The 3D platformer has been established for some time now, but only recently has it begun to come of age. Like any game in a popular genre, it has been cloned many times with few successes. Ape Escape excels in precisely what so many 3D platformers lack: innovation and solid design. Don’t let Ape Escape’s title and story fool you – behind the lame rhyme and kiddy story lies an addictive, innovative action game that fans of the genre would be advised not to miss.
Specter was the cutest monkey at the amusement park until that fateful day – the day he found the P-Point helmet. Once donned by the curious simian, the helmet boosted Specter’s intelligence to super-genius levels. Tired of living to amuse spiky-haired locals, Specter sends an army of monkeys into the past to rewrite history and dominate the humans that embarrassed him all his life. Caught in the villain’s temporal wake, it’s up to Spike to scour Earth’s history to capture the primate hordes and, ultimately, Specter himself. While a little on the young side, Ape Escape’s story is ultimately pretty clever.
Ape Escape consists of more than 20 huge 3D levels based on a variety of time zones. To clear a level, Spike must capture a set number of monkeys. After filling that quota, you must access the next level. Reaching the monkeys will require you to jump, swim, climb, and fly through a variety of locales and situations. In addition to dexterity, a job like this takes tools… or, in this case, toys. Heading up your arsenal are a time net and a lightsaber-esque stun club. The stun club simply incapacitates the victims long enough to get the net around them, while the netting itself unleashes a cascade of special effects that’ll whisk the monkey back to the present. Throughout the course of the game, Spike will collect six additional gadgets. In addition to providing the means of completing future levels, returning to previous levels with new gadgets will allow Spike to capture any monkeys he left behind. The monkeys themselves vary in speed and strength and come equipped with weapons all their own to make their pursuit all the more interesting. In addition to monkeys, each level has specter tokens to collect. Collecting enough tokens will open minigames that exist simply to provide you with more entertainment. The resulting experience is simple to master but addicting nonetheless. “One more monkey” will quickly become “one more level.”