Ape Escape 2

Ape Escape 2

Finally! The monkeys have a home, and it's with Ubi Soft. Hands-on impressions inside.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: May 20, 2003
Sometimes it's just impossible to figure SCEA out. Sony Computer Entertainment's American wing has made a number of odd publishing decisions since the PlayStation 2 launch, electing to not publish games in the U.S. that were developed and published in other countries by Sony themselves. WipEout Fusion and the Gran Turismo Concept expansions are two such examples of seemingly sure-fire 1st-party releases (it's even odder when you factor in the fact that more copies of Gran Turismo have been sold here in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, and WipEout was one of the defining games for the PlayStation).

Even more puzzling, however, is SCEA's decision to not publish Ape Escape 2, the sequel to the game that all but launched the DualShock controller and opened gamers' eyes to the world of the dual analog stick setup. With the success and utter adoration of the first Ape Escape game, it seemed a given that SCEA would hurry the U.S. conversion to store shelves, but puzzlingly they didn't, and the game sat in limbo for some time, rumored to be published by a number of companies, and a near-brush with a deal with Activision.

The big A's loss is Ubi Soft's gain, it appears, as the game will indeed be arriving here in the U.S., and completely intact, and if monkeys are as beloved as everyone makes them out to be, the game's gonna sell like hotcakes - especially with the game playing (and looking) as good as it does. Oh, and mini-games featuring monkeys really can't hurt things either.

Ape Escape, for the uninitiated, charges Jimmy, a spunky, spiky-haired kid, with the dubious task of capturing hundreds (300 for AE2) of monkeys with a quantum net that will teleport them back to a holding cage once it's brought down upon them. The quantum part of the net, aside from the teleportation aspect, is mainly a catalyst for some nifty special effects and a heavy slathering of motion blur, but it works, just like the rest of the game. Also along for the sequel is Piptochi, a miniature winged monkey (yeah, we found it completely normal too) that helps you out on your adventure by doling out advice from time to time. Odd? You bet. Quirky? Abso-friggin'-lutely, and right at home here.

Though it's not necessary, anyone who played the first game will instantly feel right at home. The controls are identical to their PlayStation counterpart, and again the control feels fantastic. This is again a game that was originally designed to sell the swanky new DualShock controller, and it shows. The left analog stick still controls player movement while the right drops your net wherever you need it, and netting a monkey will not only add it to your collection, but unlocks extras like mini-games, art, and of course an entry into the Monkeypedia.

The mini-games in particular need extra pause simply because they're so well designed, complete with full-on title screens and a plethora of options. Ubi Soft's E3 booth featured a game called Dance Monkey Dance that required to you guide monkeys in kimono to slam into Japanese Taikou drums by pointing the analog sticks in a certain direction. It started out easy, but once things sped up and the directions started going in opposite directions, the difficulty quickly shot up a couple notches.

Ubi Soft isn't doing anything to Ape Escape save for tweaking it for the American audience's taste for difficulty, and obvious English translations, which we think is absolutely perfect. The game is a gem on its own, and any interference into the kooky, adorable world of monkeys gone amuck would just be lessening the experience. Look for Ape Escape 2 this summer, and look for more detailed impressions once we spend a little more time with the game in the office.