Ape Academy PSP
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Release Date: Out Now
Ape Academy, an introduction.
Every console needs a party game that offers a collection of mini-games for everyone to enjoy. The first such title for the Sony PSP is Ape Academy. Ape Academy takes those cheeky monkeys from the Ape Escape games and throws them into all kinds of bizarre mini-games. In theory, at least, it should be a recipe for success.
What's the game about?
Ape Academy has 3 main modes, Academy Mode, VS. mode and Minigame Collection where you can replay/practice those mini-games that you've unlocked in Academy Mode. VS. mode allows for shared and Ad hoc wireless multiplayer games. Academy Mode is where you'll spend most of your time as this is where you'll unlock the mini-games which can then be played in the multiplayer modes. There are six different levels in Academy Mode (each level has its own mini-games) and in each level you'll attempt to create a line or two of 'O's on the 3x3 grid of squares. Each square is a mini-game and successfully completing a mini-game will place an 'O' in the square whilst failing a mini-game will earn an 'X'.
What's good about the game?
I have to admit it's difficult to be positive about Ape Academy. Visually the game looks good and I suppose it's good to see that the game simply isn't a Mario Party clone with the usual board game scenario to link the mini-games together. It's also good to see that the VS. mode supports multiple players on the same PSP as well as the usual Ad hoc wireless mode. In fact the game is much more palatable as a multiplayer experience than a single-player one. When it comes to the mini-games though there are only a few that you'll enjoy, which is disappointing.
What's not so good about the game?
A party game is only as good as the mini-games that it contains. Sadly most of the mini-games in Ape Academy are just mediocre and the game just isn't as good as it could have been. For every good mini-game such as Air Hockey or Salvage (a game where you have to lower your monkey into the water and navigate the rocks and currents to collect the treasure on the sea bed) there are a handful of terrible ones such as Monkey Dodgeball, 1.00m Dash, Simian Suplex and Monkey Football that are simply uninteresting. The control in some of the mini-games feels rather lethargic too. Load times are another negative aspect of the game with every game and mode taking what seems like an age to load. In fact the 1.00m Dash game takes much longer to load than it does to play, which is just silly. The game also wants to save at virtually every possible opportunity even when there's no need to. There are only a few games that allow the use of the analogue stick, which seems a strange decision.
How does it look?
Graphically Ape Academy looks good and the graphics are definitely what you would expect from the PSP. The developers decided to use a bright palette for the game and the colours certainly look vivid on the clear PSP screen. That said though, some will probably feel the game could have been more detailed instead of the cartoon-like appearance that has been adopted.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers shouldn't have any problems with Ape Academy. On running the Academy Mode for the first time you're greeted with a small tutorial which is subtitled. All other speech and instructions are shown in text too which is great. What I should mention though is that the game descriptions can be a little vague at times and certain games will have to be played a few times before you figure out exactly what needs to be done.
Whilst there are some problems with Ape Academy, such as the long loading times, the main disappointment with the game are the copious amounts of sub-standard mini-games. As a multiplayer experience Ape Academy fares better although there's still nothing particularly special about the game. For the single player there's definitely little to get excited about and the game is without a doubt the worst launch title for the PSP that we've seen.
Overall Game Rating: 4.5/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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If you get the chance to experience the multiplayer side of the game it can be quite entertaining but as a single player experience it's simply not up to scratch.