In 1998 the dual shock controller was released for the Psone in America and Europe. Though it was a cool innovation of the controller with vibration feedback and dual analogue sticks it wasn't until 1999 where we would see a game specifically designed around this controller, and that game was 'Ape Escape,'
Ape Escape is about a white monkey called Specter who somehow gets hold of a helmet from the professor which makes him super smart. So rather that writing the next great piece of literature and proving apes can write, he goes for taking over the world approach and brings a army of apes along for the ride in the process. You play generically named Spike voiced by Richard Pearce well known for his voice talent in Dennis the Menace and with the help for the Professor and his assistant Katie it's up to you to catch all those monkeys and return them to the zoo. The story is very simple and cheesy to the extent that you'll either cringe at it or just except it for what it is and enjoy the ride.
Ape Escape is primarily a platformer. You have several gadgets and gizmos your character can equip which work using the analogue sticks in a fun and unique way. For example the "I can't believe its not a light saber" stun stick to stun monkeys or kill enemies,the sling shot for long range shots and the hula hoop which makes you sprint faster. Gameplay is really fun and entertaining, there are various monkeys to catch from the basic dum run away ape to the gun totting one that may require more than a net to catch. Your presented with a new gadget to add to your inventory keeping the game interesting and fun to progress through.
Levels are large and require a lot of exploration to hunt down the monkeys. On your first run through the levels you only need to catch a few monkeys to progress but you can revisit stages if you want to go for 100% completion and to get the true game ending.
Graphics are cute and colourful. The feels very kid friendly but it really is suitable for everyone. You'll visit a wide a variety of levels set in various points in time. areas rarely look boring and it feels fun to progress to the next one. Enemies are predominantly the monkeys that you need to catch with your trusty net though there are a few bad guys as well which killing usually rewards you with health. The game is fairly easy, not incredibly challenging if you die you can restart. Most people will fly through this one although they will do so smiling each step of the way.
Music is appropriate but not exactly stand out in the game. Every level has a basic tune that comes across as happy and jolly, but nothing will stand as particularly memorable. The voice acting comes across as very kidding and cheesy in this game which to some will feel quite cringe worthy, but shouldn't spoil your enjoyment.
Overall, Ape Escape is very fun but maybe a little too easy. Regardless its a good for any gamer of any age and is easy to get into, the only reason you might not is if you dislike platformers, cute graphics and cheesy voice acting.
The playstation through it's life cycle was always looking for a killer platformer to rival those of Sega (Sonic) and Nintendo (Mario) and even though they had several really great ones they never managed to sell any of them as a stand out mascot or reason to buy their machine, not that they needed to of course as everyone and their mum had a Playstation.
It was great to finally see a game made with the Dual Shock controller in mind and for that it does very well indeed and it doesnt feel anywhere near as good with rumble turned off. Gran Turismo may have been the first game to promote the new Sony controller but Ape Escape showed how to use it properly and many of its uses went on to be implemented in hundreds of other games.
Verdict:- Ape escape is a perfectly enjoyable platformer that covers all the basics whilst adding it's own ideas and innovations. Using the twin Analogue sticks to catch those monkeys sure is a hell of a lot of fun but it's fun that doesnt last long enough.
With a better soundtrack and either more levels or a harder difficulty curve this could easily have been a real stand out game as the design is there and the characters are memorable for sure. As it is it's simply a good game which is no bad thing after all now is it, go check it out and make up your own mind.
Second Opinion:- It's hard to follow something like a Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie because once stuff like that's out, everything else looks ordinary.
What Sony did however was create a more silly / fun experience and combine it with a way of selling a new controller. A pad that one day would go on to pretty much rule the industry. Not too shabby from a game about catching monkey's in a net. Ape Escape is a solid game across the board and above all else it will make you smile... a lot! Why else do we play videogames eh?
Transbot Scores:- 8 out of 10