SONY PSP REVIEW: APE ESCAPE 3

This is one game you seriously want to monkey around with. by StewXX

February 3, 2006 - Ape Escape is back with Ape Escape 3. Fundamentally it's still the same game at the core but it's faster, more frenetic and the new content really mixes things up. If you liked running around trying to capture monkeys in a net, you're not going to be disappointed with Ape Escape 3

There's more to do in Ape Escape 3. It's not a new game, it's a continuation of the series and an excellent one at that. It's not every day that a game can repackage the same gameplay and make it feel fresh. Even though you're running around with a net and club, the look, feel and response is more like using swords as you hack, slash and thrash them around in an attempt to stun the devilish monkeys to capture them in your net. You'll have more weapons and gadgets at your disposal in this version and the monkeys will lead you through new platform environments while others will take a more aggressive approach trying to take your weapons away from you. Anyway you slice it, Ape Escape 3 is more fun than three barrels of monkeys.

Specter is in control of his renegade band of mischievous monkeys. They are in the process of trying to control the world through the broadcasting of specially created TV shows that are so mind-numbingly dumb that they turn human minds into mush. So overwhelming are the monkeys' powers that they have recruited the last game's heroes, the professor, Spike and Jimmy to help them. Fortunately the young brother and sister team of Kei and Yumi possess the necessary skills and abilities to round up these out-of-control primates as they chase them through the sets of the TV studios which serve as multiple environments.

There are more than 400 monkeys to capture throughout the entire game but you they are divided up into the different environments so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. The environments include the Old West, a desert, the arctic, a beach resort and an airport of sorts. Here you will encounter platform elements as you chase the monkeys down.

To keep things interesting, the monkeys have different personalities. Some are fast, some are slow, some are devious and some are downright dangerous. The dangerous monkeys can be equipped with weapons such as machine guns and laser guns. They will actually try to take your net away from you and if they succeed it's game over. You will also encounter specially themed monkeys that have adapted to their environment that can breathe fire and sting you with a scorpion tail.

The pace of the game is shoved into overdrive. The anime characters are running around like headless chickens, spitting out dialog at a furious pace that can be somewhat annoying after a while, especially with the poor translation. Controlling your character is done primarily with the two analog sticks; one for moving about and one for deploying your weapons. It's a very good control system that works well despite its simplicity.

The weapons that you can access can be altered by morphing into different costumed characters. There's the cowboy, Marital Arts experts, ninja, knight and an Arabian with his Genie. The cowboy runs around shooting pistols while the ninja is more skilled at platforming moves such as climbing, balancing and jumping. The Arabian lets his Genie loose to dance in front of the monkeys and hypnotize them temporarily allowing you the opportunity to catch them while they are under his spell. Speaking of temporary, these morphed character forms are timed with a meter. They drain the meter when used and you have to build it up again to access other forms. Fortunately you will be given lots of opportunity to feed the meter.

Gadgets are also available to help you track down and capture these little rapscallions. The RC car will let you catch up to the faster monkeys by letting you cross the treacherous terrain at high speeds. To negotiate large chasms and other pitfalls you can fly across using the hand-held propeller blade. A hula-hoop of sorts lets you spin around and do double damage to anything you come into contact with. There are also mech suits that you can wear that will provide you with extra protection and give you the power to smash down walls and other obstacles. The sheer variety of weapons, tools and gadgets is what makes this game so interesting but at the same time you don't feel forced into using any particular gadget, vehicle, weapons or device.

Capturing specific numbers of monkeys in each level will allow you to move on to the next area. There are puzzles to solve along the way and you can replay some of the levels to try and capture all of the monkeys. Coin collecting lets you unlock tons of goodies. There are mini-games, movies, artwork and items that you can use in-game. All you have to do is take your coins to a store and buy what you want. There's a Metal Gear Solid-inspired mini-game that features a monkey in the role of Solid Snake. It's well done and maintains the humorous spirit of this monkey-chasing series.

I'm not big on the voice-acting but the music is good, in a frenetic way. The game never lightens up on the action and that can get a little tiring after a while. After a couple of hours of play I had to go and take a nap. But I pretty much do that after watching a movie, eating a couple of burgers or talking to my parents on the phone. The camera angle can get a little out of hand and difficult to control at times. You have to use the trigger buttons to access it as the sticks are used for the movement and weapons so the degree of control is a little stiff.

Occasionally there is some slowdown when the screen is full of monkeys. It's tolerable in any case. The cartoon-like graphics are colorful and nicely rendered with plenty of depth and detail. With lots of wacky sound effects, fast-paced, non-stop action this is one seriously busy game that is guaranteed to hold even the most deficit of attention spans.

Features:

  • Morph into unique characters to progress through game levels and discover hidden areas.
  • Transform into a ninja, a gun slinging cowboy, kung fu fighter, dragon slayer, knight and more.
  • Enjoy a hilarious storyline as the monkeys hijack everything from familiar drama and sports broadcasting to variety shows and even infomercials.
  • Monkey AI is smarter, more varied and tougher. Monkeys can dodge player attacks and retreat as well as counterattack by disarming players and then using the captured weapons on them.
  • Utilize innovative gadgets and weapons-including radar sweep and hoop attacks.
  • Hunt down those pesky monkeys with drivable vehicles, including a tank, powerboat and sports car.

By StewXX
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Ape Escape 3 (PSP)
4.5
Graphics
Bright, colorful and cartoonish. The monkeys have different personalities and accompanying visual characteristics that are fun. The kids have an annoying anime look to them.
4.4
Control
The controls are simple and effective although the camera suffers due to being relegated to the shoulder buttons.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good fast music but the voiceovers suffer from too much fake exuberance and poor translations.
3.8
Play Value
You can go back and collect more coins and monkeys. When you tire of that you can try the two-player mode.
4.4
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: SCEI
Pub: Sony
Release: Jan 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by StewXX

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best