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
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.
The more you play these different mini games the more you
realize how uninspired they really are.
Not only are most of them completely forgettable, but a number of the
games are marred by control issues. Most
of the games found in Ape Escape
Academy are the type
that require you to have fast fingers and quick timing, but the makers of the
game make this almost impossible with sluggish controls and other unfortunate
Another major problem is that the instructions are so vague
that they can hardly be called helpful.
All games get one single line of explanation, hardly enough to teach you
what to do. Generally losing a mini game
wouldn't be that big of a deal, but since it puts a big "X" on the
board it could keep you from moving on in the game. The problem is that you won't just lose once
or twice because of vague instructions, it will happen all the time. If you find yourself losing too many squares and
wanting to start again, you might be surprised to know that you cannot drop out
of this Academy. Once you've signed up
for a year of school you are required to finish it … even if there's no way for
you to graduate to the next level.
Beyond the 45different mini games, Ape Escape Academy offers you four multiplayer games. Two you can play with four other PSP owners
using the wireless Ad Hoc mode, the other two you can play by sharing the
PSP. I don't mean you the other PSP
owners download information from your PSP (like Burnout Legends), when I say you share the PSP I mean it in the
most literal sense. In these games all
of the people involved huddle around a single PSP and get their own set of
buttons. These games are a fun diversion
for a few minutes, but when compared to all the great multiplayer games already
on the PSP they just don't stack up.
Ape Escape Academy
was released in Japan
December of 2004, which might go a long way to explain the game's adequate, but
dated look. If you're a fan of the
platforming Ape Escape games then you'll feel right at home with this games
look and atmosphere. The music sounds
like it has been lifted directly from its console siblings and the simple
graphics are exactly what you would expect from an Ape Escape game. Having said that, there are a few graphical
problems that probably could have been ironed out … especially since it took
them over a year to release the game in the U.S.
The more I played Ape Escape
Academy the more I
questioned why Sony would bring this game out at all. It has terrible controls, uninspired mini
games, an outdated look, and a serious lack of direction. Oh, and did I mention that you can beat the
game in a single afternoon? There aren't
a lot of reasons to enroll your self in Ape Escape
Academy, it doesn't
offer the classes you want and won't help you later in life. There's no need to incur student loans with
this one, this Academy is not worth attending.
If you can get over the game's sluggish controls and short story mode you will still be left with a game that is no fun to play. With uninspired mini games that with either bore you or frustrate you, Ape Escape Academy is one school you might not want to apply to.