It's perhaps the one of best damn platform titles I've ever played - holding hands with the likes of Super Mario 64, Jak and Daxter and Klonoa1/2. The original was every bit as awesome, as it was intuitive. Debuting way back in 1999, Ape Escape proved that monkeys and nets made a wonderful mix. Now, 3 years later, Sony has finally unleashed the true sequel to the original wonder.
The concept remains the same as the first -- catch the damn monkeys! The control scheme is virtually identical to the original, with the exception of swimming. Previously, you'd have to press down L3 to dive into the water. Now, you use the right analog stick to dive, by maneuvering the directions. If you were to push Up, Hikaru (the new lead character) will dive. Push down, and he will begin to surface -- so the swimming controls are inverted and work very well. The game features all of the original gadgets (stun club, sky flyer, monkey net, radar, dash-hoop, water net, slingshot, punch glove, R/C car), and a few new gadgets which include a Bananarang, Water Cannon, and Electro Magnet. Some of the vehicles you get to pilot are a submarine, water raft, snow sled, robot, and a tank. The game is roughly 20 hours long, and that's just to breeze through it. Otherwise, I'd estimate it to be a 25 hour title. Needless to say, the game is also extremely addictive. Ape Escape 2 is just tons and tons of fun and is a very warm hearted title. And as previously mentioned, the controls are exactly like the original Ape Escape, so adjusting to AE2 should take absolutely no effort.
The environments in the game are very diverse. They range from nice and sunny islands, to a Spanish village, to a casino, to an icy and snowy field, and etc. The game is incredibly polished, and doesn't display a single jaggy on the screen. At first glance, the game eerily resembles Super Mario Sunshine, with its simplistic but adorable background texture work. The environments are full of lush and vibrant color, almost like something straight out of a Disney flick. While it may not be as technically complex or as dense as Jak and Daxter or Ratchet and Clank, Ape Escape 2's simplicity, art style and charm, make it a very pleasing title to look at it. The game runs at an absolutely perfect 60 frames per second, with not one show of a frame rate drop. Anybody who nit picks about the visuals in AE2 is playing videogames for all the wrong reasons.
Monkeys! Spectre, that diabolical white monkey, has managed to escape by creating his very own brain enhancing helmet. With his escape, he frees all of his fellow monkey cousins (maybe sisters and brothers too?). A total of 300 have escaped, which can only mean one thing...you have 300 monkeys to capture across dozens of stages. You will encounter various boss battles as you progress along the game. And of course, like the first, you can go back and complete each stage with 100%, by capturing the remaining monkeys and whatever other significant objects that are still in the stage. AE2 also has 3 mini-games, including soccer (which is the only one I'm aware of), and you unlock them much like you did in the original.
If you're a frequent importer, go on and grab the game. Ape Escape 2 is one of those games that you'll constantly return to, even after you've played it to death. To this day I play the original, and I plan to do so with the sequel as well. Let's hope the rest of you casual gamers get to see the game later this year in the US. Lastly, all I can say is that one of the best platform titles, has only gotten better. Look for Ape Escape 2 to
7/18/2002 Arnold Katayev