Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ape Escape

I had two favorite sub-genres on the Playstation 1, survival horror and stealth. I had to buy second copies of Resident Evil 2, Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, and Syphon Filter because I had just played them too much.

Late in the Playstation's life, magazines started talking about a game that in all honesty, looked like a kid's game. It was a ballsy move by Sony, being the first game that required a Dual Shock controller, something that still not everyone had. It promised to combine platforming elements, puzzles, and stealth action.

I just didn't understand how this stealth action was going to be any good, since I wouldn't have a silent pistol equipped under a terrorist threat. To me, the stealth genre involved some action hero, sticking to the shadows, getting fed intel over a headset.

Late in the summer of 1999, I found myself at Babbages with $130 in store credit. As I browsed the racks of games, Ape Escape kept jumping out at me. I still don't know what it was, because I had already written the game off, but that day, I wanted nothing more than to have Ape Escape.

I walked out of there with a green dual shock controller, Ape Escape, Warzone 2100, and The Unholy War. (Turned out to be one of my better game trips as all of those games ended up being personal "classics.")

The game was beyond anything I could've imagined. Each ape had it's own personality traits that played into how you could trick and capture them. The lights on top of their head told you how aware of danger they were. There were fully fledged mini-games like skiing and boxing that were better than many full retail counterparts. The levels locked out entire areas until you came back powered up later in the game.

I found myself completely enamored with this world. I couldn't put down the controller. My completionist ways didn't like leaving apes behind because I didn't have the right tool to catch them. I needed to unlock that next gadget. I needed to beat Jake in the next obstacle course.

I never finished the game. I had something like 2% of the game to clear to fully finish it, but like thousands of Playstation fans, I was the victim of a Mad Catz memory card corruption.

Thanks to an excellent PSP remake, I'm trying it again. The warm glow of my Vita screen transforms me back to summer of 1999 where I gladly trounce my way through the levels for the second time. I'm determined to get that 100% before Christmas.

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