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Flash Reviews: Ape Escape: Pumped and Primed.
by, 12-12-2016 at 07:39 PM (466 Views)
Welcome everyone to my review of Ape Escape: Pumped and Primed. This game was developed by SCEI (Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.) and published by SCEI in Japan and by Ubisoft in North America, both in 2004 on the PS2.
Ape Escape: Pumped and Primed is set in the Ape Escape universe and features known characters such as Spike, Natalite and the Pipo Monkeys and also features new characters such as Helga and the Pipotrons. Unlike past AE installments Pumped and Primed is played as more of a party game (think Mario Party but in the Ape Escape universe) and is playable with up to 4 players at a time (up to 4 in Vs. mode and up to 2 in Story Mode).
The game is set entirely around what is called the Hi-Tech tournament: a tournament set in the virtual world where players compete in various events using various Gadgets to determine the overall champion. Because it is a virtual world there's no fear of death or injury and blood is non-existent.
Because Pumped and Primed is played in a Tournament setting the gameplay is divided between Matches and Courses. Matches are Free-for-Alls where you fight against up to 3 opponents until the last player stands. Courses are divided between races (race from point A to point B) and auto-scrolling coin collect-a-thons (player with the most coins wins). In Story Mode there are also the occasional Boss Battles with the goal being to defeat the boss.
There are 8 playable Gadgets in this game: the 5 main Gadgets being the Stun Club (basic melee weapon), Slingshot (basic ranged weapon), Dash Hoop (speeds you up and damages foes on contact), RC Car (control an RC Car that explodes and deals AoE damage at the push of a button) and the Dragonfly (allows for hovering in the air). There also exists the Boat (for Boat races), Watermech (for underwater combat) and the Tank (for Tank combat).
Each of the 5 main Gadgets (aside from the Dragonfly) has 4 forms that change how they work: Basic (the standard one), Fire (launches foes high into the air), Ice (freeze and immobilize opponents for a short time) and Thunder (prevents the use of Gadgets for a short time). For the Vehicles there is just the standard and Ice variants. Because the Dragonfly is not meant to be an offensive based Gadget its variants instead change its properties ranging from a slower decent to propellers that damage foes that touch it.
Though there are 5 Gadgets you can only bring a maximum of 4 gadgets to a match, though there are some events that focus only on a specific type of gadget (i.e. Stunclubs only).
In addition to the standard Gadgets there exists the Monkey Summon (summons a Monkey to assist you in a level) and special cosmetic costumes for each character. Additional Gadget variants, costumes and summons can be unlocked by fulfilling special requirements in each level, usually just collecting X amount of coins or by beating a level in a certain amount of time among others.
Each playable character (10 total: 8 starters, 2 unlockables) has their own sets of strengths and weaknesses and each one performs differently. Not only that but they also have their own variants on each gadget as well. Even when you discuss the two teams (Team Monkey and Pipotron) each team member has a gadget that they excel in. For example, Pipo Black on Team Monkey fires more bullets at a time from his machine gun than his teammates do, while Tron Blue on Pipotron moves faster than his teammates on the Dash Hoop.
Because it's a tournament you get points based on your placement, 1000 for first, 750 for second, 600 for 3rd and 300 for 4th or for a DNF (for races and coin runners). In Story Mode you have to get a certain number of points in order to pass each round. Should you fail you must do the entire round all over again.
Honestly there's not much that I don't like about the game but I do have some issues. For starters I found controlling the Boat gadget to be a pain. In order to move forward you have to constantly rotate both control sticks in a circle, which can be hard to do if your fingers are tired or sore.
The 2 unlockable characters in this game (Jake and Dark Jake) are only playable in Vs. Mode and not Story Mode, which while understandable is still very annoying in my opinion. Also, I didn't like how for some of the later events the time to unlock different items is very strict. For instance, there is one event that requires you to beat both opponents in under 1 minute, which is easier said than done, believe me.
I was also disappointed that the Virus Tech Tournament levels were unplayable in Vs. Mode. Those could have added some more spice to the game in my opinion, but that's just me.
The music while decent can get repetitive at times. It's not that bad but the lack of variety in music for the different stages can get annoying at times.
One last thing. The story while decent isn't very exciting honestly, so if you're looking for a game with a great story than look elsewhere.
Honestly even though the story wasn't all that great it was still enjoyable regardless. I enjoyed the fact that no two characters felt the same (well, aside from Spike and Jake but that's a story for another day). Sony did a great job at making each character unique and fun to use from the obvious (Pipo Monkeys using a machine gun for their Slingshot) to the subtle (Casi saying "Sorry" whenever she uses her Stun Club spin attack).
The unlockables while a pain to get at times are very rewarding to get, and yes that includes the different costumes that each character has.
Each level is also very well designed, and the transition from the side-scrolling levels to the open world style levels never felt clunky or out of place. The same can be said for the levels in general.
The English Voice Acting was also really good, even for the newcomers to the series. The voices felt natural and not out-of-place or overdoing it so props to the Voice Actors for a good job.
The ability to see what times are needed to get a levels prizes after beating the level once is a major plus. It removes the guess work of finding out what times are needed to get which prizes. Not only that but it's also great that getting the best time gets all rewards for that level right away.
Also, before I forget, the ability to insert special cheat codes after Story Mode is beaten once was a fun addition to the game. None of the cheats are game-breaking and they all feel like natural inclusions to the game as well.
One final thing, the video unlockables range from humorous to insightful. The latter applies especially with Helga and the Pipotrons. How insightful? Well I'll just let you figure that out for yourself .
While there are some things that the game could have done better Ape Escape: Pumped and Primed is still a fun game to play either alone or with friends. The levels are enjoyable and well designed and no character feels out of place over/under powered. For fans of the Ape Escape series this is one edition that you won't want to miss. For people just learning about the series though I would recommend playing the original Ape Escape first in order to get better acquainted with the main characters.
Overall though it's a great game and fun to play, so definitely check it out if you haven't already.