Ape Escape (video game)
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||SCE Japan Studio|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Ape Escape, known as Saru! Get You! (サルゲッチュ Saru Getchu?) in Japan, is a platform game developed, produced and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation. Originally released in 1999, it was re-released for the four different best seller versions, the Sony Greatest Hits and Best for Family line-ups in 2000; the Platinum Range in 2001; and the PSone Books line-up in 2005. The game was re-released as a downloadable game via the PlayStation Network in Japan in 2007. Ape Escape is notable as the first video game to require the use of a Dual Analog or DualShock controller for gameplay. A remake, Ape Escape: On the Loose (サルゲッチュP! Saru Getchu P!?), also known as Ape Escape P in Europe, was released for the PlayStation Portable in 2005.
Ape Escape is the first installment in the Ape Escape series, and tells the story of an albino ape named Specter who gains enhanced intelligence and a malevolent streak through the use of an experimental helmet. Specter mass-produces the helmet for the use of an army of apes, which he sends back through time in an attempt to rewrite history. The player character, Spike (Kakeru in the original Japanese version), must travel through time and capture the apes and ultimately Specter himself with the aid of special gadgets.
Ape Escape was met with critical acclaim from professional critics, who praised the innovative use of the dual analog controls and spoke positively of the graphics and music, with minor criticism going to the voice acting.
Ape Escape is a platform game in which the player controls Spike, who must travel through time and capture all of the monkeys, thus preventing them from rewriting history. The controls are centered heavily around the use of the two analog sticks, and thus a Dual Analog or DualShock controller is required for gameplay. The left analog stick is used to move Spike around, with shoulder buttons used for jumping and camera control, whilst the right stick manipulates the various gadgets Spike attains throughout the game. The game also makes use of the L3 and R3 buttons, which are used by pressing down the respective analog sticks. These control schemes are omitted from the PlayStation Portable remake in favor of traditional controls due to the handheld's lack of a second analog stick.
Spike begins the game with his primary gadgets, the Stun Club and Time Net, which are used by pushing the right analog stick in the direction the player wishes to swing them. The Stun Club is used as an offensive measure against enemy characters and to temporarily stun monkeys, while the Time Net is used to capture monkeys and send them back to the present day. As the player progresses, Spike will earn new gadgets, each with their own control schemes, which are explained in a mandatory training level when they are earned. Examples include a slingshot, which has players pull back on the analog stick to aim and release to fire, the propeller, which lets players reach higher areas by twirling the analog stick like a helicopter, and the R/C car which can be freely controlled with the right analog stick. Players can equip four of these gadgets at a time, which can be switched in real-time using the four face buttons. Additionally, there are vehicles such as a rubber raft and a tank, which requires the use of both analog sticks to control, and the water net, which helps Spike swim underwater and can also fire monkey capturing nets.
The monkeys are equipped with Pipo Helmets which feature a siren that represents their current alarm level. A blue siren represents they are relaxed and unaware of the player's presence, yellow means they are alert and red means they are fully alarmed and will either try to run away or become hostile. Players can sneak up on some monkeys by crawling up to them using the L3 button. A monkey's personality is often determined by the color of shorts it is wearing. For normal monkeys, yellow shorts represent standard monkeys, light blue shorts represent timid monkeys and red shorts represent aggressive monkeys. There are also monkeys that are equipped with either long range weaponry, which can prove to be dangerous, or binoculars that let them spot the player from far away. Upon entering a stage for the first time, players will have a specified number of monkeys to capture in order to progress to the next stage, the exception being levels in which a boss character will appear. After a level has been cleared once, the player may revisit that level to capture any monkeys they may have missed, some of which will require gadgets obtained in later levels.
Spike's health is represented by cookies, losing a life if he takes too many hits, falls down a bottomless pit or spends too long underwater. The player can earn extra lives by collecting 100 chips or 1-Up shirts. Throughout the game, players can gather Specter Coins, which can be found in hidden locations in each stage, or by beating Spike's rival, Buzz, in bonus stages taking place between certain eras. Collecting enough Specter Coins unlocks three bonus mini-games; Ski Kidz Racing, Galaxy Monkey and Specter Boxing, which are playable for up to two players. Ski Kidz Racing is a skiing game in which players race against other opponents, Galaxy Monkey is a shoot 'em up where players fight against aliens, and Specter Boxing is a boxing game where players dodge and punch using the analog sticks. In the PSP version, Galaxy Monkey is replaced by two new minigames, Ape Ping Pong, a simple table tennis game, and Buzz Attacks, which are the same as the bonus Buzz stages, whilst Ski Kidz Racing is altered into Snow Kidz Racing, using snowboarding instead of skiing.
