Ape Escape 2
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
I don't know what it is about Monkey's and games but it always seems to make for one hell of a good mix. The Secret of Monkey Island (and it's sequels) Super Monkey Ball and of course Ape Escape on the PSone. All these games have been brilliant and here we have Ape Escape 2 the sequel to the PSone classic, Ape Escape. Essentially a platformer, Ape Escape 2 is a game all the family can enjoy and with thanks to clever design it's a game you're going to want to play again and again.
In Ape Escape 2 you play Hikaru. The Professor has asked Hikaru to transport some Monkey Pants to the monkeys in Monkey Park. It becomes obvious from the opening cutscene that Hikaru is not the brightest button on the block and despite the Professor warning him about being careful with the transporter, he not only transports the Monkey Pants but also some Peak-Point Helmets to Monkey Park. These helmets boost the monkey's intelligence and help them to get up to all kinds of mischief. It's gets worse though. The evil Specter, or white monkey as Hikaru calls him, has obtained one of these transported helmets. Specter is an evil influence on the monkeys and he must be stopped. When Natsumi, the female assistant of the Professor finds out what has happened she goes crazy at Hikaru and tells him that he must bring back all the helmets and monkeys. This is where you come in.
Hikaru must travel to 20 locations in his quest to collect all the monkeys. To aid you in your quest to recover the helmets and the monkeys you have a collection of gadgets that will prove to be invaluable. As well as the hoops, nets and clubs that were available to you in the original Ape Escape there are some new gadgets that will prove extra useful. These include the water pistol which puts out fires, the banana boomerang ( which attracts the monkeys with it's banana smell) and the magnetor which has a strong attraction to metal objects. As in Ape Escape, excellent use is made of the right analogue stick to control these gadgets. The control system can seem a little awkward at first but soon becomes second nature once you've spent time in the Gadget trainer which allows you to practice using the gadgets outside of the levels. There is also the chance for Hikaru to drive vehicles in certain levels, robots, snowmobiles and submarines are all yours for the taking.
To add extra value to the game the developers have added some mini-games and a special feature that makes playing Ape Escape 2 a second time a different experience. Throughout the levels are Gotcha chips. Collecting these chips will allow you to obtain items from the Gotcha Box. These items include such things as cinema tickets, items that you can use in the game and mini-games. There are three mini-games in all. Monkey Football, Monkey Tightrope and Dancing Bon. The mini-games are great with Monkey Football being my particular favourite. When you've completed the game and attempt to play through a second time you are given a Hikaruscope to help you. This allows you to see things that were not visible to you the first time around and also to obtain the Monkey Punch weapon. On completing the game a second time you are allowed a third attempt at the game using Kakeru, the hero from the first game.
Graphically Ape Escape 2 really shines. The PlayStation 2 is now a mature platform and it's obvious that certain developers have learnt how to maximise it's potential. The graphics are clear, vibrant and very pleasant to look at. The animation of the characters is also top stuff too. You can see from the screenshots just how good it looks and the best news of all is that there is now slowdown at all. There is even a 16:9 screen ration option for those of you with widescreen TVs.
Deaf gamers can rest easy because Ape Escape 2 is subtitled. The cutscenes are not enabled by default but this can be rectified by activating them in the options menu. The subtitles are clear and very easy to read. It's great that deaf gamers can enjoy the cutscenes because they are actually quite funny. All tutorial messages from Natsumi are also given in text as well as speech so there are no problems in learning to play the game. The only speech which wasn't subtitled is after a mission where Natsumi will say 'Well Done!'. On the early missions you'll find telephones that you can gain advice from Natsumi. The red ones will ring but the handset will also jump up and down to indicate that it is ringing. The developers appear to have made the game very deaf gamer friendly.
Ape Escape 2 is an absolute cracker of a game. It's not your usual kind of 3D platformer and the control system can seem peculiar until you're familiar with it but the gameplay has a good balance to it and with the mini-games and with the built in incentive to complete the game several times you really are going to be playing this one for ages.
Game Rating: 9.0/10