Best Ape Escape Games: Ranking The Entire Series

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You might be thinking to yourself, whatever happened to Ape Escape?

A fair question.

Back in the glory days of the PS1 and PS2, it was a beloved Sony exclusive. Now the series is stuck in purgatory.

With everything getting remade or remastered, it’s shocking that Ape Escape hasn’t been given the same treatment.

It’s not like it’s a bad series, as there’s many great Ape Escape games and they’re a lot of fun. There has been charming collect-a-thons, decent spin-offs, and admittedly inconsistent party games.

But don’t worry Ape Escape fans: Sony might have forgotten you, but we haven’t.

So let’s take a look at every game in the series, ranking the best ones from the “meh” all the way down to the very best.


14. PlayStation Move Ape Escape (2011)

PlayStation Move Ape Escape (2011) screenshot

If you ever need proof that beauty isn’t everything, look to PlayStation Move Ape Escape.

It’s by far the best-looking entry in the series.

Yet, that’s pretty much all it has going for it.

For starters, it’s an on-rails shooter, which doesn’t suit the franchise at all. It would be possible to look past that if the levels weren’t dull and repetitive, but they are.

So, unless you’re a die-hard Ape Escape and rail shooter fan, it’s probably best to avoid this one.


13. EyeToy: Monkey Mania (2004)

EyeToy: Monkey Mania (2004) gameplay

Does anyone else remember the EyeToy?

It was Sony’s first stab at motion control gaming, years before the PlayStation Move came onto the scene.

As a loyal first-party exclusive, it was no surprise to see the Ape Escape series get in on the action with Monkey Mania.

The best way to describe this game is to say it’s very similar to Mario Party. You move around a board, and occasionally play minigames. But with the addition of clunky motion controls.

It’s fine for kids, sure. But if you’re an adult, you might want something more substantial.


12. Ape Escape Racer (2006, Japan Only)

Ape Escape Racer (2006) screenshot

Speaking of Mario, the success of his kart games has convinced many other franchises to bring out their own versions.

As you can guess, Ape Escape is no different.

Unfortunately, Ape Escape Racer lacks the fluid gameplay, diverse tracks, and overall fun of the Mario Kart series.

It doesn’t even let you play as all of your favorite Ape Escape characters!

Instead, you control one of the monkeys, who have bizarrely been transformed into vehicles. Kinda fun, but certainly not the best you can get for this game.


11. Ape Quest (2008)

Ape Quest (2008) gameplay screenshot

As you may be able to tell from the previous games on this list, the Ape Escape series likes to experiment with different genres.

Well, now it’s time for a turn-based RPG.

And the perfect word to describe it is “meh.”

The limited combat hurts the overall experience a lot.

But it wouldn’t be as bad if you didn’t initiate a battle every 30 seconds.

Thankfully, the dull fights are split up by some usually fun minigames. And the dungeons aren’t so bad either.


10. Ape Escape: Pumped & Primed (2004)

Ape Escape: Pumped & Primed (2004) gameplay

There is plenty to like about Pumped & Primed.

You can play with a couple of friends, it has a nice cel-shaded art style, and for those who like to accessorize there are deep customization options available for your characters.

But a party game like this needs fun minigames, too. And it’s sorely lacking in that department.

The battle and platforming games are fine, though. If you find yourself in a boat or a submarine, then you’re likely to spend more time cursing the awkward controls than enjoying yourself.


9. Ape Escape Academy (2006)

Ape Escape Academy (2006) gameplay

Minigames play a large part in Ape Escape Academy, one of the more fun titles in the series.

You play them one after another to achieve graduation from each year of Ape Academy. The games are a mixed bag, some are nicely designed, whereas others make you punch a hole in your wall.

Just like in Pumped & Primed wonky controls are usually to blame for the more frustrating ones.

Even with some subpar minigames, you can still have a good time in Ape Escape Academy for a few hours. It just might not last for weeks on end.


8. Ape Academy 2 (2005)

Ape Academy 2 (2005) screenshot

A good sequel takes what works about the original and builds upon it.

Ape Academy 2 doesn’t really do that… sorta.

It just turns the whole thing into a card game. And not like Magic: The Gathering, more like Rock, Paper, Scissors but with cards.

Still, having a round of cards between each minigame adds a bit more variety to the whole experience. It also helps that the game seems to function better than its predecessor.