Character names are taken from the UK version of the game with their names in the American, Japanese or remake versions bracketed where applicable
The story begins when Specter, a white-haired monkey at a monkey park, puts on an experimental 'Peak Point Helmet' (Pipo Helmet for short) created by a Professor, which increases his intelligence beyond that of a regular monkey, but also twists his mind, turning him evil. Imbued with this new power, Specter gives Pipo Helmets to all the monkeys in the park and sets them loose, having them take over the local laboratory where the Professor and his assistant Katie (Natalie/Natsumi) are currently building a time machine. As Spike (Kakeru) and his best friend Buzz (Jake/Hiroki) arrive at the laboratory, they find themselves transported by Specter, along with all the other monkeys, to the various reaches of time. Realising that leaving the monkeys to their own devices could rewrite history in disastrous ways, the Professor tasks Spike with finding all of the monkeys scattered across time and sending them back to the present. However, Spike must also face off against Specter, who has not only built himself an advanced Peak Point Helmet further increasing his own intelligence, but has also brainwashed Buzz to his side. After a lengthy series of captures and battles in segments of history ranging from the roam of the dinosaurs, medieval times and present day, Spike is eventually able to capture all of the apes. Spike chases Specter to his deranged theme park, where he is holding a recently captured Professor, Katie, and his friend Buzz. Spike frees Buzz of his and releases both the professor and Katie, and goes on to find Specter in an alternative universe he calls the "Peak Point Matrix". Spike defeats Specter after a final battle, and he is captured and sent back to the zoo.
Ape Escape is the first video game to require the use of the Dual Analog Controller for gameplay. The music of the game was composed by Soichi Terada. The game's sound effects were created by Masaaki Kaneko, while the sound effects in the game cinematics were provided by Masatoshi Mizumachi. The voice acting of the American version of the game was recorded at Dubey Tunes Studios in San Francisco, California, with Sara Holihan serving as the voiceover director and Hunter A. Pipes III serving as the voiceover producer. The American voice cast consists of Scott MacGregor as Spike, Peter Bayhem as Jake, Michael Sousa as the Professor, Pete Burrows as Specter, Christiane Crawford as Natalie, Peggy Small as Casi, and Susan Michele as additional characters. The game is compatible with the PocketStation application. On-air promotions for Ape Escape were held on Cartoon Network during Sony Computer Entertainment America's winter holiday marketing campaign of 1999.
Ape Escape was met with critical acclaim upon its release. Game Informer ranked it at 100 on its best games of all-time list in 2001; the staff praised it for its gameplay and high level of innovation. Official PlayStation Magazine praised the game's "creative" use of the DualShock, describing the game as an "awesome platformer". Doug Perry of IGN declared Ape Escape to be "the best 3D platform game on the PlayStation. Hands down." He went on to say that the game is "not only innovative, it digs deep into the analog control's inherent movements and brings out a breadth of fantastic gameplay elements that are unique to the game." Scott Alan Marriott of AllGame (All Game Guide at the time) described the game as "one of the most enjoyable 3D platform games to swing onto the PlayStation in quite some time" and "one of the most innovative." Peter Bartholow of GameSpot named the game "one of the best 3D platformers to date, brimming with innovation, originality and fun." Electronic Gaming Monthly, in their January 2004 issue, referred to Ape Escape as "the amazing 3D action game that made capturing monkeys popular again."
The game's graphics were met with mostly good comments. Doug Perry of IGN, in a mostly indifferent review of the visuals, said that the textures "aren't terribly stunning" and the character design was "rather fundamental". He described the art style as "cartoony" and "simplistic" and considered the design to be "extremely crude and simple" compared to that of the then-upcoming Sonic Adventure. However, he singled out the special effect for capturing an ape as "awesome" and cited that the "mixture of transparent lights, designed in rings and coupled with sparks (generated from a nice particle system), and a quickly moving camera, create a fantastic and gratifying effect." Scott Alan Marriott of AllGame noted the "distinct Japanese style" of the graphics and mentioned that the main character Spike "has spiked hair and looks like he should be a member of the Speed Racer team." He added that the environments were "fun", but suffered from some pop-up and other minor glitches. Peter Bartholow of GameSpot considered the game to be "a sight to behold" and noted the size, detail and color of the environments. Bartholow also mentioned the "strong, brilliant coding" that allowed for a long horizon while maintaining a consistent frame rate.
