King Kong Mobile E3 2005 First Look

We get a first peek at Gameloft's monster monkey at E3.


Lord of the Rings fans waiting with bated breath for Peter Jackson's next project won't have to wait much longer. Jackson's remake of the classic monster movie King Kong is due around the holidays, as is Gameloft's rollicking side-scrolling action game of the same name. We only saw a single level of the game at Gameloft's booth, but that was more than enough to impress us. As the old adage goes, "If an ape's large enough, even a small piece of it amounts to a big deal." Or something like that.

Gameloft's take on the King Kong story has taken the form of a side-scrolling action adventure. The level the company demoed cast the player as the prodigious primate himself: a huge enraged ball of fur that leaps around his jungle kingdom with surprising agility. Kong took up a good 90 percent of the screen on the test handset, a Motorola V300, and Gameloft is pulling off the sense of scale very effectively. For instance, the screen shakes when Kong lands one of his leaps, and he even rumbles a bit when he's lumbering along. Next to Kong, the terrified humans looked like they were about the size of Barbie dolls.

In this particular level, though, Kong had bigger fish to fry: Several gangs of dinosaurs attacked him from both sides of the screen. Here's where we learned that King Kong is, as they say, ice cold. He beat the living daylights out of one dino after another with wicked-looking combos, which usually culminated with Kong wringing a lizard's neck like a dishrag and then unceremoniously discarding it. A dino then jumped on Kong's back, which really wasn't a good idea either. The ape reached back like he was scratching an itch, grabbed the offender, and literally slam-dunked him into the ground, killing him instantly. If Kong's low on health, he can snack on the limp bodies of his opponents for a quick pick-me-up. He's also got a blue "rage meter" that, once filled, lets him full-body-press his opponents before turning them into deadly projectiles. A bigger dinosaur, one that was about Kong's size and had far more health than the other dino pests, served as a midlevel boss. Here, Kong showed off a special combat move, which consisted of prying open the monster's jaws until the hinges snapped, dealing a large amount of damage. After this, Kong performed his signature taunt, pounding his chest and howling like a banshee. All these animations were so amazing that we felt like we were watching a living, breathing entity throughout.

There's more to King Kong than combat, however. For one thing, the game tells the movie's entire story, so you'll have to play as the human protagonist in some levels. Reverting to a relatively frail human form after playing Kong is kind of like driving out of the Ferrari dealership in a Geo Metro. Instead of the King, you're just some poor schlub. Consequently, you'd better change your play style accordingly. We weren't able to witness one of these levels, but this dynamic should certainly add variety to King Kong's gameplay. Furthermore, even the Kong levels mix things up a lot. Once you make friends with the lovely female protagonist, Ann, you'll have to chaperone her through a number of hazardous situations. Ann's fragile and moves of her own volition, although you can scoop her up and have her sit on your shoulder when climbing vines and such. There are also frequent minigames where you'll have to pave the way for Ann. For instance, you may have to tap the action key rapidly to uproot a tree, thus turning it into an Ann-sized bridge over a river (which Kong can just leap over).

In all, King Kong was of the most impressive games we've seen at E3 so far. We were hoping for a more extended look at the game at the show, but it was clear that Gameloft didn't want to show its hand in one go. We're pretty confident we'll get one in the next couple of months, though, so keep your browser glued here for more information.

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