Ape Escape is an action/adventure game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment America. The object of the game is to battle and capture monkeys that have gone rampant. It is also the first game to require the Dualshock controller, for it needed the use of both thumb sticks.
There once was a monkey named Specter, who happily performed for humans at the zoo. But one day, the Professor accidentally drops one of his inventions, the Peak Point Helmet (Pipo Helmet). Due to curiosity, Specter tries the helmet on, and gains vast amounts of intelligence, and psychic powers. Now believing that humans treat monkeys cruelly, the megalomaniac Specter vows revenge on humans. He amasses an army of monkeys equipped with similar intelligence-boosting helmets (though less powerful than his own), and storms The Professor's lab. He plans to use the Professor's time machine to go back in time, and make monkeys the dominant species on the planet, instead of humans. Just then, Spike and his friend Jake/Buzz barge into the lab, right before Specter makes the leap back in time. He manages to go back in time anyways, as well as kidnapping Jake/Buzz and turning him into a mind-controlled slave. Aided by the Professor, his assistant/granddaughter Natalie/Katie, and his various gadgets, Spike must now go back in time to save Jake/Buzz, round up the rebellious monkeys, and stop Specter from changing history.
Since the game requires the Dualshock controller, it allows for a very unique control scheme (for its time). The character is moved with the left thumb stick, and attacks are done with the right stick. The R button is used to jump. The face buttons allow the character to select from a large variety of weapons, everything ranging from a laser sword to a remote controlled car. Attacks are done by moving the right stick in the direction you want to attack. There are also certain weapons that require the attack stick to be spun around quickly, such as a electric hula hoop that once spun fast enough will shoot the player forward quickly. This control scheme was incredibly innovative at the time and made the game much more immersive because it allowed the player to feel like they were much more involved in using the items in the game.
The whole point of the game is to stop Specter and his evil monkeys. Your mission is to stun the monkeys with any combination of your items, and then capture them with the gadget known as the Time Net. This net captures the monkeys and sends them back to the present. More Gadgets would be given to you as you progress through the game. The available Gadgets are:
- Time Net - The only Gadget that can capture monkeys (on land). Swing the right analog stick to swing the net.
- Stun Club - A lightsaber-like Gadget that stuns monkeys, and also harms various other enemies. Swing the right analog stick to swing the club.
- Water Net - The only Gadget that can be used underwater. It is automatically switched to when Spike is in water, and can shoot out nets to capture monkeys.
- Monkey Radar - A radar that is used to find monkeys. The closer Spike is to a monkey, the faster and higher-pitched the sound it emits will be. Once close enough, the camera can zoom in on the monkey and display a little bio. Rotating the right analog stick rotates the radar dish.
- Slingback Shooter/Slingshot - A slingshot that stuns monkeys. Can also harm enemies and hit buttons. Can shoot 3 different types of pellets: Normal, Guided, or Explosive. Pull back on the right analog stick to aim, and let go to shoot.
- Super Hoop/Dash Hoop - A hula hoop that gives Spike a speed boost, also allowing him to bowl over enemies. Spin the right analog stick to spin and charge the hoop. Once charged, let go of the stick to activate the boost.
- Sky Flyer - A little handheld propeller that allows Spike to rise up in the air. Spin the right analog stick to spin the Sky Flyer, and give Spike lift. Continuous spinning will not keep Spike airborne, but it will slow his descent.
- RC Car - A remote controlled car that can fit through small holes. Used to hit unreachable buttons, or to draw monkeys out of hiding. The right analog stick controls the car.
- Magic Punch - Obtainable after defeating Specter. An extendable device with what appears to be a boxing glove at the end, it is a powerful Gadget that can destroy boxes and walls that the Stun Club cannot. Tilt the right analog stick slightly for a weak punch, all the way for a strong one.
Each of the gadgets has its own training room which must be completed to obtain it. These rooms can also be accessed in the warp room.
Each monkey has different characteristics and requires different tactics to capture them. For example, some monkeys are sleepy, which allows for an easy capture, while some are energetic, requiring the player to run around after them. Some are aggressive, which means that just running up to them could get you furiously punched, and some simply threw banana peels to make you slip. Some even carry firearms. Items have to be used in certain combinations in order to have the monkeys either be backed into a corner or become available to capture. You can also try going for a stealth approach. The lights on their helmets signify their statuses:
- Blue - The monkey is calm. Nothing is amiss.
- Yellow - The monkey is suspicious and is on alert.
- Red - The monkey is alerted to Spike, and will attempt to run away and/or fight back.
The color of a monkey's pants determines what type of monkey it is. Different strategies are required to catch different monkeys.
- Yellow - Regular monkey. They can hit you, throw banannas to make you slip and sometimes they carry a gun.
- Red - Strong attacker. They fire rockets at you and also carry machine guns.
- Blue - Fast runner. They run really quickly. The dash hoop/super hoop is used to chase them.
- White - Great balance. They don't fall over easily.
- Green - Great vision. They fire rockets at you and are vigilant. They also wear 3D glasses.
- Black - Dangerous and wild. They wear black shades and have machine guns.
- Light Blue - Timid and gentle. Similar to a yellow monkey but less aggressive.
There are 3 mini games available to unlock in the warp room, each of which is unlocked after you collect a certain amount of Specter Tokens.They all make use of the thumb sticks in unique ways.They are:
Ski Kidz Racing
A racing game where you control your character in a skiing race. There are 5 characters to choose from (Spike, Buzz, Katie, the Professor and Monkey) and it is playable in split-screen for 2 players. You use the thumb sticks to control each of your skis individually. You go faster if you line them up correctly and gain additional boost if they are lined up perfectly. 10 Specter coins are required to unlock it.
A boxing game where you fight other monkeys in a championship. There are various monkeys to choose from and you fight in a tournament with each match becoming harder as you progress. The thumb sticks are used to control your monkeys fists. The different positions of the sticks allow for different moves like punching, blocking and swaying. A split-screen mode is also available. 20 specter tokens are needed to unlock it.
A dual joystick shooter where you control a UFO. The left stick moves while the right stick shoots in the direction it is pointed. There is only one weapon but it can be upgraded by collecting P tokens. Enemies include expanding pigs, eyes, brown faces, saucers and steel balls. There is a co-op mode as well as a 3 minute time attack mode. 40 Specter tokens are required to unlock it.
In 2005, an updated port of Ape Escape titled Ape Escape: On the Loose was released for the PSP. It had quite a few control differences, including being able to have only three items at the ready with the Triangle, Circle, and Square buttons as opposed to four on the original version. It changed the title of the level "Wabi Sabi Wall" to "Tiki Tiki Wall". Also instead of a skiing minigame, it was changed to a snowboarding minigame due to a lack of a second analog stick.
The levels in Ape Escape are divided into different time zones.
The Lost Land
- Fossil Fields
- Dinosaur Area
- Thick Jungle
- Mysterious Ruins 1
- Mysterious Ruins 2
- Crabby Beach
- Coral Cave
- Dexter's Island
- Snowy Mammoth
- Frosty Retreat
- Monkey Hot Springs
- Sushi Temple
- Wabi Sabi Wall
- Crumbling Castle
- City Park
- Specter's Factory
- TV Tower