Ape Escape’s best feature isn’t actually displayed on the box. Perhaps that’s because in creating a Move game based on capturing monkeys, the developers didn’t have the aim to make the player actually feel like a monkey themselves. If it was their intention, then hats off; I really did feel like a brainless primate throughout my time with the game. In simply putting the same old waggle-fest in the context of our furry friends, Sony may have actually stumbled upon the most immersive and convincing Move game yet.
I jest of course; playing Ape Escape while shaking your arm like it’s on fire is about as immersive as it sounds. Sadly this Move title, which could well have been one of the better games for the controller, falls well short of the earlier Ape platformers that showed up on PS1 and PS2.
Instead of sticking to the series roots, Ape Escape is half on-rails, half “swing like a madman to catch apes”. Basically, if you’re not using a slingshot to shoot apes and collect bananas, you’re using a fan or a net to catch apes and collect bananas. It’s a combination that raises an eyebrow at first, then brings both eyebrows down together are your face enters “the controls aren’t fricking working!” phase.
Each level starts off with a monkey resembling big bad guy Specter taunting you then flying off. One of your incredibly hot female sidekicks will then fall for the trick and shout something like “That’s Specter! After him!” Of course, it’s not Specter, and anyone living within a five mile radius of me will know that as I screamed “It’s not! Shut up!” at the start of every level. Pointless charades aside, you’ll face fake Specter at the end of every level, which are all mercifully short.
The game does little to switch things up throughout; some monkeys will fire projectiles at you and some will have to be shot down before you catch them, but it all essentially boils down to waiting for the little critters to make a dash at you, then swinging your net like a white flag on a cheese eating surrender monkey and hoping you catch something. It tires fast, and then asks you to do it hundreds of times.
No fun, then, and yet another waste of the Move’s potential. Moving from the campaign to the thrown-in minigames isn’t any better either; they’re just as boring.
It doesn’t help that the graphics look like they’re straight out of a PS2 remastered update. Each level is meant to take you to a new “era” in time, including Jurassic and, uh, carnivals, but environments are little more than lifeless props for the gameplay to take place in. The apes still sport their cheeky little looks, but they’re not quite the menacing bunch of misfits they once were; Raving Rabbids have filled that gap while this series has fallen into obscure and insignificant territory.
It’s a shame; why not have a full blown Ape Escape 4 that uses different devices just like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is doing with Wii MotionPlus? Instead here’s just another brainless throwaway game for a controller that already has plenty of them.
Stick to PlayStation Move Heroes or Sports Champions if you have to have something like this.
+ Has a few interesting ideas for the Move
– Repetitive, mindless waggle-fest
– Looks are dull