Ape Escape Academy

Review

posted 3/2/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP

Ape Escape Academy is not a fun game to play.  Considering that this is an off-shoot of one of Sony's most entertaining properties, it comes as something of a surprise to see how broken Ape Escape Academy is.  On paper it might not seem like a bad idea -- show the training methods of our simian friends (and foes) through non-stop mini games -- but sadly you aren't playing this game on paper, this is a PSP game and it's one you might want to avoid.

We've seen this type of game before, Ape Escape Academy is definitely cribbing off of games like Wario Ware$ on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS.  If you've played through the Wario games then you know that a game full of mini games can be hours of fun, it's a game that gives you almost no time to think between exercises and won't let you put it down.  Unfortunately Ape Escape Academy doesn't reach the same heights as Wario, this is a game that tries as hard as it can but just can't come together to create an entertaining experience.

The problems with Ape Escape are apparent from the first minutes.  In the very first task you are forced to sing a song while marching with your class of apes, you do this by pushing the buttons it tells you, not unlike how you control Parappa the Rapper (and so many other subsequent music games).  But while Parappa was full of style and funny to listen to, Ape Escape Academy feels more like an exercise, and you better believe that I forgot the song the moment it was over.

Anybody can be excused for starting the game off with boring Simon Says-style mini game, but sadly the games found here in Ape Escape Academy aren't very good.  Sony has poisoned the game by offering a list of games that just aren't fun.  It's diverse and sometimes funny (I can't deny it, monkeys make me laugh), but most of the games just aren't worth your time.

Ape Escape Academy is split up into a six year curriculum, each featuring a new instructor made up of bosses from previous Ape Escape titles.  Each year features nine different mini games, three rows of three.  If you win the game you get an "O" in that box, fail and you get an "X", your goal is to match three in a row (be it across, up and down, or diagonally).  Congratulations, now you know how to play both Ape Escape Academy AND Tic-Tac-Toe.

Ape Escape Academy has a total of 45 different mini games, each forcing you to perform some unique task.  You'll be answering trivia questions, counting monkeys, bowling, boxing, fencing, and yes, even juggling.  This sounds like a good recipe for a portable experience, but the developers at Shift manage to undermine nearly every mini game.  Some are entirely too long, others are far too frustrating, and others won't be very clear until you've failed them a few times.

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