I'm not going dispute Dale or anyone else about how innovative the control scheme is. Ape Escape brilliantly incorporates the Dual Shock controller much the same way Super Mario 64 did with the Nintendo 64 controller, but my praise ends there. I was surprised at how the developers basically betrayed themselves by not sticking with the very innovative concept of controlling the net using the analog stick.

Most successful games build a game around a solid concept. Ape Escape instead builds lots and lots of concepts around a game. Functions and techniques are continuously tacked on, forcing excessive amounts of tutorials and keeping their application on a very shallow level, which in turn distanced my involvement. A good game will usually allow me learn a more limited number of skills, but invested development into those same skills breeds immersion. Ape Escape, on the other hand, piles on so many different techniques that not only did it make the controls difficult for me to grasp, but I never felt involved either.

Even worst is that the developers have created a very bland world, visually and conceptually, for players to interact with. It's as though all the resources were poured into creating innovative uses for the Dual Shock controller while all the other aspects, from character design to level design, seem shamelessly 'borrowed' from other games. In fact, if you squint hard enough, the game begins to looks like Mario chasing Diddy Kong with a net while being helped by Dr. White and Roll! All of the game's control innovations are ultimately wasted on this decisively unoriginal and uninteresting world.

On a more personal note, I had issues with the idea of clubbing a monkey and then netting it. The monkeys are supposed to be evil because the story says so, but once in the stage, they seemed like they were just minding their own business like most animals do. I must say, it felt a little unsavory to physically violate them as you are instructed. After all, don't virtual monkeys have civil rights too? Oh well, let's just hope that Jane Goodall never catches wind of this. Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui
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