My view: 'Ape Escape 3'
By Jeffrey Davis
Special to The Advertiser
By Jeffrey Davis
Game: "Ape Escape 3"
Console: PlayStation 2
Developer/publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Number of players: 1 (2 playable characters, a boy and a girl)
Rated: E, for everyone 10 and older
The premise: The evil monkey Specter is at it again. This time, he has teamed up with a human, Dr. Tomoki, to devise Specter TV, broadcasting shows so bad they turn people into mindless couch potatoes. The two previous heroes, Spike and Jimmy, are now among the potato elite and need to be replaced. It's up to the twins Kei and Yumi to save the day and take down Specter.
Game play: "Ape Escape 3" plays a lot like the previous two installments: You use the left analog stick to move and the right analog stick to use your gadgets. The gadgets have been reduced to eight, but this time you have the ability to morph into different characters, from a ninja to a cowboy. Each character has different skills and attacks that must be used to succeed in the game.
Adding to the difficulty: The monkeys are smarter, making them harder to catch, and they also steal your gadgets. For instance, if a monkey grabs your monkey net it can catch you instead and send you out of the level. Another new feature is a shopping area where you can use your gotcha coins to buy items, hint guides and mini games.
The good/bad: The various machines (race car, tank, robot, etc.) scattered throughout the levels are controlled by the analog sticks, which feel awkward and clumsy. These parts in the levels seem to drag on forever and slow down the game's pace considerably. New players to the series might have some difficulty using the analog sticks instead of buttons, but the more you play, the more comfortable it gets.
The morphing adds a bit of creativity by giving you a multitude of ways to get through the levels. An added bonus is that you can film certain scenes with the "Pipo camera" in the levels. Afterward you can view a hilarious monkey movie skit in the shopping area at the Simian Cinema. The shopping area — now you choose what your coins buy — is also a welcome step up from the chance game in "Ape Escape 2."
Tips: In the shopping area, spend your money on replenishing your cookies (energy) and adding to your morph stock, which allows you to morph more times per level. The hint book may not seem like a good item, considering it'll be too late to use most of the tips. On the other hand, the tip books give codes to catch secret monkeys.
My take: This game has actually improved over time. "Ape Escape 3" takes all the stuff you loved from the previous games and tweaks them or leaves them alone. The Simian Cinema is an inventive way of showing the monkeys in an amusing manner. Believe me, you'll need this laugh after being knocked out by the monkeys or caught by them in your own net.
Jeffrey Davis of Honolulu is a video-game enthusiast.