PSN Review – PlayStation Move Ape Escape

The first Ape Escape game was released on the original PlayStation, and ushered in a revolution, showcasing the Dualshock’s twin analog sticks in a marvellous way. Now, twelve years after that initial game, Sony has enlisted the venerable monkeys as another technical showcase. But does the Move-required game have enough gusto to usher in a new wave of gamers?

PlayStation Move Ape Escape begins with, surprisingly, an animated movie. It shows the monkeys invading the world. Whereas most Ape Escape games involve the monkeys up to some sort of mischief, this time around they are dropping in via UFOs. There’s the occasional cutscene between levels, which includes anime-style animations and voicework. The story involves two girls and their search for their missing grandmother. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again you don’t typically play an Ape Escape game for its intense story.

Ape Escape has two main modes of play – Story and Mini Games. There are 16 levels, and every single one is entirely on rails. You have a handful of tools at your disposal, depending on if you are in an action segment or capture segment. While moving (again, entirely on rails), you can use a slingshot to attack UFOs and monkeys as well as shoot bananas, which are used for both points and as a life gauge. You also have access to a fan, used to counter things thrown at you and to hit bigger obstacles out of the way. When stationary, you have access to the same slingshot, but also the series’ iconic net used to scoop up the monkeys. As mentioned, the whole game is entirely on rails. The monkeys come at you when you are stationary, and you can at least rotate your view with the X and circle buttons.

While the accuracy of these tools is impressive thanks to the PlayStation Move controller, ultimately the game is incredibly shallow. Every single level plays out the same way, with only the setting changing as you progress through the game. Once you’ve played one level, you’ve played most of what Ape Escape has to offer, with the only exception being repetitive bosses. This game will only take a few short hours to complete, and this definitely does not feel like a true Ape Escape game.

This game is most assuredly targeted towards kids. The gameplay is repetitive, the story is minimal, and the graphics are average at best. The few tools you have at your disposal are surprisingly accurate, and the cutscenes are a nice touch. Some of the minigames are entertaining, but much like the main story mode once you play one level the rest are more or less the same. At $10 this would be an okay sell, but at the current asking price of $20 there are plenty of other downloadable games that are worth it. If you’re thinking of buying this for some children, they may be better off just playing the demo.

Ape Escape is in a sorry state these days. What happened to the groundbreaking game that showed us 3D platforming could be done well with two analog sticks? Why isn’t this more of a showcase of the PlayStation Move? We need a game that plays more like a traditional Ape Escape game – good fun with multiple tools. This should have been a game using the Navigation or DualShock controller to move you around, and the Move controller used for moving the camera and attacking. Instead we receive a game that has shovelware written all over it. It’s a shame where the series has headed lately, and fans should skip out on PlayStation Move Ape Escape altogether.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Your tools are very accurate thanks to the PlayStation Move…

– …But these tools are severely limited.

– Game is incredibly short, seems like an incomplete product.

5 out of 10