Ape Escape 2 takes the “you only had one job” -meme to the next level right at the beginning of the story. The main character Hikaru is left to watch over a laboratory and deliver monkey pants to monkeys in Monkey Park, but he accidentally also sends over monkey helmets, that make the monkeys cause all kinds of trouble, so you have to go clean your mess up and catch them using a monkey net and an arsenal of gadgets.
The game sends you to a variety of colorful levels that have different themes and monkeys to go along with them: a casino, a pirate bay, and a snowy mountain, for example. There are also all kinds of small enemies that drop coins or sometimes cookies for you to regain health. The monkeys range from almost oblivious to fully aware, armed and equipped. There’s even a Monkey Claus carrying a sack of presents, who I will refer to again later on. Before each level you’re given a number of monkeys you have to catch to beat the level. After every three or four levels there’s a battle against a boss monkey that will put your monkey-catching abilities to the test.
Your two most important gadgets are the stun stick, which looks exactly like a lightsaber, and the monkey net. You unlock other useful gadgets, like an RC car, a slingshot, and a sky flyer, that not only help you against the monkeys, but also help you traverse through the levels. For the most part the game’s pretty easy and holds your hand quite a bit. If you’re low on cookies, enemies likely drop cookies and if you’re low on special kind of sling shot ammo, the enemies drop special kind of ammo and possibly cookies.
One thing that I absolutely hate about this game is the camera. It is atrocious. It doesn’t turn with Hikaru, so instead of seeing the action and the monkey that’s about to end your life with a blaster gun, the game thinks you should look at the wall behind Hikaru. There’s a way to reset the camera by pressing L1, and let me tell you, that L1 is going to be hammered more than a mole in a whack-a-mole game in an amusement park.
There are also three mini games. One of them is Monkey Football, and it is so amazing that it should be a standalone game. You build a five-a-side team from the monkeys you’ve caught in the game. All monkeys have different abilities and statistics like speed, shot power, and strength. There’s also different power-ups, 2- and 3-point balls, and a two player versus mode. Monkey Claus, who I mentioned earlier, with a present sack over the shoulder, maximum shot power and seemingly no weakness other than the average speed, might be one of the most overpowered characters ever in a sports video game.
All in all, the game’s pretty fun. Replayability is okay, I guess. After completing the game, you can go back and catch the remaining monkeys that you didn’t or couldn’t get the first time. There’s also a NG+ with harder monkeys and a new character after you catch all the monkeys. But the most fun part for me is the Monkey Football mini game.
Photos are screenshots taken by the author.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Japan Studio
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4
Release date: March 14, 2003 (EU)
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