Ape Escape 2
1 April 2005 | 0
Ape Escape 2 is probably the funniest, most manic platform game I’ve played to date. As I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of the platform game genre. This game, however, took me by surprise and in no time at all, I found myself completely addicted to the silliness that is Ape Escape 2.
The main character in Ape Escape 2 is Hikaru, who is in charge of sending a consignment of trousers and helmets to the Monkey Park for his boss, the professor. Hikaru gets things wrong and sends the trousers and helmets all at once. These garments somehow endow the simians with extra intelligence and cunning, and they quickly escape the park and spread themselves across the globe. It is up to you to take control of Hikaru, and with the aid of a monkey net and a host of ‘gotcha gadgets’, track down and recapture the monkeys.
This game takes great advantage of the Dual Shock controller. The left stick is used to control Hikaru’s movement through the levels of the game, while the right stick is used to control whatever ‘Gotcha Gadget’ you are using at the time. For example, if you have the monkey net activated, moving the right stick in a left-to-right motion will have Hikaru swipe the net in the same direction. This adds a dimension of fun that I find lacking in most platforms. There are 11 ‘Gotcha Gadgets’ in all. These include the stun club, monkey radar, catapult, and my personal favourite, the ‘Dash Hoop’.
The Dash Hoop is a typical example of the kind of quirky gameplay to be found throughout this game. To use the hoop you must rotate the right analogue stick in a clockwise motion. As you do this, Hikaru begins to pivot his hips and Hula the hoop; once you’ve built up sufficient momentum with the hoop, you earn a short burst of speed that will aid Hikaru over many obstacles.
No platform game would be complete without gold coins to collect, and Ape Escape 2 has them by the lorry-load. These tokens can then be exchanged for treats at the Gotcha box, taking the form of concept artwork, monkey fables and in-game photos. Most importantly, there are mini-games to be unlocked. One of these mini-games ‘Monkey Football’ is so much fun that it is reason enough on its own to buy the game.
The levels themselves can be quite short, but usually there are monkeys that you will not be able to capture on your first go. As you progress through the game you will earn more monkey gadgets, and some of these gadgets will allow you to return to a level and capture monkeys that previously evaded capture. The monkeys themselves have varying levels of intelligence and cunning. Some take a lot more effort and stealth to capture; others just dash around until you corner and capture them. The boxing monkeys dance around you all the while taking jabs at you and reducing your health. Kung Fu monkeys can be hell to catch and will demonstrate just how skilled they are in their chosen martial art. There are also many more armed with lasers, grenades, flame-throwers and even heat seeking rockets, dying to take a pot-shot at you.
Of course, there are more than just monkeys to impede your progress through the game. Enemies range from charge-on-sight pigs and bumblebees to unnameable creatures that will lob a variety of projectiles at you. Most of these must also be dealt with in order to have any success with the game.
The game is very Japanese in its look; the characters are drawn and animated very much in the ‘Manga’ style. The characters are quite simple in their look but considering there can be dozens running around the screen at any one time without any noticeable lag or slow down, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The music in the game is my only real gripe. It just sounds a little too electronic and old-fashioned — a little too much like an old coin-operated game for my liking.
This game is definitely for any platform game fan, young or old. There is always some absurdity unfolding before your eyes that will at least make you smile. The gameplay is simple yet addictive and as there always seems to be at least one monkey per level that escapes, the replay value is quite high too.