Review by Bouchart
For an unfinished prototype, it isn't too bad.
Bio Force Ape is an action platformer that was never officially released for the NES. It was in development in 1991 and it was announced that development was cancelled in early 1992. In 2010, a working prototype was discovered and was released to the public. Despite being a rough, unfinished game it is playable from beginning to end and did show a little promise.
On the title screen there is a short animation which explains the plot. A man in a green coat who seems to be a mad scientist kidnaps a man and a girl. A small monkey, apparently their pet, drinks a potion and becomes a half man, half ape creature with great strength. As of this review, no design documents were ever released or any manual for the game. During its development, the only publicly available information about the game appears to be a short advertisement in the August 1991 issue of Nintendo Power, which doesn't add much more information than this.
After starting the game, the player is knocked off of the top of a building by some kind of mutant. If this game has one interesting feature, it's how fast the screen scrolls and how quick the movement is. Few, if any other games on the NES had such rapid movement, both horizontally and vertically. After falling to the ground the player must move through a building, which is a bit of a maze, to reach the exit where there is the scientist holding the girl captive. There is no boss fight here and merely reaching the end will rescue the girl and start the next level. The player can run, jump, duck and roll along the ground, kick, and punch. In the first level the player can also cling to ropes and use them to clear long gaps. Food items will restore a little health with the exception of lobster, which causes damage and may be a programming error. Some small enemies, mainly human sized goons and possibly ninjas, are killed with one hit. Larger enemies are hybrids of human and animal. There's a half man, half bee creature, a half kangaroo, half man creature, and a half man, half alligator creature. Despite looking different and having different animations they all are defeated the same way. Kicking and punching them enough will stun them. Then the player can either perform a suplex or throw the enemy to defeat them.
The second level begins with the player riding on a mine cart. This happens several times in the second level and it is simply a means of moving from one place to another. There is no platforming to be done and the player can't interact with anything when riding a mine cart. The mine cart brings the player to a room where he must defeat an enemy or two in order. Defeating the enemy makes a platform appear so that the next room or mine cart is accessible. This continues for some time until the end of the level, where the scientist is holding the man captive. Reaching that point ends the level and rescues the man.
The third and final level has very few enemies but is a complicated maze. It takes place in a sewer. Large fans blow the player upwards to reach new areas. The player must reach plungers to detonate stacks of dynamite to reach new areas. This level also has teleporters that moves the player from one part of the level to another, sometimes to parts early in the level. It is possible to run around in circles trying to figure out what teleporter leads to what area, and as such this is likely the most frustrating and longest level in the game. Treadmills in one area make platforming very tricky and it is possible to fall and end up at a spot early on in the level. Most annoyingly, there are mines in a few places which can't be defeated and damage the player. Since the player can move very quickly, sometimes it is difficult to react or jump out of the way in time. At the end of the level the mad scientist drinks a potion to turn himself into a mutant, who is a palette swap of the player. It dies with one hit and the ending plays.
Dying at any time returns the player to the title screen and there is no password or continue function. While the game doesn't keep score, it does show the time used to complete each level. In total the game can be completed in about fifteen minutes unless the player gets lost in the third level. Each level has its own music but there is no music at the title screen. There is also a sound test accessible by entering a code at the copyright screen on starting the game.
Despite being an unfinished and unreleased prototype it can be completed from beginning to end and is free of serious bugs, except for the final boss dying so quickly. It showed some promise if the development had continued, even if the prototype version is short and has repetitive combat.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Bio Force Ape (JP, 12/31/98)
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