Ape Escape PS1 trophies review — seamless update of a PlayStation gem

By Lee Brady,

Ape Escape hit PS5 and PS4 with the PS Plus relaunch, bringing a new platinum trophy and trophy integration along with it. Today, we’re reviewing that PS1 trophy hunting experience.

Earning the platinum trophy in Ape Escape is probably one of the easiest feats trophy hunters will ever accomplish. The PS1 classic takes about seven hours to beat, and the vast majority of the newly supported trophies will pop simply by making it to the end. In compensation, Ape Escape merely asks you to embrace its blocky polygonal aesthetic and still fairly experimental action design long enough to perhaps, even accidentally, fall in love with it.

ape escape reviewFrustratingly, in-game these guys are called monkeys. There are no apes in Ape Escape.

Ape Escape’s platinum trophy goes easy on new PS Plus players

What’s interesting about Ape Escape is not so much how easy this PS1 game's platinum trophy, No Ape Can Escape, is to earn, but rather how much harder it could have been. The game’s PS2 sequel, Ape Escape 2, has been on PS4 since 2016 and is also available on PS Plus Premium — and here we see how hard the Ape Escape trophies could have gone.

Both Ape Escape and Ape Escape 2 have a ‘final’ ending — one that requires the player to, first, beat the final boss; second, get the final gadget, the ‘Magic Punch;’ and third, collect all the hidden monkeys across the game that you couldn’t capture on your first playthrough. However, only Ape Escape 2 has a hidden trophy (spoilers?), One Last Time, that actually requires you to fully complete the game (not to mention a second playthrough to earn Back for More).

If you’re earnestly exploring the game as you play to collect those 40 Specter Coins needed to unlock the Money Bags trophy, players can easily unlock the Ape Escape 1 platinum in a single playthrough. Which begs the question — why did this PS1 trophy hunt, digitally updated with trophies six years after the original, decide to go so easy?

ape escape platAlmost a third of TT players have already unlocked the plat at time of writing — quite the feat!

Ape Escape PS1 trophy implementation shows confidence in game design

Having earned the platinum myself, while the desired effect from the easier trophies might look like an attempt to ease in the PS Plus players whose eyes never had to adjust to the sharp edges of the polygonal era of video games, I can’t help but see the game’s trophy implementation as a statement of confidence.

By the end of Ape Escape, you’ll have mastered a wholly unique way of controlling a game, and undeniably you’ll have had fun doing so; but you’ll also know there are plenty of apes (see: monkeys) still quite escaped, and brilliantly, that’s where the trophies leave you.

When the first ending rolls around, if you load into your save file post-credit roll and start a new stage, you’ll pop what for most will likely be the final trophy on their list — Put Em Up! — by acquiring the Magic Punch. This gadget lets you access all the areas you’ll have noticed were blocked throughout the game, and thanks to the stat counter before and after each level, and the Monkey Radar you got while unlocking Who Are You Looking For?, you’ll know just how many monkeys remain uncaptured just as you clear the platinum trophy.

ape escapeWrapping your head around making analogue stick circles to glide is probably challenge enough.

To me, this isn’t a sign that whoever implemented the trophies for Ape Escape on PS Plus thought the game had probably gone hard enough on players by demanding they learn a wholly unique and experimental way of moving and interacting by tying all actions (bar jump) to the right analog stick. Rather, the trophies leave you poised and expecting a little more, gingerly positioning you right at the start of the rest of your adventure, keenly aware that those grooves in your brain are now dedicated solely to playing Ape Escape will be begging you to unescape yet more apes.

When, if ever, do we get trophies for a game that work to suggest a tailored experience for the player, rather than simply overlay a maximalist’s money’s worth of bonus challenges atop an already tailored experience (i.e. the game’s original core design)? Not only are the trophies for Ape Escape accessible and achievable — they also work in tandem with the game’s actual design to further incentivise engagement beyond just the basic first run, without actually forcing the player to do it.

ape escapeSpecter, the affable villain that he is, doesn't even demand you get all his coins to beat the game.

Personally, I think that’s worthy of some distinction (aside from its spot on our top PS1 games list, of course). Earning trophies in Ape Escape was an absolute blast because it rewarded what was already there, keeping me earnestly invested in exploring levels while not incentivising overworking or burning out exploring levels I wasn’t as fond of. In my opinion, Ape Escape represents the perfect template for classic PS1 trophy implementation, and will certainly be my benchmark going forward.

ape escape trophy rank
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Shadow x Sonic Generations), one eye on the past (PS1, PS2, and PS3 games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy, Sonic, Kingdom Hearts). A PlayStation fan since childhood, he loves nothing more than to scrutinize PS Plus and PS5 player data.
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