Review by essellAY

Reviewed: 12/17/04

It lives up to the original, but something's not right...

When Ape Escape was released on the PlayStation, it received glowing praise from many sources for its originality, exciting gameplay and the fact that it included a super-intelligent monkey. However, this set the standard pretty high for a sequel.

This continues the focus from the original of catching monkeys (obviously) to progress through the game... and this is where the game's main fault lies. One of the largest strengths of the original was the way it revolutionised gaming and didn't borrow hardly anything from any games released before it - it was totally fresh. This game, unfortunately, is just a rehash of what we all saw last time.

The new gadgets are... interesting, to say the least, but you get the feeling that they were only put into the game in order to say "Look! We *did* add something extra onto this game!" They're all quite pointless add-ons which have a couple of uses right after you get each one and then 2 or 3 useful points in the rest of the game, and those uses all seem like they were put in just for the sake of it, rather than to enhance the gameplay.

The story introduces a couple of new characters and another dubiously badly put-together plot to give the monkeys their new chance to be captured. The main hole that can be poked through this god-awful department of the game is the renaming of most of the first game's key characters - the heroic main character of the first game, Spike has been renamed 'Kakeru' and the Professor's daughter Tracy finds herself stuck with the new tag of 'Natsumi'. While giving characters Japanese names is fair enough, what would the outcry be like if Solid Snake or Mario was renamed 'Hiroshi'?

The graphics are more polished this time through (as one would expect, due to the slight graphical advantage of the PS2 over the PlayStation), but something seems wrong about them. While better graphics are generally seen as an advantage, in this case it just doesn't seem to fit the style of the game. The original excelled in this area of the game, but for some reason it seems that the graphics should have been left alone... they're a long way short of being breathtaking and they detract from the enjoyability of the game, making the game feel too spaced out and making the surroundings look almost like plastic.

The minigames are the only real way this game beats its predecessor. There are several hugely enjoyable minigames in here which are unlocked as extras during the course of the game. These three hugely varied games provide hours of fun, and a lot of laughs are to be had when playing these with other people.

Once you've beaten the main game and caught all the monkeys there isn't much left to do, besides beat the game with 'Kakeru' (which is exactly the same as your first time through anyway). There are plenty of hours of game time just playing through to the end of the main game though, with a huge plethora of levels to work through, and although the difficulty isn't massive, it's enough to keep you on your toes.

Overall, this game is well worth buying, but is by no means an alternative to the original. Although it's easy to be put off by comparisons to the original, there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had with this game. There's a lot to do and it's a fun game, regardless of anything else.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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