Review by CAHowell

Reviewed: 07/09/03 | Updated: 07/09/03

Although a silent hit, its still pretty damn fun

The History of Ape Escape is quite interesting. The very first game released was Ape Escape for the Playstation in 1999. It was known for it's excelent graphics at the time and orgianal concept of gameplay, catching monkeys. In 2001, a indirect sequel for Ape Escape, Ape Escape 2001, was released in Japan only. In 2002, the first sequel to the game was released in Japan, Ape Escape 2. It was later released in the UK Feburary of 2003. It was only recently picked up by another company and dubbed in the US.

Let's first look at the Gameplay. Although it is clearly a platformer like the origianal, the game is different from others. Your goal is to catch a certain ammount of monkeys in a level with a net called the money net. Although it sound's bland, the gameplay's major peak is the use of various gadgets. You can use a radar to track the monkeys, a boomerang that can emit a bannana scent to lure out monkets, a magnetic glove that can attach to metal objects, and several other gadgets. After 3 levels, you will face a boss, also known as one of the members of the freaky five. You continue that until you get to the last 2 stages where you face a boss after the level.

Some might question the graphics due to the game being a year old, but the game simply looks great. Unlike most sequels that fail to improve the graphics, Ape Escape has evolved quite a bit since the Playstation days. The graphic layouts themselvs are similar to the first, but are more in tune with the setting. The stages themselvs and the character models are very smooth and look very beautiful, from the reflection of a celing on tiles, to the monkeys looks and beauty of the characters.

The creators make a good effort with the music, sounds, and voice acting, but fall short. The music itself can vairy from being outright bland (Most of the stage music) to catchy (Freaky Monkey 5 theme and boss themes). The sounds, sadly, have not changed since Ape Escape. The monkeys sound the exact same as they did and most of the sounds are reused. The voice acting, though, it extremely interesting. The voice actor for Jimmy is the same as Ash from Pokemon (Veronica Taylor), the voice actor for Natalie and Pipotchi is the same as the voice actor of Misty from Pokemon (Ironic, isn't it?). Professor and Specter also have new voice actors as well.

The control layout is quite interesting, but a real pain in the ass. Unlike most PS2 games that let you use the option of using the Analog sticks, Ape Escape fully requires them. Although this unique method is quite interesting, it leaves the game open to non responsive controls and a bad camera. The major bugs are when you are trying to jump or use the sky flyer or twirl your stun club around. The analog stick sometimes does not respond and causes some bad incidents in later levels. The camera is a real nightmare like many of the other games out there. Although you can move the camera with the D-Pad, it sometimes goes to a bad spot and sometimes takes quite a bit to get out of.

The extras of the game greatly outweigh the first game. Although the reward for collecting all the monkeys is the same as the Playstation version (The true final fight with Specter), you also get to unlock Spike as a playable character again. Along with the normal storyline is a new addition to the series, the Gotcha Gotcha Box (Also seen in Shenmue I and II). It replaces the Specter coin hunt from the previous game by allowing Jimmy to get items from the machine for every 10 coins he gets. Although most of the items he gets are useless (Monkey fables, Spectors Notes, Natalies research notes, Game hints, fortunes, and pictures of stages and enemies), to interesting (The Comics and concept art from Ape Escape, and Ape Escape 2), and useful (Cookies, ammo, mini games, new chasis for the RC Car, Movies, and soundtracks).

In closing, I feel that Ape Escape 2 may be a silent hit with fans and newcomers alike, it is still a solid game that people should look at. Although the game is more popular in Japan and has quite a few Japanese inside jokes and humor, it is still likeable for everyone. Although it is not for everybody, fans of games like Sonic or Mario will see a few similarities between them and this game.

Gameplay: 10/10-Solid and fresh
Graphcs: 10/10-Shines very brightly over many PS2 games
Music: 6/10-Although bland at times, it can be quite good
Sound: 5/10-Reused and not realy realistic
Voice Acting: 10/10-Although it has cheesy dialogue, the voice actors of Pokemon suit the characters in a odd way
Control: 7/10- Although it was a good attempt for something new, it had way too many bugs to be any good or enjoyable
Extras: 10/10-Enough to keep this game for 2 to 3 weeks
FINAL: 10/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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