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Space Chimps

Combining old-fashioned gameplay with out-of-date graphics, "Space Chimps" may satisfy some gamers only because of the very low bar set for kidpic-based videogames. Brash Entertainment's adaptation of the Fox/Vanguard toon has the titular monkeys climbing, kicking and collecting bananas in a package with little to recommend it beyond the fact that it functionally works.

Combining old-fashioned gameplay with out-of-date graphics, “Space Chimps” may satisfy some gamers only because of the very low bar set for kidpic-based videogames. Brash Entertainment’s adaptation of the Fox/Vanguard toon has the titular monkeys climbing, kicking and collecting bananas in a package with little to recommend it beyond the fact that it functionally works. Game’s few interesting levels are more than outweighed by those that combine cliché with confusing storytelling, resulting in a title that will perform just as poorly as the film has.

From menu screens that look like they were made by a Photoshop novice to environments all but devoid of detail to levels that end abruptly, “Space Chimps” screams that it was made in a rush. This is particularly true at the beginning, which offers no explanation for what these chimps are doing on an alien world or why they’re fighting generic-looking aliens. The game seems to be almost willfully challenging young players to find a reason to keep going.

Kids who soldier on will find things improve a bit. Plot eventually starts to cohere and gives players a reason to care in the form of a kidnapped shipmate and an adorable little alien who needs help. A few of the later levels even become engaging, particularly some devilishly challenging platforming sequences. But every single gameplay element has been done hundreds of times before and only some, like swinging on tree branches and collecting bananas for health, even make sense for the movie. When the chimps start grinding on rails like Tony Hawk and knocking over giant stone columns with their fists, players will wonder if developers threw in some unused assets from random 1990s games.

Missions alternate between film’s heroes Ham and Luna, who are differentiated only by their gender-stereotyped abilities: Ham fights with his fists and feet, while Luna has a long-range blaster and alien wings to help her float short distances. In an obvious missed opportunity, there aren’t any chances for two kids to play together.

Technical credits are the biggest disappointment, though. Not only are the environments and enemies designed with almost no distinguishing details, but they’re also presented via graphics that would have seemed low-fi before this game’s target audience was even born. Sound effects are similarly poor, while the game’s small collection of music and character lines will drive players insane with their constant repetition.

The short play time for “Space Chimps” makes it tough to justify at full price, a feeling only reinforced by the poorly implemented product placement that tells players how many “Dole Bananas” they have managed to find at the end of each level.

Space Chimps

Rated E 10+. $30 - $50.

Production: A Brash Entertainment presentation of a game developed by Red Tribe and licensed by Vanguard Animation for the Playstation 2, Wii and Xbox 360. Reviewed on Playstation 2.

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