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!
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
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.
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
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.
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!