When a new "jumping game" appears on the App Store, it's sometimes difficult to feel excited because there's just so many of them, and they usually all feel the same. But, despite the genre being thrashed to death, it appears there's still room for a little creativity. Com2uS have recently released Escape the Ape [99c], which while definitely fitting nicely inside of the vertical jumper mold, mixes things up a bit by requiring you to draw your own platforms to jump on in real time.
Here's the story: Jo-Jo the curious chimpanzee tried to snatch a precious jewel, which was clutched in the hands of a giant gorilla statue. Unfortunately for Jo-Jo, the statue came to life and wasn't impressed with the little furry kleptomaniac. The thieving monkey fled upwards, into the trees, with the agitated ape in hot pursuit. ...And that's where you step in.
To help Jo-Jo escape the ape, you draw lines on the screen, which instantly become trampolines, bouncing the mischievous monkey higher. There's nothing for Jo-Jo to land on, just the trampolines which you draw. If you can predict where the monkey will fall and draw a line in the right spot, you'll do well, bouncing him increasingly higher. The trampolines can be drawn on an angle, to bounce Jo-Jo sideways, so he can collect items such as jewels and bananas, or avoid obstacles.
If you fail to draw a trampoline for the monkey, or draw it in the wrong place, he'll fall back down into the arms of the chasing ape, ending your game. This means you have to swipe a trampoline every couple of seconds, because each bounce only takes Jo-Jo a little way up the screen, after which your trampoline disappears and he falls back down.
The "chase" aspect of this game adds excitement, as the trees start shaking and dropping leaves when the ape draws closer. Eventually, the ape's head and arms appear at the bottom of the screen. This is the time to draw some quick trampolines, or if you've gathered enough yellow bananas you can tap the full glass of fresh banana juice to perform a bigger life-saving bounce, to get ahead and gain some breathing room. Oh, and if Jo-Jo collects an unripe green banana, his banana juice supply is depleted.
Another way to get ahead of the ape, is to perform a combo-jump. This is achieved by doing three "cool" jumps in a row, which seems to be awarded if Jo-Jo bounces perfectly in the middle of the trampoline without hitting any obstacles (although I'm not 100% certain of this, as it doesn't always seem to work and isn't explained). When a super combo-jump is executed, Jo-Jo flies upwards in a burst of stars, with his fist in front, like Superman.
Branches occasionally jut out, which slow your momentum on the way up, but if you land on top of a branch it bends and catapults the monkey higher. Or, Jo-Jo can grab hold of a red helium balloon, to float upwards. During the balloon ride, tilt controls are used to maneuver left or right, while collecting additional balloons prolongs the ride.
You can tell how high you are during the game, as birds periodically display signs stating the altitude. As you get higher, the background view changes and new obstacles appear. There's cobwebs which ensnare you like a cocoon, requiring some quick left-right swiping to break free before the ape catches you. And there's lamps, which - for some unexplained reason - make you grow in size, turning little Jo-Jo temporarily into an over-grown pixelated monkey who fills the screen and grabs all the jewels quite easily.
The jewels you've gathered can be used to buy items in the store. This includes stronger banana drinks which give more lift, trampolines which look thicker and give more bounce and the "Midas Touch" which increases the likelihood of a jewel appearing. The first upgrades for these items are quite affordable, but it will take quite a few games and jewels to upgrade these items to level 3. Although, of course, you can optionally use IAP to purchase jewels online.
Your final score is the number of meters climbed. Com2Us use their own online hub for leader-boards, requiring you to sign-up at their website, so there's no Game Center connectivity provided, but 30 achievements are available in-game.
Escape the Ape has been interesting to play over the past couple of days, and the game trailer (above) is quite amusing, so I've definitely got my 99 cents worth of entertainment, but the novelty of swiping trampolines every couple of seconds is wearing off, especially given the large gaps between upgrades. Although, admittedly, I'm still curious about what happens to Jo-Jo and the Gorilla at the top, assuming there is a top to get to, of course.
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