Game: Ape Escape 1 & 2

aka: Saru! Getchu!, サルゲッチュ
language: English
finished on: 22/Jun

OK, so I’ve been working and thus haven’t updated my blog in a month. Oops. I’ve also shied away slightly from reviewing a game that I’m so familiar with as Ape Escape, which is one of my favourite games for the Playstation. I’m not really sure what to say about it, to be honest. It’s got a cool unique control system where one uses the analog stick to control various gadgets, such as a totally-not-a-lightsaber or a propellor to make you fly, and a nonsensical time-travel plot… what’s not to love?

Oh, and lots of monkeys. It’s a gotta-catch-em-all plot (for some reason this seems to really appeal to the Japanese), although it never quite made sense to me why the main method of catching the little buggers is a butterfly net.

The time travel thing works well, and there are some inventive levels in there, touring the world and various eras of history and prehistory (where would a time travel plot be without dinosaurs?). The plot, as I say, is nonsensical, but towards the end it manages to trick you quite successfully two or three times. Anyway, so all’s well. At least it was until the game crashed just before one of the final bosses (during a movie). After the longest level in the game. And after I hadn’t saved. So I ragequit (and then lent the game to a friend, so I haven’t gone back to it). Of course, it doesn’t matter, because I’ve completed it quite a number of times before.

The (first; I haven’t played #3 yet) sequel seems to have been more constructed as a reimagining in some ways; it’s released for the PS2, and has much better graphics. But many of the levels are almost directly repeating ideas that were gone over in the first game. Maybe this is inevitable; after all, there are only so many themes that the game could possibly have anyway. It’s also not a time-travel plot anymore, so the game has to contrive a Lost World in order to send the main character back to the dinosaurs – however, it’s able to do this in the middle of the game, with some potentially more challenging dinosaurs to fight off, rather than right at the start as the first game had to do. In general the second game probably feels more like a cartoon where they’re trying to fit as much stuff in as possible, compared to the first game, which is a bit more structured, and with the graphical limitations of the time, more focussed on gameplay.

Now, it’s probably worth noting at this point that the UK/PAL dub is different from the US/NTSC dub, on the offchance that I get someone from the US who’s familiar with the game stumbling across this page… because a couple of the things I’m about to say might make absolutely no sense otherwise. Basically I think the dub of the first game is great and the one of the second game is shit. There are a few reasons for this – the main villian Specter is one, for instance, because his actor in the first dub really goes to town on him and hams it up to the max, while his actor in the second dub sounds weedy and pathetic. The other actors have changed between the games too, but even more annoyingly, they keep their Japanese names in the second game – so MistyKatie suddenly has a name change and starts being called Natsumi, and the main character of the first game, Spike, is mentioned by name as Kakeru. And that’s probably the biggest problem I have with the second game: lazy translation.

Oh no, wait, there’s that baby Tamagotchi monkey that follows me around giving “hints” several minutes after I would have needed them (I’m too good at the game for that…). He’s probably the most annoying thing about the second game.

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