Years ago in 1999 there was a brilliant hunting game released exclusively for the PlayStation. It was fine proof that Japanese style games could indeed take a western approach and in turn be successful throughout, pleasing pretty much everyone who got their hands on it. Ape Escape, was a huge success with the critics, and spawned numerous sequels.
Ape Escape follows the journey of Spike, a young boy, who goes on a quest to capture a lot of monkeys and ultimately, his nemesis Specter, an albino primate who gains human like intelligence from a device known as the Peak Point Helment, as well as an overwhelming desire to take over the world. Specter cannot do this alone however, and so fits helmets he has made himself on hundreds of other monkeys like him. Ape Escape is not as simple as catching a monkey and moving onto the next, for a game so humorous, it takes itself pretty seriously on occasion.
Since Specter has an army of monkeys at his disposal, it seems only fair that Spike would also be given the chance to fight back with a good chance of survival. Spike is given various gadgets throughout his journey which help him in many ways to capture and vanquish the many enemies thrown his way. Since Ape Escape was one of the first games to fully utilize dual analog sticks, the focus on control was immense. Not only was the right stick used for capturing monkeys, but it was also used for Ape Escape’s many gadgets. For me, the Dash Hoop and Sky Flyer became valuable components to the game, and refreshed the experience greatly. That is not to say the other gadgets did not play a huge part in my experience either, pushing to get that next gadget became something of an addiction, and one I am proud to admit.
Considering Ape Escape‘s success, it is somewhat odd we have not seen a full entry in the series since the days of the PlayStation 2. It is true that the PlayStation 3 had an Ape Escape title released exclusively for the PlayStation Move, but not only was this not the title we wanted, but it was also a flop of a game. On rails is a risky move for any game, let alone a widely known franchise.
So still, fans are left clamoring for more monkeys, and yet no monkeys have made an appearance in years outside of cameo appearances in games like Little Big Planet and PlayStation All-stars. Both great games in their own right, but still not the Ape Escape games we want.
Nothing has compared to the Ape Escape games, and I doubt no amount of Cabela big game hunts ever will. I recently finished the first title after re-buying it again for Vita, and as fantastic as it was, I was just left craving a next gen experience. Make it happen Sony, for fans of monkeys with lights on their heads everywhere.
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