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Jeremy Jastrzab
21 Sep, 2005

Ape Academy Review

PSP Review | We got this instead of Ape Escape: On the Loose? Bah!
For the US PSP launch, gamers received a remade version of the PS1 Ape Escape title (the first to take advantage of the dual analog controller), re-named Ape Escape: On the Loose on PSP. Since the original game, there have been a couple of sequels and a handful of spin-offs. Now for the recent PAL PSP launch, we were fortunate enough to receive one of these spin-offs. Ape Academy tries to work off the success of the Warioware and Mario Party titles as a party game and off the success of Super Monkey Ball as a mad monkey menagerie.

Well, the idea of monkeys and party/mini games is nothing new, and this one doesn’t even have any plastic spheres to go with it. Still, there are plenty of silly simians to go around, but unfortunately, Ape Academy needed a lot more than a set of primates to pull it out of deep mediocrity.

One problem with Ape Academy is that it was released in Japan last year. That’s right, LAST year. So effectively this is a very early generation PSP title. It shows. However, when you look at the game, each component separately is not too bad, even negligible. However, as a whole package, let’s just say that the party game barrel is too big and there aren’t enough monkeys to fill it.

Counting Monkeys is very uplifting! ... COUNTING MONKEYS! ... VERY UPLIFTING!!!!

Counting Monkeys is very uplifting! ... COUNTING MONKEYS! ... VERY UPLIFTING!!!!
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The game has all of three modes: Vs, Academy and Mini-game Collection. Vs allows you to take on a friend in either game-share or ad-hoc mode. The Academy is a progressive that romp through six-tiers worth mini-games, each getting progressively more difficult. In each tier, you’ll be presented with a three-by-three grid, with each box on the grid representing the mini game. Effectively, you’ll play one game at a time. If you win, the "nought" appears on the box and if you lose a “cross” appears. So each tier in the academy is essentially a noughts-and-crosses game. However, you’ll have to play all nine and your overall result is determined by how many line you complete. In the lower tiers, you’ll only need a minimum of one line, but you’ll need a minimum of two in the higher ones.

Through the Academy, once you play a certain mini-game the first time, you then have access to it under the Mini-game Collection. Unlike in the Academy, where you’ll only have to play up until a certain point, playing a game through the Collection screen, you’ll play until you lose or give-up. As you play, you’ll also unlock figurines and these can be viewed at anytime that you’re outside the other modes.

Apart from the fact that there is nothing to do outside of all that has been mentioned above, the game is hampered by many severe problems. The first and foremost is that none of the games are explained properly. Sure some are easy to figure out (count the monkeys that walk past) but there are some that require a lot of fumbling and bumbling to figure out. Then there are some where the rules suck. For example, a draw in soccer means you lose. Strike one. Secondly, for many of these games that demand reflex and precision, the controls range from unresponsive, stiff, floaty and you aren’t even able to use the analog stick for anything. Strike two. Thirdly, the load times are too frequent, too obtrusive and get in the way of the game flow, given that you’re constantly changing screens and menus. Strike three. Fourthly, a very annoying cast of characters, outside of the usual siren-heads. Strike four. Finally, there simply isn’t enough to this game, the mini-game total barely reaches 50 and this pales when you look at leading games in this genre such as Warioware or even Super Monkey Ball. Strike five (any more?).

Mini-game #34: Watching the banana cook

Mini-game #34: Watching the banana cook
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The mini-games aren’t the greatest collection that you’ll come across, but there are a few standouts among the numerous flops. These happen to be the ones that do something unique. These include a rock-paper-scissors game that plays out like and intergalactic 2-D fighter. Your monkey is placed in a space suit and you fight it out using large rock, paper and scissor icons. The aim to break through each others icons and strike a blow to the opponent’s health bar, while floating up and down. This is one of the few games that is engaging and even stimulating, given the frenetic yet manageable face. Then there is a fascinating diving game that requires you to turn the screen vertically or the bowling game that is in very least, precise. Unfortunately, these little gems are swallowed in a sea of trash and repetitiveness.

There are many standard entries, such as soccer and air hockey. However, both are hampered by horribly sluggish controls, while the hockey controls are also uncontrollably floaty. Other games such as parachute and dodgeball are hampered by poor physics, that make the games impossible to complete on higher difficulties. Your reflexes may be good enough but the controls are not. The responsive controls are mainly those concerning the face buttons. Multiple-choice quizzes, counting games and music-rhythm are the most precise but even kids will be laughing at the poor implementation of some of these and sometimes the difficulty can get spiked to impossible levels. Then you've got stupid rules like a draw will equal a loss. In all, the lack of fresh appeal and abundance of gameplay issues hamper the game way too much.

Visually, Ape Academy has all the clippings of an early generation title. The models are low detail and the general quality is quite low. However, they still remain unique, colourful and vibrant. Audio-wise, the music is up-tempo and there are plenty of monkey screeches but then there are some really annoying voices and pathetically corny dialogue.

See Monkey, Do Monkey, Money Dance

See Monkey, Do Monkey, Money Dance
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The fact that this game has monkeys is barely enough to hold it up to the (comparatively) lofty standards set by other front runners in this genre. The fact that it just pales in about every area imaginable, from the amount of mini-games, game modes, load times, poor explanations and even worse controls, are all encompassed by the actuality that there is nothing new to see here. It’s bad to the point where even the kids that this game is essentially aimed at, will probably balk if ever put their hands on this game. Ape Academy is one of those games that Sony needn’t have bother to bring it to our shores. These monkeys need a serious spanking (PALGN does not condone cruelty to animals, or to oneself - Ed).
The Score
Ape Academy fails on all levels as a mini-game collection. Even if the lack of vareity and modes are negligile, the control and balance kill any possibilty of redemption. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
8 years ago
monkies are cool!!!

but seriously this game looks like something only hardcore stoners would play
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developer:
  Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

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