Sunday, August 2, 2015

Space Chimps. Chimps in Space.

I've been posting weekly blogs for a month and it seems to be working for me. I just found out that Blaugust–a month long blog-a-day event–started today so I'm going to give it my best shot. I plan on writing about a video games I've never gotten around to reviewing. Today's video game? Space Chimps for the Wii.

After the success of finding the NES hidden gem Totally Rad, I felt like no game purchase could go wrong. The next weekend I went to my local game store and searched for another game I'd never heard of that I could buy for no more than $5. I found myself in the Wii section when a game jumped out at me. Sitting between the dreadful looking Space Camp and the broody Spider-Man 3 was Space Chimps with a five dollar price tag. The back of the box said something like "jump about as a monkey on an alien planet." SOLD!

Immediately after starting the game I realized this was a licensed game. Hey, that's in my wheelhouse! Unfortunately, I have never seen, or even heard of the Space Chimps movie, so I can't say how accurate the gameplay is. The plot is shown in video clips straight out of the movie. There are three chimps in the cutscenes: Ham III, cocky and dumb and only on the mission because his grandfather was the first monkey sent into space. Luna, a more technologically competent astronaut. There's also a big goofy monkey voiced by Patrick Warburton but you don't get to play as him.

Space Chimps is a 3D platformer–a genre that has not been done justice the last few console generations. The platforming includes jumping (a given), swinging on vines, bouncing on mushrooms, wall running (in Ham's levels), flying, and tree-grinding Tarzan-style. Ham is the muscle and he has melee attacks. Occasionally Ham gets to fly on the back of a Fluvian and the game becomes a third-person shoot 'em up. As Luna you tend to use the alien planet's animals as tools. Early on you find a lizard that binds to your arm as a gun. Using it puts you in a first-person perspective. Later on you wear an animal's "flutter wings" on your back to fly for short periods. At one point you even get to use the flutter wings in 2D platformer style. Both characters have precision platforming sections as well as puzzles to figure out.

There are a handful of settings, and you get to play most settings at least once as Ham and Luna. The levels only require you to reach the end, with the exception of one boss fight at the end of the game. There's not a whole lot to the game. It's fairly straight forward and I was able to beat it in an afternoon (~3 hours and 45 minutes from start to finish). In addition to the regular bananas you collect for health, you can find one big Dole banana in every level that will unlock either a skin for Ham or Luna or concept art for the game.

I'd be lying if I said this game was great since Space Chimps has its flaws. There are too few levels. The developer Redtribe only made two of the three Space Chimps playable. Seriously, no Patrick Warburton Monkey? Unacceptable! Also, if you don't move the character for two seconds you will hear them say the same line. Two seconds of inactivity and you have to hear "we really shouldn't keep Ham waiting." In the more open levels the short draw distance is really noticeable.

There's not much more to Space Chimps. It's exactly the monkey platforming I was looking for and I don't regret the five bucks I spent on it. Do I wish there was more to it? Sure, but it's hard enough finding decent 3D platformers nowadays. If you really enjoy PlayStation and N64 era platformers but thought they could use better controls and a better camera, then maybe Space Chimps is the game for you.

This is not the monkey platforming I'm looking for.
That's Blaugust Day 1 down, only 30 more to go. If you want to participate, or you're just curious what the word Blaugust means, head over here to find out:
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