Catch Them If You Can
Ape Escape initially released on the original PlayStation in 1999. The game was the first on the system to require the dual analog controller that debuted approximately halfway in the PS1's life. Imagine if you will, taking that game, putting it on a system with just one analog input, and releasing as an enhanced port as a launch title. It's a recipe for disaster, right? However, Ape Escape: On the Loose, even being hurt a little by the lack of dual analogs, is an engaging game that is worth the time to play. Here's why.
On the Loose begins with a white-haired monkey named Specter putting on a special helmet that greatly increases his intelligence while also twisting his mind. He uses his added smarts to create helmets for over 200 monkeys and attacks a local laboratory which houses a time machine. Childhood friends Spike and Jake arrive on the scene and along with the monkeys are transported back in time to various periods. Knowing this monkey madness could negatively alter the course of history, the Professor asks Spike to capture as many monkeys as possible, stop Specter, and rescue Jake from Specter's mind control.
|Come here, you blasted rabbit!|
....Wait. I'm thinking of something else.
|The Time Station is the hub of Ape Escape.|
There are eight gadgets in all for Spike to acquire throughout his journey through time. Each has its own use and are implemented in such a way that they aren't utilized just once and then never seen again. There is a slingshot-type gadget that not only can take down airborne enemies, but it can also hit faraway buttons to turn on machinery, such as elevators and doors. The Super Hoop allows Spike to move faster on land, great for crossing bridges that fall apart once our hero steps foot on them so he doesn't fall with the bridge. Then there's the Sky Flyer, which without question is the most useful gadget in the game. It offers the ability for Spike to reach higher platforms that would otherwise be impossible, perfect for exploration of levels.
|Spike takes his new Sky Flyer out for a spin.|
|Return to older levels with newer gadgets|
to explore places you couldn't before.
|The alarm on the helmet of each monkey |
displays their current level of alert.
For those who have played the PS1 original Ape Escape, the obvious removal in the controls is that of the second analog stick. Instead, gadgets are mapped to the face buttons-- with the exception of X, which is used to jump. Simply pressing Select brings up the Gadget Menu, which makes for quick switching between the gadgets mapped to the face buttons and those not selected.
|Fog? You can tell this was originally |
a PS1 game, can't you!
Caveats aside, completing Ape Escape: On the Loose with a full 100% completion percentage is no easy task. Finding and capturing every ape is a challenge all to itself, but then there are time trials to pass in each level and Specter Coins to collect which unlock one of four mini-games, a snowboarding game, a boxing game, a racing game, and a ping-pong game. These can be played locally or online, and the latter is still available to use, though good luck finding anyone randomly online.
|There's no time to monkey around, Spike!|
There's a time limit to beat!
Ape Escape: On the Loose may not surpass the quality of the original PlayStation Ape Escape, but the developers used what they had button-wise to create this highly capable and fun enhanced port. It's a return to a game that was entertaining when it released, and it is still entertaining now. Now, if you'll excuse me, all this playing of the PSP port has me wanting to dive into some more monkey madness with later games in the Ape Escape series!
[SPC Says: 8.0/10]