Monkeys. Cute and adorable or troublesome creatures that do little more than chatter away and eat bananas all day? Either way, they’ve had more than their fair share of video games over the years. We’ve been inundated with countless Donkey Kong, Ape Escape, and Super Monkey Ball games in the past so you would think that maybe, just maybe, we could escape the clutches of our simian friends for a short while but no. Yippee Entertainment have brought us Chimpact to the PlayStation Mobile… with another infuriatingly cute monkey taking the lead role!
Okay, I admit it, I’m actually a sucker for games that have central characters that display some sort of genuine personality. I’ve long been an advocate that games don’t need deep, involving storylines to be great as long as there is a good game there. Gameplay has to come first and even visuals and sound don’t ultimately matter if the gameplay is rock solid. That’s why Tetris is still regarded as being one of the best computer games ever written. Ridiculously basic graphics but one of the most simple and addictive games ever written. No characters, no story line – just 100% gameplay. Okay, I’m getting side-tracked here… I mentioned characters because right from the start, this is where Chimpact lures you in…
You take control of our hero, Chuck the chimp, who has to make his way through the dense jungle, using extremely pliable and somewhat rubbery vines, to springboard him further upwards into the trees (strangely this is one ape who has a reluctance to jump and climb like his peers), until he makes it to his home at the top where his family wait for him… in their treehouses. Yes, Chuck isn’t your normal chimp and it’s not your typical jungle but you weren’t honestly expecting realism were you?
Controls are incredibly simple and quick to pick up. Chuck spends most of the game either spinning in the air or standing on large vines waiting for you to take control. When he is on a vine, simply use the touchscreen and drag underneath him using your finger, pulling down to control the strength and direction of the shot – effectively using the vine as a slingshot. Once you’re happy with everything, just let go and watch poor Chuck as he is sent hurtling into the trees. There are no lives so you simply just work your way up to the top of each level as quickly as you can, finding the best route along the way.
There are three game modes on offer. The main game is the Gem Quest and this spans a total of 48 stages spread over 4 different levels. In each of these you have to make your way up to Chuck’s home, while aiming to collect gemstones that are hidden in each level along the way. Each stage has a number of gems hidden and to progress from one stage to the next, a minimum number of gems need to be collected. Along the way there are bananas scattered and collecting them will allow you to spend these between stages to buy power-ups (but I’ll come onto these later).
The next mode, Totem Trail, offers another 48 stages, but this time each stage is made up of five separate challenges that you need to complete before you can progress onto the next. The challenges are incredibly varied and can range from races against the clock, reaching goals while avoiding spiked vines, collecting alarm clocks in sequence before they go off (incredibly frantic!), squashing caterpillars (don’t ask!), avoiding bees who are chasing after you… the list goes on, so this part of the game will keep you busy for ages as you try to complete all of them with 240 challenges on offer. Bananas can be collected in some levels, but depending on how quickly you complete each challenge you will be awarded bonus bananas at the end of each one.
The final mode is Quick Play. Like it’s name suggests, this is a pick-up-and-play mode that just offers you a series of randomly selected challenges. You can still earn bananas during play but as it is completely randomised, you will never know what is going to be thrown at you!
So, the bananas. I mentioned that you can collect these throughout the game and these can be used to buy various power-ups in the shop. These can range from a banana magnet (to help you collect bananas more easily), a shield (to protect against spiny branches that you’ll encounter in some levels and challenges), extra time (essential for some of the tougher challenges), an Eye of Crystal (to reveal hidden gems) and more. All of these have a limited number of uses before you need to repurchase them so you need to use them sparingly. Also from the shop page you can also select what chimp you control. While you start off with Chuck, extra members of his family are unlocked for play as you progress.
Visually this is arguably the best looking game on PlayStation Mobile to-date. The graphical style is reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country on the SNES with absoloutely stunning CGI rendered backgrounds and characters that are beautifully animated. The backgrounds are richly populated with flora and fauna and are brought to life magnificently, added to by wonderful ambient sound effects that make the game a delight to look at and listen to. The animation on Chuck himself just adds to this. He is full of expression and character and whether he is waiting for you to do something, has just collected a bunch of bananas (I’ll let you experience this one for yourselves) or reached the treehouses when he gets home, I defy anyone who won’t raise a smile or two.
It’s certainly not lacking in the options department either. As well as the basic choice on offer to alter music and sound effects, you can view the game’s credits, choose from five different languages or even reset the save game data – perfect for those of you who have already completed the game and want a fresh challenge again!
As with the entire PlayStation Mobile range, there is no Trophy support but it does have its own achievements which you can work towards… a massive 59 of them so once you’ve completed all of the levels (which you won’t manage overnight) you’ve still got plenty to aim for to keep you coming back for more. In fact, even when you’ve done that, Chimpact has so much charm that you’ll still keep coming back to play it because it’s just so much fun!
As much as I loved playing this, it’s not without its faults. Sadly, I did notice two bugs with the game and I don’t know whether they are there as a result of the PlayStation Mobile runtime module on the PS Vita or Chimpact itself. Before I go any further, I want to stress that in all the time I have spent playing this, I have only encountered each of these once, but I hope they can be addressed in an update at some point. First, while doing some work on the website I had Chimpact running and as any Vita title does when left alone for a few minutes, the Vita goes into Standby Mode. After this happened a couple of times I returned to Chimpact and attempted to continue only to be presented with a blank screen with the music continuing. At this point, the game couldn’t be continued so I had no choice but to quit.
The second – and I have no idea what happened here – was a time when I was fairly high up in some trees and fell… and kept falling, and falling, and falling… until I fell off the level completely! What I was left with was Chuck spinning and falling through space with no trees, or anything else to break his fall apart from the occasional company from a butterfly floating past! It was quite a surreal experience and once that I’ve never been able to repeat since.
Despite these flaws, Chimpact is an absolutely fantastic game. It’s fun and addictive but has enough difficulty to keep serious gamers happy, is quick and easy to pick up so it will appeal to casual gamers, and with a character as alluring as Chuck it will be a hit with younger gamers as well. Chimpact really is one of those rare games that offers something for everyone and with almost 300 levels, it’s not something you’ll get bored of in a hurry. This really is a classic game and one of the best titles to grace the PlayStation Mobile format. A must have purchase.
At A Glance
- Title: Chimpact
- Publisher: Yippee Entertainment
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 104Mb