7. Ape Escape 2001 (2001, Japan Only)

Ape Escape 2001 game screenshot

Ape Escape 2001, or Pipo Saru 2001 as it’s commonly known, was the first spin-off game in the series.

And It. Is. Weird.

Instead of capturing monkeys like in the mainline games, you steal their pants using a vacuum cleaner, and take the garments to a huge washing machine.

I know that sounds made up, but I promise you that’s what happens in this game.

In all honestly, it’s actually pretty fun.

It’s one of the few spin-off games to somewhat capture the look and feel of the main titles.


6. Ape Escape: On The Loose (2005)

Ape Escape: On The Loose (2005) gameplay

Remember how I mentioned that it’s strange that the series hasn’t been remade?

Well “On The Loose” is the closest thing the franchise has to a remake, as it’s pretty much an identical re-release of the first game.

Yet, it has a major problem with its controls.

See, On The Loose came out on the PSP. Which only has one analog stick.

So the original controls had to be reconfigured, and they’re a lot more frustrating.

It sounds like a small thing, but trust me it can be really annoying. At least the wonderfully crafted levels and charming art-style are still here to enjoy.


5. Ape Escape: SaruSaru Big Mission (2007, Japan Only)

Ape Escape: SaruSaru Big Mission (2007) screenshot

Nintendo might’ve beaten Ape Escape to the punch when it came to kart racing. But using a magical hat to control things?

SaruSaru Big Mission did it before Super Mario Odyssey.

That doesn’t make it better than Odyssey (what is?) but it’s still worth pointing out.

And Big Mission is a great game in its own right. The monkeys you take control of have cool abilities all the way through, and it’s nice how they’re implemented into the boss battles.

If you can get your hands on a reasonably priced import, it might be worth your time.

Or you might be able to find a translated ROM somewhere on the web.


4. Ape Escape: Million Monkeys (2006, Japan Only)

Ape Escape: Million Monkeys (2006) gameplay

Have you ever wished you could truly battle the Monkeys you capture? If so, that’s kind of odd… but your wish comes true in Million Monkeys.

Because in this one, it takes more than a single hit with a baton and a swing of your net to capture these primates.

They’re equipped with fire clubs, guns, and vehicles intent on destruction. And they’re prepared to use them all to avoid capture.

Well, most of them are, others just hide.

It’s an action-focused take on the series that works surprisingly well. Being able to play as the villains for once is a nice addition too.


3. Ape Escape 2 (2003)

Ape Escape 2 (2003) gameplay

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seemed to the mindset of the developers for Ape Escape 2.

You still play as a spiky-haired kid (albeit a different one). The story is very similar to the first as well.

And like in the original, you capture monkeys using your gadgets and natural platforming abilities.

In fairness, what fan doesn’t want more of the first game?

And this one makes some new additions too, from never before seen gadgets to the incomparable Monkey Soccer minigame.

Seriously, it earns a high place on this list from Monkey Soccer alone.


2. Ape Escape (1999)

Ape Escape (1999) screenshot

One word: innovation.

Do you notice how virtually every console game in recent memory uses two analog sticks? Well Ape Escape was a pioneer of that.

It was the first PlayStation game that required two sticks, actually.

Also, while it didn’t invent collect-a-thons, it put its own unique spin on the genre.

Having players go around capturing primates rather than the typical coins was very original in those days. It was not just a great idea, either… it was executed pretty much to perfection too.

There’s a reason the original was so popular. I mean, none of its sequels make capturing monkeys more fun, but…


1. Ape Escape 3 (2006)

Ape Escape 3 (2006) gameplay

Ape Escape 3 does everything just as well as the original title (arguably even better).

And it has cool extra content to boot. Such as the exciting morphs, which allow you to change form many times over.

Need a distraction? Morph into a genie dancer and summon a genie.

A target is too far away to hit? Transform into the Wild West Kid and use your revolvers.

It’s a nice bit of added variation to the classic Ape Escape gameplay.

But if you don’t care about that, there’s also the neat movie-themed levels, solid minigames, and lovely soundtrack to boot.

This all makes AE3 the ultimate Ape Escape adventure worth playing.

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Ben Jessey

Ben Jessey is a freelance writer who has a degree in Film and Television studies. He spends most of his waking seconds either playing games or watching TV shows and films. But he also manages to find time to write about those things too.