The original Ape Escape game released on the PS1 was a superb game, but each sequel and additional iteration just hasn't been able to trump up the same success, sadly. However, On the Loose mostly breaks this curse, and aside from those cumbersome controls, it is a whole lot of fun. It's not exactly original or fresh, but it's efficient and very entertaining for the most part.
The gameplay consists of attempting to capture monkeys once again, who have this time travelled through time thanks to the evil Specter. What's great is that the game changes up the formula of the previous titles and has you travelling to famous events in time to reclaim the monkeys, and each stage can only be beat after you've caught a certain number of monkeys. It's a lot of fun and there's also plenty here for completionists, as catching every monkey is quite a challenge indeed!
Visually, this is a great looking game for the PSP, giving the great visuals of the PS1 version a much-needed update, with some robust textures, and also some greatly crafted character models. The protagonist, Spike, particularly looks very nice indeed, and there's a good level of lip sync and animation, given that the PSP can often sag in these areas. The wacky, cartoon-esque style totally befits the material and cements the game's style. Aurally, the music is solid although it does grate after a while, and the voiceovers are overly whimsical, which you'll probably find irritating eventually.
On the Loose will please both newbies and fans of the original alike; it offers enough innovation to make it more than just a lazy PSP port, and the sense of humour pervading throughout is very apt. For a lengthy, rewarding title, this is one to get!
Professor to provide you with the necessary gadgets at the beginning of the game, the time net to send the monkeys back, and a sword-rod than a temporary halt in monkeys, so you can catch them. You get more gadgets, so you get more game, each of which has a specific use. When you first start playing the game, you'll need to choose the era, and the surface area through the level selection screen. There are a number of different historical period, each of which is a big levels, you can go through and find the monkeys. But at the beginning of the game is just one of selectable levels to try, you'll have to "earn" the other levels thrashing at the other levels. Monkeys are scattered in these huge levels. You'll have to see how much damage you take from enemies. This is marked in health and the cookie meter. If you have a hit, you can lose a cookie, and most of the enemies drop the cookie, when the loss, so you can get them back. You also have to try to make sure the monkeys are not the place for you, or they panic, and potentially offensive to you. Levels are full of all sorts of puzzles, you can determine whether the finding through the building, so that the description of how to gain access to places which seem impossible to reach. In order to leave the level, you have to take a set number of monkeys. Generally more than the requisite number of monkeys, at every level. You can return later to capture the level of all of the monkeys, not only in monkeys that are needed. Even after you collect "Specter Coins" scattered over the levels, you can open the mini-games such as boxing, and much more!
Catching monkeys... More entertaining than it might seem.
An evil monkey named Specter gains hold of a helmet designed by 'The Professor' to boost the intelligence of monkeys. He aids other monkeys with helmets in return for their help to assist Specter in world domination, by travelling through time. It is up to you, Spike, to stop Specter's evil intentions, save Buzz who has been brainwashed into being Specter's slave, and save the planet. This is done by going through the levels through various ages in time, catching monkeys using gadgets and the all-important Time Net.
In Ape Escape P, the player runs around the levels, killing enemies which try to harm Spike, solving puzzles, and catching monkeys. It is more fun as it might seem, as the various monkeys have different abilities and weapons, as follows:
Yellow: Normal monkey, attacks only with fists.
Blue: Fast runner, hard to catch. Spike is best off creeping up on blue monkeys by crawling slowly along the ground.
White: High awareness of Spike approaching them.
Light blue: Cowers in hard-to-find places.
Red: Close attacker, uses fists close-range effectively, hitting the player causing Spike to lose health.
Green: Carry missiles which are fired at Spike once he is spotted.
Black w/ sunglasses: Carries a tommy-gun and is very aggressive.
Spike is assisted by a number of gadgets which are unlocked progressively as the player completes the levels. The gadgets are as follows:
Stun club: Looks like a lightsaber. Used to stun monkeys in order to catch them easily. Also used to kill enemies.
Time net: Used to catch the monkeys.
Water net: Automatically comes into use when Spike dives into water. Can fire a net in order to catch monkeys underwater.
Radar: Used to find monkeys and even look up their name and type.
Slingshot: Used to kill enemies far off, hit monkeys off objects and to stun monkeys. Can hold normal bullets, explosive bullets or homing bullets.
Dash hoop: Once it is charged, can be used to speed through obstacles, kill enemies or stun monkeys.
Sky flyer: Used to fly for a short period of time
Radio-controlled car: Used to scare monkeys out of hiding places, or activate switches through small gaps in the level.
Magic punch: Similar to the Stun club but stronger.
The graphics were good for the Playstation in comparison to other games. However not much has been updated for the PSP version, and there is room for a lot of improvement. The maps are often pixelated and square-ey (technical term, of course).
Ape Escape P has an addictive sound track which is perhaps a little childish but suits the game perfectly.
The game has a massive 25 levels, and once all the monkeys are caught the player can also collect every single gold coin on the levels. There are also mini-games such as monkey snowboarding which can be played wirelessly by 2 players, a brilliant added feature.
Ape Escape P is a fantastic remake of the original. If you are an Ape Escape virgin this is a must-buy for the sheer retro experience and originality. The game contains many perks and comical features. However there is little progression from the original game so if you've completed Ape Escape on the Playstation, you will find yourself simply repeating the game with a smaller screen and a harder-to-get-to-grips-with button interface. The dual shock analogue features on the Playstation game are what made it, so in my opinion there is no replacement for the original. But still, a great, unique game for all ages. Sick!