Remakes are here to stay. After the incredible success of the likes of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro Refuelled, developers will likely be looking to the past more often in the future. Everything old is new again, as they say, and no industry embodies that mantra more than gaming..
One company who has remade hits from the past already is Sony, with their line-up of extensive remakes including Medievil, Ratchet and Clank and Shadow of the Colossus. Most have been well received, though Medievil might not have set the world on fire, but the trend exists that a well-made remake is a license to print money. Now, I’m hoping Sony decides to dip back into their catalogue to remake another classic game. Nay, a whole trilogy.
I want Sony to remake the Ape Escape trilogy.
Developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Japan Studio, Ape Escape is exactly what you think it is: apes have escaped, and you need to put them back. The first game was launched back in 1999 in Japan, and was designed specifically for the analog sticks of the DualShock controller. These days, you’d think that FPS games would be the trailblazers for a twin stick control scheme, but no. It was a game about chasing monkeys with a net.
Considering that last year was the 20th anniversary of the game’s release, it was a bit weird to see the event come and go with no new game announcement. In fact, the last game in the series was for the PlayStation Move back in 2011. Aside from protagonist Spike appearing in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, the series has practically disappeared off the grid.
Fortunately, the 20th anniversary did see a new website and Twitter account emerge, celebrating the game. On New Year’s Day, the account also teased that they have something to announce in 2020, which naturally excited fans of the series, myself included. While that could be a new game in the series, I’m crossing my fingers for the trilogy remake.
Everything about the series practically begs for a full remake, from its gameplay to its presentation. Throughout the main trilogy of games, you explore a series of themed levels that demand exploration. With a host of tools and gadgets, you must capture as many of those pesky apes as possible in order to progress to the next level.
The levels themselves were filled with an undeniable charm, along with a host of secrets and collectibles, similar to that of Crash and Spyro. The first game was a joyous romp through time, while the sequel took us on a whistle stop tour of the world (and the Moon). The third game, meanwhile, saw the game lampoon various pop culture genres under the guise of a series of TV channels. Ape Escape 3 is weird, but it’s great.
The sheer range of locales on offer would make for an interesting journey across all three games, especially when rendered in 4K. Visiting lost civilisations, ninja castles, weird spaghetti western parodies and more than a few futuristic cityscapes fits nicely with the kind of experiences and levels offered in Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. An Ape Escape remake wouldn’t feel out of place amongst them.
Combine that with the fact that Ape Escape’s levels feature plenty of hidden secrets and often require players to revisit old levels with abilities they’ve picked up later in the game in order to achieve 100% completion, and the similarities to Spyro and Crash just keep piling up. Ape Escape’s gameplay is indicative of a time period that we’re clearly clamouring for a return to.
Still, there’s one aspect of the gameplay that also deserves to be fully remastered: the minigames. The trilogy offered some truly bonkers minigames over the years, with Ape Escape 3 perhaps taking the cake for sheer ludicrousness. The Simian Cinema mode allowed players to use pre-canned animations to create short clips, which with today’s social media age of sharing could lead to some hilarious viral videos.
Despite that, the real star of the show was Mesal Gear Solid, a full blown homage of the first Metal Gear Solid, complete with boss fights, Codec calls, rations, cardboard boxes and a fist fight on top of a giant mech. While it might be hard to get the rights to Metal Gear Solid again for the purposes of a remake, it’d be hilarious to see it make a return.
Considering that the Ape is one of the avatar choices when creating a PSN account, it’s clear that Sony still considers the monkeys to be an iconic property alongside Kratos, Nathan Drake, Ratchet and Clank and so on. That said, they haven’t had their chance to shine on PS4 the same way other characters have, and considering that the last game in the series came out nearly 10 years ago, some players might not even recognise the monkeys.
Again, the tease from the official Twitter account might be pointing towards Ape Escape 4, or a PSVR title of some kind, but a remake of the original trilogy would offer less risk for an equally substantial reward. I’d rather bank on nostalgia by remaking a series of old games and hoping there’s enough support to warrant a sequel than just making the sequel apropos of nothing and having the series die another death.
Regardless of whether or not it comes in the form of a remake trilogy or a brand new game in the series, the Ape Escape series looks set to be returning in some way in 2020. I just hope that the return is significant, and the success of other remake trilogies suggests that borrowing from the past is the way forward for Ape Escape. I mean, you literally start the series off by time travelling to the past, so it’d be a fitting move at least. In the meantime, there’s always the HD version of the second game on the PlayStation Store.
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