I think this game may be setting a record for being the most mediocre game I have ever reviewed. Are we allowed to come to the realization that we’ve captured the essence of the entire game in just one sentence, and just stop reviewing? I have a feeling the Chief would have a problem with that, but I don’t think there’s any real rule for the minimum length of a review… I guess since I almost have a whole paragraph written, I might as well just throw a few more together and save the Franzen master a headache or two.
The reason this game is so mediocre is because it suffers from an ailment that afflicts way too many games these days: It gets boring waaaaaaay before it’s even close to being over. Like many others, this game is fun to play, but just gets incredibly repetitive very quickly. I don’t know why games have to be 40-hours-long when it only takes 10 hours to get all of the enjoyment out of them, but for some reason they do.
When people read features of RPGs, they want to see the following things: some big number of weapons/armor/items to collect, some big number of hours of playtime, some kind of customizability so they can feel unique and special, and the name Final Fantasy. Ape Quest managed to put together three of these four things. There’s a whole mess of combinations of weapons and armor, due to the fact that you can forge and customize your own armor (there’s that customization, too! Whee!), and there are three chapters of the game to download (oh yea, did I mention that this is a downloadable game for the PSP?), each with a mess of storyline quests, sidequests, various minigames, and a couple bonus dungeons thrown in for good measure.
The one major problem with this formula is that the game gets boring before you can even finish a single chapter. A bonus is that you can buy the chapters separately, so you only need to play one chapter. A double bonus is that you only need to play two chapters in order to beat the game (I think, I obviously didn’t get that far, but I know you only need to beat one chapter before you can go to the final chapter.)
The quests are more or less all the same. Accept a quest, and then move your character to a specific point on the map where you fight a battle, complete a minigame, or just complete the quest by virtue of reaching that spot. Movement works like a board game, where you tell your character where to go and he walks a certain number of spaces to the destination. You sometimes encounter minigames, but they get old pretty quickly, or random encounters, but there are basically only two enemies in the game: magic-using skeletons, and weapon-using skeletons (there are different size and color versions, but they aren’t fooling anyone.) You’ll find that as you get further in the game, you’re just annoyed rather than entertained every time you get sucked into a battle or minigame. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing else to the game to keep you playing. The dialogue is somewhat humorous, as are other aspects of the game, including special moves you can use in battle (Monkeyfunk!), but it’s not enough to keep you pressing forward when the battles and minigames stop being fun.
I like to try to devote some time in these reviews to describing all aspects of the game that are scored, but all aspects here are pretty average, so there’s not much that’s very exciting to go into detail about. I should mention that there’s the ability to “unlock” music in this game, where you spend a certain amount of money and change the bland background music into a more upbeat, cheerful version. Problem is, the new music is way more annoying than the first version, and you can’t change it back. Also, since it’s really hard to play through the whole game, it’s hard to want to replay this game ever.
Before I close this up, I want to stress the fact that this is not a terrible game. I know I ranted about it being mediocre, and it is, but, as I mentioned before, you only have to buy one chapter. I would give this game significantly higher scores for fun and replay value if I judged it as though it only had one chapter; I only really became bored with it by the end of the chapter I played, and I had a lot of fun playing that much. The prologue portion of the game is free, so I recommend downloading that and seeing whether or not you enjoy it. The three chapters are packaged as a bundle for an overall cheaper price, but I would advise against purchasing that. If you like the prologue, buy one chapter (either blue or gold, since you can’t play red until you beat blue or gold.) If you still feel like playing after you beat the one chapter, then buy a second chapter. If you’re still not bored after playing two chapters, then might I recommend Final Fantasy 12? It also gets super boring, and you’ll probably enjoy it. Plus it has Final Fantasy in the name.