Reception of the game's audio was mainly positive, with some criticism going to the voice acting. Doug Perry of IGN described the soundtrack as "a weird concoction of J-Pop and techno-style synth" that is "more Japanese than Western", and noted that the "poppy tunes" were catchier than the "techno tunes". While referring to Spike's voice as "nothing special", Perry described the apes' screeches and vocalizations as "funny and lovable". Scott Alan Marriott of AllGame commended the authenticity of the ape vocalizations and noted the appropriateness of the music to the settings. On the subject of the game's voice acting, Marriott said that it "leaves something to be desired" and singled out the character Jake as "[sounding] like he has a serious cold." Pete Bartholow of GameSpot referred to the "playful techno" soundtrack as "stage-appropriate" and noted its "mildly interactive" nature in that some of the music's instruments are muted when the player character moves stealthily. While considering the sound effects "nice", he described the voice acting as "uniformly atrocious".
The staff of IGN included Ape Escape in an article documenting the "greatest PlayStation 3D platformers ever". The staff of IGN also included it as #8 in their "Top 25 PlayStation Games of All Time". In the final issue of Official UK PlayStation Magazine, the game was chosen as the 9th best game of all time. The IGN PlayStation Team included the game as #8 in their "Top 10 Classics that Belong on the PSN".
Reviews for Ape Escape: On the Loose, the PlayStation Portable remake of Ape Escape, were mixed to positive. Play Magazine considered the game to be the most "basic visually" of the PlayStation Portable launch titles, but also found it to be the "most entertaining", and concluded with "Once a great game, always a great game." Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot lamented the loss of the "finely tuned control that made the first game such a hit," but felt that the game "still has considerable charm." David Chapman of GameSpy said that "although it has a few noticeable flaws, there's nothing so bad that game stops being a lot of fun to play. At worst, it just gets a little frustrating at times." Juan Castro of IGN warned that "fans of the series will probably miss the second analog stick, but having gadgets mapped to the PSP's face buttons works well, just not as well as before, and definitely not as intuitive." Game Informer described the game as "merely a slightly annoying, if charming, run-of-the-mill platformer."
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 4-5
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 9
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 6-7
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 14-15
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 16-17
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 8
- Douglass Perry (June 7, 1999). "Ape Escape - PlayStation Preview at IGN". IGN. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
- Levi Buchanan (May 2, 2008). "DualShock's 10th Anniversary". IGN. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
The first PlayStation game to require the DualShock was Ape Escape in 1999.
- Ann and Hanshaw, p. 18-19
- IGN Staff (October 14, 1999). "Sony Commences Million Dollar Campaigns". IGN. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
On air promotions include Fox Kids Network (for Spyro Ripto's Rage), Time Warner Inc.'s Kids WB channel (Um Jammer Lammy) and Cartoon Network (Ape Escape).
- Scott Alan Marriott. "Ape Escape - Review - allgame". Allgame. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
One of the most enjoyable 3D platform games to swing onto the PlayStation in quite some time. It's also one of the most innovative.
- "Ape Escape Critic Reviews for PlayStation at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- プレイステーション - サルゲッチュ. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.8. 30 June 2006.
- "Ape Escape: On the Loose Critic Reviews for PSP at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- Peter Bartholow (June 18, 1999). "Ape Escape for PlayStation Review - PlayStation Ape Escape Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
One of the best 3D platformers to date, brimming with innovation, originality and fun.
- Jeff Gerstmann (March 24, 2005). "Ape Escape: On the Loose for PSP Review - PSP Ape Escape: On the Loose Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 11 January 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
The finely tuned control that made the first game such a hit seems to have been lost in translation, but the game still has considerable charm.
- David Chapman (March 28, 2005). "GameSpy: Ape Escape: On the Loose Review". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
Although it has a few noticeable flaws, there's nothing so bad that game stops being a lot of fun to play. At worst, it just gets a little frustrating at times.
- Doug Perry (June 23, 1999). "IGN: Ape Escape Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
The best 3D platform game on the PlayStation. Hands down. It's not only innovative, it digs deep into the analog control's inherent movements and brings out a breadth of fantastic gameplay elements that are unique to the game.
- Juan Castro (March 24, 2005). "IGN: Ape Escape: On the Loose Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
Fans of the series will probably miss the second analog stick, but having gadgets mapped to the PSP's face buttons works well, just not as well as before, and definitely not as intuitive.
- "Ape Escape Reviews". Game Rankings. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- "Ape Escape: On the Loose Reviews". Game Rankings. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
- "Game Informer's Top 100 Games Of All Time (Circa Issue 100)". Game Informer. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
- IGN Staff (July 15, 1999). "The Greatest PlayStation Games Ever: 3D Platformers - PSX Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
- IGN Staff (June 8, 2000). "Top 25 Games of All Time: #6-10 - PSX Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
- Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 108, page 28, Future Publishing, March 2004
- IGN PlayStation Team (October 1, 2008). "Top 10 Classics that Belong on the PSN - PS3 Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
- Carol Ann and Neil Hanshaw (1999). Ape Escape Instruction Booklet. Sony Computer Entertainment.