Ape Escape 3 Review

Ape Capture 3 would be a more appropriate name for this game than Ape Escape 3, albeit not as poetic of one. After all, the goal of the game is to capture 400 trouble-causing monkeys with your butterfly, um, monkey net. So just why are you trying to capture these monkeys? Well the evil genius Specter has unleashed them upon the world to film bizarre parodies of movies and stereotypical movie genres for broadcast on the world’s TV stations. The shows are so bizarre and goofy that anyone who begins watching them falls into a mindless stupor and becomes a helpless couch potato. Luckily fourth graders Yumi and Kei are warned of the broadcasts and with the help of their mom set out to capture the monkeys and put an end to their careers in entertainment.

Looks like an airplane adventure...
You play as either Yumi or Kei and the game is the same no matter which one you choose, so your choice is really one of whether you want to play as a perky schoolgirl or a spunky schoolboy. You enter the game’s levels through a warp point in your mom’s patio lab and your goal is to capture a certain number of monkeys after which you are warped home and the next level is unlocked. You start the game with two tools for capturing monkeys, a net and a club, but as the game progresses you’ll amass quite a collection of gadgets. These gadgets include an RC car, monkey-finding radar, and handheld helicopter blades, and they’re all designed to enhance your monkey-catching skills or get you within reach of well-hidden monkeys. You can map four gadgets at a time to the four face buttons to allow you to quickly switch between them. The gadgets are actually used by moving the right stick which allows for a good degree of control. For example, you can swing the monkey net high over your head or sweep it to the side to capture a monkey trying to slip past you. The downside of this control scheme is that the right stick is not available to control the camera and instead the game uses the L1 button to swing the camera back behind you. This works alright when there’s a pause in the action, but when you’re madly chasing after a monkey or trying to avoid being attacked by one of their robot helpers it can sometimes be frustrating to try and maintain a good view of the action.

Ape Escape 3 is a platform game, but there is a lot more strategy and puzzle-solving to the game than you’ll find in most games in the genre. Locating the escaped monkeys and getting to them is as much a part of the gameplay as is actually capturing them. There’s also a stealth element to the game in that sneaking up on monkeys and surprising them makes them a lot easier to catch than if they spot you and start running around like mad or worse, start attacking you. Each monkey in the game wears a little police siren on his or her head that will switch to yellow if they become suspicious that someone is near and will go red if you’re noticed. It’s a good visual aid when trying to sneak up on a monkey but it also adds to the feeling of pandemonium that ensues when several monkeys are running around with flashing red sirens going off full blast.

If you’ve played prior Ape Escape games then all this is pretty familiar to you. What will not be familiar is that Ape Escape 3 adds the ability to transform yourself into different types of characters. For example, you can transform into a cowboy and fire monkey nets with your guns or into a ninja and gain special moves. Personally I liked the genie master form’s power to unleash a dancing genie whose moves can mesmerize monkeys. Who’s the mindless drone now, monkey boy?