You've got to admire monkeys. They've got a hell of a sense of humour. Ever hung around the simian enclosure in a zoo and seen what they get up to? They loaf around all day doing absolutely sod all - until a group of young kids turn up, preferably in the company of a schoolteacher. That's the cue for the monkeys to start fiddling with themselves. It's not a pretty sight. Those kids are changed for life. Only a monkey could transform an innocent childhood day out into an eye-popping spectacle of untamed bestial pom.
So, monkeys are famous for playing with themselves. But now it's your turn to play with the monkeys. Or rather, a monkey. Not just any old chimp, either - we're talking royalty here. Monkey Hero from Take 2 Interactive is set to let PC gameheads the length and breadth of the land take control of a Monkey Prince and guide him gently by the furry hand through a surreal and convoluted adventure. Thankfully, frenzied masturbation doesn't get a look in.
The game is based on a popular Chinese fairy tale, and if the lead character looks vaguely familiar it's because the same story also provided the background for seminal '70s kiddie TV show Monkey, a programme responsible for inspiring more hazardous playground kung-fu antics than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could have dreamed of.
As befits its oriental origins, Monkey Hero features thoroughly Japanese gameplay, with a heavy action quotient accompanying the more bearded Cadventuring' elements: a formula familiar to anyone currently savouring Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII. Don't expect FFVII-style turn-based combat, however; Monkey Hero has more in common with the landmark Super Nintendo game Legend of Zelda, in that it's designed to be played more or less as an arcade game throughout, with old-skool computer game fighting being the order of the day. Tellingly, it's due for release on the PlayStation as well as the PC.
The story consists of some woefully inexplicable mish-mash about our simian hero venturing from the Dreamworld into the Waking World (that's where we live, folks), in search of the missing chapters of a magic storybook. Aside from being pretty, the playing environment is huge, consisting of over 2500 screenfuls of real-time 3D locations, jam-packed with enemies as hostile as they are surreal.
And there's more: magic spells to learn and use, puzzles to solve, hidden secrets to uncover... If all goes according to plan, Monkey Hero | should be a great big fat laugh. No, really. You'll go ape over it. Ha ha. We're not monkeying around.
Snigger. It's a primate contender for the number one slot. Ho ho. (Someone take this man outside and break his writing hand with a rock - Ed.)
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Here's a game that looks great on paper but in execution it's just plain awful. The good news is, Monkey Hero is an obvious homage to old-school Zelda: The overworld is covered with blocked regions you can't breach until you find certain items; instead of hearts you have peaches; you shoot spears instead of arrows; the dungeons are filled with familiar puzzles, etc., etc. And while I think the PlayStation needs more action/RPGs, this one suffers so many annoying flaws it just ain't worth the frustration. The game's mix of sprite characters and polygonal environments doesn't come off right at all. Enemy animation is pathetic, as are most of the animations for the main character. Monkey Hero suffers from slowdown even when there's hardly any enemies on screen. Collision detection is iffy. Many dungeons and outdoor areas are too dark. Yes, I know graphics aren't the most important thing in the world, but in Monkey Hero's case, the awful visuals just get in the way of the gameplay. And then you have the bland music and lame, cartoony sound effects (or, rather, lack of sound effects--most enemies make nary a whimper when they attack you). Underneath all this mess are some clever dungeon puzzles and cool items, but there just isn't enough here to make the game worthwhile.
The developers used the old Zeldas as a model for Monkey Hero, and it shows...sort of. While you can clearly see the Zelda influences--almost blatant rip-offs--this game comes nowhere close to that level of quality. Frankly this game looks, sounds and plays inferior to many 8-Bit titles. Everything you see here is derivative...and done poorly at that. A better game engine with more thoughtful puzzles might've helped.
I want to like Monkey Hero for its apparent old-school look and feel. But instead I find myself feeling frustrated at the game's lackluster gameplay, extremely choppy animation (so much so it affects control), below average graphics and unnecessarily childish sound effects. I applaud Blam! for giving Monkey Hero a shot--but the end product just does not live up to today's standards. Perhaps if the game came out two years ago...
Imagine SNES Zelda without the polished graphics, excellent music or smooth controls and you've pretty much got Monkey Hero. There are some interesting dungeon puzzles, and the overall game design is decent (probably because most of it is directly ripped off from Zelda), but the execution and presentation need some serious work. Rent it if you're desperate for a Zelda/Alundra-like action/RPG, but otherwise stay away.
Loosely based on the Chinese legend of the Monkey Hero, Take 2 Interactive's game of the same name places you in the role of the primate protagonist and thrusts you head-first into an overhead action game of mythical proportions.
Taking place over the course of three different worlds (the Dream World, the Waking World and the Nightmare World), you must take the Monkey Hero on a journey to the Nightmare World, where the creatures of the night are using children's dreams as a conduit to the Dream World. Born of the Five Elemental Spirits, the Monkey Hero was raised on the Waking World by a wise old Sage who tutored him as his student. Armed with the knowledge of Magic and Battle, the hero went off to defeat the invaders of the Dream World.
Playing in a manner similar to the original Zelda, Monkey Hero can be vaguely described as an action-RPG. While the RPG elements are stripped to the barest essentials, the action and exploration aspects can't be discounted. This game is all about roaming the huge dungeons, caves and forests. During his travels, the Monkey Hero must find keys to open treasure chests, keys to open doors that lead to rooms that hold chests that hold keys to other doors, and so on and so forth. Occasionally you'll throw a switch that will lead you to other keys, but you get the idea. What might not be so obvious is the plethora of hidden items in the game that must be uncovered through clever ways. For example, at some points in the game it is too dark to see and Monkey must locate and capture some fireflies in order to navigate the darkness. Another situation is where he must light a candle that he can use to burn a bush that hides a cave. Other, more complicated puzzle elements such as stacking blocks to get to out-of-reach places are found in the dungeons as well.
Scattered throughout the various places you'll explore are numerous enemies. Defeating these creatures can be accomplished in many ways, like pushing a bookshelf over onto an enemy, or simply whacking it with your bamboo stick a few times.
The graphics are a sharp blend of 2D sprites for characters and fully polygonal 3D backgrounds. Although the game seems a bit dark, the levels are unique, look good and are light-sourced too, giving the game an almost Klonoa-level of quality. The game's speed needs work at this point, and the implementation of analog control would help Monkey Hero's overall feel. The D-pad is OK, but they really need to give this guy the quicker-picker-upper--Dual-Shock compatibility. If developer Blam! can iron out the few issues present, they might have a sleeper hit on their hands. The character is great and the premise, while a bit worn, provides enough of a vehicle that even skeptics won't mind. Look for Monkey Hero sometime in January.
- MANUFACTURER - Blam!
- THEME - Adventure/RPG
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1