Review: Ape Escape 2 (PS4)

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Title: Ape Escape 2
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.77 GB) / DVD Disc
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Original PS2 Release Date: June 30, 2003
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Ape Escape 2 is also available on PlayStation 2.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I missed out on the crazy monkeys wreaking havoc on the PlayStation 2. I just never got round to trying any of the games in the series and now after all these years, thanks to the PS2 on PS4 ports, I am lucky enough to right that wrong.

Gameplay:
After the short madcap introduction to the game that explains why you are capturing the crazy monkeys, you quickly set off into the first area with a trusty net and what looks like a cattle prod. You will gather more gadgets and gizmos that help to track and capture the various types of mischievous monkey, but the stun club and net do most of the work.

The right analog stick is used to control the many items and the directional pad controls the camera, this is my biggest gripe with the game. Ape Escape 2 was released over decade and a half ago and controls have come a long way since. Today’s games have moved on from that archaic control scheme and I have trouble acclimatizing to it.

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Not that Ape Escape 2 is unplayable, far from it in fact. The camera mostly does a good job of tracking your character as you creep, sprint, and slip on banana peels while on the hunt for the elusive primates. They bolt as soon as they spot you, so being sneaky or quick is paramount.

The silly simians can hide in a variety of places, and while you can hunt for them using the tracker, I found it easier and quicker to simply smash all of the boxes and check every room. Some try to disguise themselves or wear protective clothing so a quick jolt with a few volts opens them up to capture.

… manually saving the game …
The game never seemed too difficult and it’s definitely suitable for a younger gamer, especially with the little flying helper that gives advice at every turn. Viewing a monkey with the tracker brings up a wealth of information that helps to identify its mood, hunger, and alertness. It gives some humorous anecdote too so it’s worth checking for a giggle and to help in its capture.

You can spend the gold coins you collect on the Gotcha Box, which is similar to the ever-popular Gashapon. From this virtual vending machine, you could win anything from minigames to jukebox music, concept artwork, and more. It adds a small amount to the replay value but some of the blind-boxes have some peculiar prizes.

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Because this is still a PS2 game under the bonnet, you’ll have to abide by the old rules like manually saving the game and pressing Start and Select which is the left and right side of the touch pad respectively.

The crazy oddball bosses add some spice and variety to the action and capturing every monkey will take some doing. You will have scour every inch of the wacky themed levels and uncover all their secrets.

… it’s still charming and refreshing …
Visuals:
This old PlayStation 2 game looks good on the current system. The conversion makes the simple cartoony graphics nice and smooth with only the occasional hint of aliasing. The monkeys are the stars of the show and are often comical and funny.

Audio:
The game is chock-full of happy and jolly voice work that accompanies equally cheerful music and sound effects. I was surprised to find the yells and cackles of the rascally monkeys not at all grating or annoying, instead it was the grunts of the hero as he swipes the net which began to irk.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem. The dusty old outdated controls bothered me to a small degree but once I got stuck in, Ape Escape 2 became a real treat to play. It’s such a silly premise and utterly bonkers but it’s still charming and refreshing. You don’t get many games like this nowadays.

I hope to see more of these games ported over to the PlayStation 4 and with any luck an entirely new experience, maybe even in PlayStation VR. Now wouldn’t that be crazy.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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