IGN Review of Space Chimps
Space Chimps is a 3D action platformer based on the CG animated movie that tanked at the box office. To my surprise, when I got deep into it, I realized Space Chimps the game wasn't half bad. Don't get me wrong, some of it is bad. However it is clear that Brash Entertainment does not subscribe to the fact that games based off of movies have to suck in all regards.
In Space Chimps you control either Ham, a chimp who can stomp on enemy's heads, or Luna, his whip/projectile wielding chimpanion. The story in Space Chimps is clearly segmented throughout each level and does a mediocre job at painting you the big picture. For whatever reason you start out on a desert-like alien planet, and it seems like 99-percent of the aliens in the game want to kill you. You will face creatures of small to medium shapes and sizes. Some look like the headcrabs in the Half-Life series, while others are macho aliens that carry spears.
You can face your foes in a variety of ways. In addition to the standard flailing about, Ham can jump atop enemies and stun them. This will allow you to go gorilla on their butts. Luna can stun foes by going into first-person, where she can shoot them with her slimy lizard. However, while the combat is simple, it does have its fair share of problems. For one, when you're in the midst of a combo, the aliens can still attack you. Since you can't stop and block, it feels pretty cheap. However it's hardly frustrating because the artificial intelligence in this game is pretty dumb witted. It's a lot easier, most of the time, to just run away since the enemies are programmed to stay within sections. Cross a line, and you can look back at them staring intensely at the walls above. Never send an alien to do a chimp's job.
While the combat has some issues, the platforming is the majority of the game. Luckily the platforming elements are, for the most part, solid. The levels are all pretty well paced and Space Chimps does a good job of mixing the environments and gameplay mechanics around. Of course, as a platformer, there is the standard jump-from-ledge-to-ledge gameplay. Ledges will also move, which makes things more interesting. There is also some God of War-type wall climbing moments, which, while easy, make for a good transition to a different area of the level. The Prince of Persia-style wall running never gets old and neither does the swinging from rope to rope. Space Chimps clearly stole from the best, even if it doesn't do these mechanics as well as the aforementioned games.
However, even though the platforming elements are better than the combat, they still do come with their own problems. There are moments where you will jump on a platform only for it to vanish below your feet. Going through these moments the first time will surely kill you as you have no advanced warning. Luckily these moments are rare, and the checkpoint system is very generous. What is a little less rare, and arguably more annoying, are the moments in which Luna has to fly around with butterfly wings. In these instances you must fly within range of floating energy balls or you will gas out. But sometimes you will grab the energy balls and still die. It's very confusing. Another element that isn't very well thought out is the 2D platforming sections. They're a nice throwback to classic gaming, but even though the camera angle is viewed from a two-dimensional perspective, it's still very a 3D game. You can die by walking off the ledge to your right. This wouldn't be a problem if it was easy to gauge your bearings, but the perspective hinders your perception.
One part of the game that is just mediocre is the aircraft flying. These segments have you controlling a manta ray-type creature on rails; think Rez or the Gummy ship levels in Kingdom Hearts. While they are not atrocious, things can get a little frustrating because you'll crash into walls. It's sometimes hard to gauge the proximity of things. Luckily this mode is barely present in Space Chimps.
The best parts of the game are the puzzles; which I'm glad to say make sense. Players will have to find boulders to prevent gates from coming down, blocks that keep doors from shutting, keys that open up new pathways and more. Some of the tasks will teach younger kids about the basics of physics, momentum and inertia. See mom, learning can be fun! In addition, once you are solving a puzzle, the platforming/action elements do not go away. All three are blended together to form a cohesive package. It's reminiscent of the Nintendo 64's platforming days and will offer a moderate challenge for the young ones.
Another aspect that I appreciated in the game was its use of colors. While the graphics engine is pretty mediocre, with invisible walls and clipping, Space Chimps on the PC and Xbox 360 is filled with lush and rich colors. This gives the game a certain charm. However this is not the case if you're looking into the Wii and PS2 versions, which only feature the mediocre graphics engine and not much else. Both those versions suffer from some frame rate issues and look blurrier and less saturated with color. The PS2 version is by far the biggest offender in the graphics department. The colors are clearly off. For instance, brown walls look pinkish; a choice that was not intended.
What was intended is the music, which is actually pretty good. It won't blow you away, but the stuff is orchestrated, fitting, and at times epic. The sound effects, on the other hand, aren't as good. For the most part they sound natural, but there were very rare instances where the audio would just blow out and glitch. These moments would peak the volumes and distort the sound. Somewhere in-between the music and sound effects are the voices; which sound great in the cinematics, but can be slightly annoying in-game. However, if you don't mind your characters getting impatient, then it won't bother you much.
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