Ape Academy

Those crazy monkeys are at it again, only this time they’re going back to school. As the title screen says, welcome to Ape Academy.

Ape Academy is essentially a sizeable collection of mini-games that are as varied as they are insane. Throughout the game, you will find yourself dodging bulls, fending off zombie monkeys, answering maths equations, engaging in monkey combat, and trying to hand out roses to passer-by’s – and that’s just a small example of what you will face.

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There are several game modes to try out in Ape Academy. The main part of the game is Academy mode, where you must advance your monkey through his junior and senior years by winning a lot of mini-games. Every year has its own quirky teacher, who alternates between giving encouragement and yelling abuse. Each stage takes the form of a noughts and crosses board – there are nine randomly selected mini-games available to you, one of which is randomly chosen by your teacher. If you win the mini-game, a circle appears over that square – but if you lose, you get a cross. Your overall goal is to get as many lines of three circles as you can, so that you can progress onto the next year. This adds a nice extra layer to the otherwise disparate collection of mini-games on offer.

Of course, the mini-games are still the main part of Ape Academy, so a lot of importance rests on them. Unfortunately, I found them to be a mixed bag – some were good fun, but others were just a bit too random and seemingly pointless, or just not implemented well. Perhaps if the developers had concentrated on a smaller number of mini-games, they would have been of better quality. Having said that, the good ones are a blast to play, and should keep you entertained for short bursts of time. However, I would recommend playing them on their own before getting stuck in to the Academy mode – many of the mini-games can be quite confusing at first, and your impatient teachers give you no second chances.

While the single-player mode can be entertaining, by far the most fun I’ve had with Ape Academy is when I was competing against a friend. The mini-games just get so much better when a real person is on the receiving end of your amazing monkey skills. As an added bonus, two people can play against each other on one PSP, which is a refreshing change from having to find someone else with both the system and the game.

Ape Academy is quite well presented. Its graphics are bright, colourful, and cartoony, fitting in well with the persistantly chirpy music and sound effects. Its bizzare theme is seen in every aspect of the game, from the intro and title screen to the teachers and the (somewhat absent) plot. You may want to mute the sound or wear headphones if you’re in public, unless you want to draw a lot of confused stares – the teachers especially sound pretty crazy.

I’d recommend this game if you have someone else to play it with, or if you don’t get annoyed very easily. At its best, Ape Academy can be quite fun, but it can also be fairly frustrating – if you can, see if you can try it out before you buy it.

"The ape's are back in a series of portable mini-games."
- Ape Academy
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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