Monkey See, Monkey Catch
I came to the Ape Escape series quite late, with my first entry being the PSP port of the original Ape Escape. Since playing that game and very much enjoying it, I quickly attempted to seek out the other installments of this underrated Sony gaming series. Now, I have reached Ape Escape 3, and with it celebrating its ten-year anniversary in North America next month, there is no better time to get funky with these monkeys.
The basic premise of Ape Escape 3 has the main villain of the series and highly intelligent monkey, Specter, coming up with a new plan to try to take over the world. This time his monkey cohorts have created a series of television stations to put their viewers into a drooling daze. Thankfully, not every human is under Specter's television station spell, and heroes Kei and Yumi (you're able to choose between which character you want to play as at the beginning of the game) set out to take down each of Specter's television stations broadcasting monkey mayhem. With each station under watch by a member of the Freaky Monkey Five, the adventure is going to be no cakewalk.
Ape Escape 3 utilizes full motion video cutscenes, using more intricate character models than what is seen in-game. The movie direction is competent enough, and the voice acting is suitably cheesy, as is the dialogue. This is a very kid-friendly game, from its story to its gameplay.
As for the gameplay, Ape Escape 3 follows the same structure of past Ape Escape games. You enter a level with a set of tools that increases as you progress through the game. The goal is to capture a set number of monkeys strewn about more and more complicated levels. At first you'll enter smaller, more linear levels, but by the end of the game, you'll be traveling through multi-room, multi-level, and hidden area-filled, expansive levels. If you're looking for a heavy challenge, Dark Souls this ain't.
|Yikes! Mad monkey on the loose!|
|You might regret doing this, Kei.|
You start off with a modest amount of tools available to you. Just a stun club and a net to capture monkeys. However, as you play on through Ape Escape 3, you gain more equipment to help out in tracking down monkeys. You're even able to return to past levels to reach areas that you were previously unable to because of a lack of a given tool. The amount of tools is lesser than past Ape Escape games, but what you do get is helpful nonetheless.
|No worries. I'm not going to say "I told you so."|
One really cool example of how the RC car is implemented has you controlling the car with the right analog stick through a countryside diorama. You can easily see what's going on as the action all plays out under the glass floor your character is standing on. As you make progress with your RC car along a curvy road, your character needs to press and hold down switches to change the direction of the bridges, allowing the RC car to cross them. The whole affair leads to the RC car scaring a monkey from its hiding spot, allowing you to attempt to catch it.
It's not just the RC car that sees action in Ape Escape 3. Each tool in the game is put to good use, and you're never just relying on one or two tools throughout the game. Each one has a benefit to using it, and even though you can only have a tool assigned to each face button, changing tools is a breeze. There is no real burden to be found when you have to switch between a tool that is assigned to a face button and one that is not.
|Nothing like a stun club to the face to ruin this monkey groom's wedding.|
|One of seven different morph forms Kei or Yumi can take.|
|This girl means serious business when there are monkeys to catch.|
|This sneaking mission might turn into a snacking one|
if this monkey starts gobbling up those bananas.
[SPC Says: B+]