Curious George Hands-On

We get our first look at the PS2 version of Monkey Bar Games' upcoming action adventure game.


At a Namco press event in San Francisco this evening, we got our first look at the PlayStation 2 version of Curious George, an action adventure game starring the world's favorite monkey that's based closely on the upcoming movie of the same name. The game, which is also in development for the PC, Xbox, GBA, and GameCube, will see you assuming the titular role of George, who, true to his name, is as curious (and mischievous) as they come.

The first thing you'll notice about Curious George, as we did, is that the game has a very clean cartoon-style look about it that's totally appropriate for the subject matter. You'll also notice that George is every bit as agile as you'd expect a monkey to be, and so he's able to climb on things, swing from things, crawl under and through things, double-jump from thing to thing, and, of course, cause mischief with things. As you progress through the game, you'll actually be rewarded for being mischievous--but in a nice way, of course. Items or "curious objects" that you can interact with in the game will be highlighted by a question mark icon when you approach them, at which point you'll push a button to get to watch George do his thing. We witnessed George pulling all the clothes out of a trunk and opening the lid of a fish tank before he even got out of the first room at tonight's event. Little monkey!

Your reward for causing mischief in the game is currency, which you'll get to spend on unlockable items, such as costumes for George to dress up in. Causing mischief isn't George's only goal in life, of course, as he also likes to collect bananas (which serve as a bread-crumb trail through some levels) and, most importantly of all, is attempting to save the museum at which the friendly "Man with the Yellow Hat" is employed. An evil gentleman named Junior, it seems, wants to demolish the museum to make room for a parking garage, and it's up to George to foil his plans.

The level of the game that we got to see at tonight's event took place in the museum, where George had been locked inside an office. After causing a little mischief and collecting a few bananas, we managed to locate and crawl through an air vent that took us in to the corridor outside. From the corridor we were able to visit a number of locations, including an interactive woolly mammoth and a pterodactyl exhibit (pushing buttons made the dinosaurs move so that George could use them as platforms for jumping to and fro), and a darkened passageway that was protected by laser grids that occasionally blinked on and off in places. Progressing through the museum without being spotted by Junior was essentially the goal of the level, and although George can't actually die (the game is aimed at 6-12-year-olds), he can get locked in the office again, which will mean starting the level from scratch.

The Curious George game will feature a total of 12 levels, and although the museum was the only one we got to explore on this occasion, we were told that other locales will include the jungles and villages of Africa (where the Man with the Yellow Hat first meets George), a cargo ship, and the streets of New York. We were also told about some of the minigames that you'll get to play as you progress, including a firefly-catching rhythm action game and a Frogger-style sequence that sees George jumping on villagers' head baskets.

Further information on Curious George is scarce at present, presumably because Namco and Universal don't want to give too much away about the upcoming movie. We can tell you that the game will be released one week ahead of the movie on February 4, though, and that it will feature a number of cutscenes from the movie in between levels. We can also tell you that Namco wants Will Ferrell to provide the voice talent for the Man with the Yellow Hat just like he does in the movie, although nothing has been confirmed at this time. We'll bring you more information on Curious George as soon as it becomes available.

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