Ubi Soft saves the day by bringing the monkey-tastic PlayStation 2 game to the US.
Game development and design have been evolving since the first collection of pixels moved around on a monocolor screen nearly three decades ago, and as you'd expect, a few "natural laws" have been uncovered during that evolution. One such law is you can never go wrong with monkeys. Whether they're threatening plumbers, fighting among themselves, dancing with maracas, or flinging psychic feces at us, monkeys improve a title simply by being in it. And while the amusing apes are always welcome members of a game's cast, it's always a treat to see the little guys score their own game. The latest monkey-centric title to grace a console is Ubi Soft's upcoming Ape Escape 2, a game that very nearly didn't make it to the US. The sequel to the 1999 PlayStation platformer Ape Escape, Ape Escape 2 was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan last year. Unfortunately, Sony of America opted not to localize the game for North America. But, as luck would have it, Ubi Soft swooped in, possibly on a vine, and snatched the title up. We recently checked out a preview build of Ape Escape 2 to see how the monkeys' localized shenanigans are coming together.
For the uninitiated, the Ape Escape games pit you against a simian army led by Specter, an albino chimp who's smarter than your average monkey and who really gets surly when furnished with a special brain-power-enhancing helmet. Unfortunately, this is just what happens at the beginning of Ape Escape 2, when the main character, Jimmy, accidentally mixes such helmets up with an order of pants set for delivery to Monkey Park. The end result? Pants-wearing supermonkeys in Specter's thrall who must be stopped.
The gameplay in Ape Escape 2 roughly follows the structure of the original. You'll be required to capture a set number of monkeys in a level to move on to the next one, and you'll be able to return to levels you've already completed to catch every monkey in them. In addition to capturing monkeys, you'll be collecting gold coins, which you can use in a vending machine in the game's main hub to collect items. You'll also find a minigame corner where you can play the minigames you unlock and an entertainment center where you can view monkey and level data. As you progress through the game, you'll acquire more gadgets and have a chance to try them out before moving on to the next level. The game's learning curve is about as mild as the original's, keeping things basic in the early levels so you can accustom yourself to each new gadget you receive.