape is more than your average platformer game. It features an interesting plot, easy to pick up gameplay, huge levels, all while keeping the quality high. It isn't so challenging that you get frustrated, but it also isn't so easy that it's boring. It fits right in the middle.

Addictivity

As mentioned before, Ape Escape is really easy to start playing, not too easy, and not too difficult. Generally, this takes most of the frustration you could suffer while playing the game, which makes it very addicting and hard to put down. The added mini-games also make it even more addictive!

Total Score= 4.125 Dragons, 82.5%



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