Grab your motion controllers, because Ape Escape has finally made it to the Playstation 3. In this Playstation Move only, downloadable title, you’re tasked with capturing trouble-making monkeys, after a UFO crash causes an unpredictable monkey invasion. Your ultimate goal is to apprehend Specter, leader of the monkeys, with your arsenal of gadgets fit for the task.

Playstation Move Ape Escape The gameplay takes full advantage of the Playstation Move hardware, and you can instantly tell it was designed for motion controls, despite having a hint in the name. You are not stuck with a single motion mechanic, like some other motion-based titles, but have several options as far as how you will complete your objectives. In the single player story mode, you are guided through each on-rails section, and can utilize a shooting mechanic, a mele-type mechanic, and a capture mechanic with a net. You auto-run through a section collecting bananas and power-ups, then stop at certain points to capture monkeys using a swinging motion and your on-screen net. At the end of each level, you face what you believe to be Specter, and must deplete a health bar and then go for the capture. It is important to note that each level in the story mode has varying difficulty, yet is clearly marked as to just how difficult you should expect the level to be. While the harder difficulties may not pose much of a challenge for the more seasoned gamers, the lower difficulties are well suited for most casual audiences.

The controls are tight and the on-screen actions reflect almost perfect 1-to-1 with what you are doing with the Playstation Move controller. The title only supports the Move controller, so there is no need for the Navigation controller, but you are able use the standard DualShock or Sixaxis controller in the multiplayer co-op mode. While moving around the sections before each capture point, you are free to take aim and shoot the collectibles, or take aim at approaching enemies and obstacles. A quick pulling back of the controller enables a multi-shot that can collect several items or take out several enemies at once. When shooting some of the objects further away, it does feel as though the aiming over-corrects somewhat, making the smaller targets more difficult. This doesn’t really change the flow of the game, but may affect the score of those working for the top spots on the leaderboards. Switching out your weapon, in the sections not designed for capturing monkeys, reveals a melee object that you use to scoop up collectibles, parry oncoming projectiles from enemies, or breaking through obstacles in the environment. When facing a group of monkeys, the melee object is your trusty net, that enlarges depending on the motion of your swing, that is primarily used for capturing those pesky monkeys.

Playstation Move Ape Escape You are not only collecting bananas for points, but building up a stash that prevents you from failing any given level. If you miss capturing a monkey when they approach you, they steal your collectibles and run away. Lose enough and the level is a failure. However, you also collect a power cell that you can hang on to and activate a special ability, giving you an advantage against a large number of enemies. You can only hold a few of these battery items at a time, so you will need to use them wisely.

The cut-scenes add a nice touch to the game, with anime style clips that feature representations of the Move controller and the gadgets you use in the game. Unfortunately, that is the best part of the graphics, seeing as the in-game visuals look like something from last gen’s lineup that have been uprezzed for use on HD displays. It might be difficult for game developers to stray too far from the classic look of Ape Escape, but getting a game designed for this generation’s console, it can feel disappointing. Much like the visuals, the audio follows a similar pattern. The cut-scenes voice work is pretty well done, but the in-game sounds do nothing but feel average.

Playstation Move Ape Escape Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer beyond the leaderboards, but the faults don’t stop there. The story mode has no co-op component, and while the mini-games require co-op right from the start, there is no option to play through the different game types solo. In order to maintain a moderate replay value, you are able to shoot for high scores in the story mode that will earn medals, and start off the mini-games with time challenges. At any point during play, there is a stat menu giving you an idea of how much of the game you have completed, as well as a monkey encyclopedia that tracks all of the monkeys you have encountered during your adventure.

Overall, the game shows what the Playstation Move can do for the Ape Escape franchise. There is quite a bit of fun available for casual and experienced gamers alike, and for those who have been fans of the series for a while, the environments will help you feel right at home in the world of zany monkeys. It is great to see a Playstation Move title not only released digitally on the PSN, but also at a reduced initial price. Playstation Move Ape Escape is yet another title that puts Playstation Move owners at ease with fun, friendly games that keep the hardware in use.

PlayStation Move Ape Escape for PS3 (PSN)
Title : PlayStation Move Ape Escape
Format : PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network
Developer : Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studio
Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment America, LLC
Release Date : 07/05/11

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*SCEA provided with a promo code for a review copy.