March 24, 2005 - The original Ape Escape served up a mean dish of platform goodness. Its arrival on the PlayStation marked an upswing of innovation and finely-tuned game mechanics. But that was then, at a time when 3D platformers suffered from design malaise. Fast forward to present and the latest entry in the Ape Escape series has launched along with Sony's poppin' fresh handheld, the Sony PSP. Currently one of only two platformers on the system, Ape Escape: On the Loose brings you back to the original PlayStation game, only updated with a series of extras. Fans of the series will undoubtedly feel at home in most respects, but the nature of the PSP also changes the basic Ape concept in some pretty big ways.
But first, a bit of simian lore. On the Loose mirrors the storyline of the PlayStation classic, where a monkey named Specter gains fiendish intelligence and ambition by donning the P-Point Helmet. He then sets out to re-write history by unleashing a band of wily chimps across time. Specter hopes to undo humankind's grasp on the planet, and it's up to you, a peppy redhead named Spike, to stop him. In order to do so, you'll rocket across time capturing some 200 monkeys with a bunch of cool gadgets, such as a stun club, slingshot and propeller. The way you actually used these gadgets was undoubtedly the best aspect of the original. Using the Dual Shock controller, you controlled Spike's movement with the left stick and gadgets with the right. A simple concept to be sure, but it worked remarkably well.
On the Loose features a game hub, called the TimeStation, which branches off into several rooms. Depending on which room you enter, you can access the main game world, mini-games, tutorials and the save/load area. On the Loose splits between different ages, with three stages in each. You'll play through the dinosaur-infested Lost Land and explore the watery depths of Oceana, and spend some time in Medieval Mayhem. Each stage features a certain number of escaped apes, though you only need to catch some of them in order to pass the level. The more you catch, however, the better the rewards. Each stage brims with a series of obstacles, such as spinning blades, floating platforms and frozen lakes. Of course, you also need to battle a number of age-specific foes, most of which aren't too difficult to dispatch. All in all, On the Loose sounds very much like a standard 3D platform. And that's because it is.
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ESRB Content Descriptors: Cartoon Violence
Features: Multi-cartridge Multiplayer, Memory Stick Duo/PRO Duo
Media Size: 1 UMD