Video games have entered a very exciting time in the late 90’s. The introduction of 3D, supported by PS1, presented designers with a wide range of new challenges. How can I comfortably control my character in 3D?Widely recognized Super Mario 64 The first attempt was pretty nailed, but there are other games of the era that deserve attention. Ape EscapeSony’s 3D puzzle platformer is one of them.
This was the first game that required the use of the DualShock, a fashionable new controller with two analog sticks. When 3D games were still a new concept, it took some time for the standard controls we use today to be fully adopted. As a result, games like this were still in the experimental stage. Most of the charm of Ape Escape is its novel control method. It takes full advantage of both analog sticks in ways not seen today.
However, there is a bit of context. The monkey Specter, tied to the zoo, gets a special helmet that makes him super smart. He releases the primate brothers, gives them helmets, and they go to the professor’s lab, where they go back in time and try to replace humanity as the dominant species. Inadvertently, Spike and his friend Buzz also travel in the past, and it’s up to the former to stop the madness by catching all those nasty monkeys. It’s a funny story, but it enables different creative levels throughout the adventure.
Its core idea of catching all apes is great, but still very unique. In the first place, Spike has access only to clubs and the net, which are reliable tools at each level. All gadgets are controlled using the right stick. For example, swing in the direction of pushing the club or net. It’s difficult to get used to this at first, but it’s very useful to have more control over where you’re aiming for your swing. If you find an ape, get close enough and pull down the net to catch it. With a club, you can stop the club from running around and scoop up the club for a short time.
Things are obviously not that simple. As hinted at, monkeys can find you and their helmets will tell you what alertness they are in. Fortunately, each level is open for exploration and there is no time limit. Your own pace. Press and hold L3 to make it easier for the spikes to crawl. This makes it awkward to hold down the stick and move it, but it makes it much easier to sneak up on the target. The act of finding and catching each monkey is a simple pleasure, and catching them well is always satisfying.
You can switch between gadgets using the face button and the camera controls are located on the cross key. Some of these control decisions are outdated and seem clunky by today’s standards, but they work well. The L1 puts the camera behind the spikes so you can use it when you inevitably have a strange view.
Other gadgets include radar to find monkeys, slingshots to attack targets within range, and hula hoops that act as shields to speed up spikes. I’m grateful that each tool has its own uses, perhaps not at all stages, but there are many reasons to use them throughout the game. You can only equip four at a time, which is also assigned to the face button,[選択]Press to quickly access the entire collection. This is another aspect that really shows the age of the title, but again, it works fine because you don’t need all the gadgets at once.
The gadget drip feed throughout the campaign means that not all monkeys in the level can always be caught on the first visit. In fact, when you reach your quota, the stages will end automatically, and often there are some stages you haven’t found yet. Returning to the previous section with the new equipment, you can reach the new area and catch all those apes. This should be done when the real ending is needed.
Visually, the game is typically PS1 with sharp edges, flickering textures, and heavy use of distance fog. It’s certainly pretty crude, but it still shines with a lot of personality. The colors are really pop, the characters are well stylized, and the monkeys have a symbolic look that is almost lost with more polygons.
The main game is very simple, very easy and not particularly long, so it’s a great palette cleanser. Collect Specter coins at each stage to get different qualities of mini-games. The point is that I make heavy use of analog sticks. Ski Kits Racing controls the skis under each foot of the character, which is difficult to get used to. Controlling a character’s fist individually with Specter Boxing can be equally awkward. Finally, the Galaxy Monkey is a twin stick shoot, probably the best of the three. They are decent extras, but you probably won’t spend that long with them.
Ape Escape may indicate that era in certain respects — control is so much time, mini-games are hits and misses — but it remains a fun and easy-going adventure. It’s still a pleasure to track all monkeys and understand how to catch them, and all spike gadgets are useful on a variety of colorful stages. Full of charm and still quite unique, this is a very simple oldies, but goodies.