A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is based on the computer animated film of the same name. It's standard action/adventure fare that features mild combat -- chimps punch evil aliens and shoot them with some goop. There is no blood, though some environments -- including one in which the player navigates through the belly of a monster and another that involves spiked walls -- could prove a little scary for younger kids. Also be aware that the main story mode is less than four hours long, making it a pretty pricey bit of entertainment.
What's it about?
An offshoot of the movie with which it shares its title, SPACE CHIMPS puts players in the shoes of a pair of monkeys, Ham and Luna, who have been sent by NASA through a newly discovered wormhole. Upon crash landing on an unknown world, the pair, along with their commander, Titan, find themselves embroiled in a battle against an evil despot that has enslaved the more peaceable denizens of the planet. As one might expect, given the game's simian protagonists, play involves lots of swinging, climbing, and leaping. There are also plenty of collectable objects, such as \"globhoppers\" -- colorful little aliens that unlock bonus content -- and life restoring bananas, as well as a healthy variety of blaster and sword wielding enemies players deal with via punches and a goop spouting creature that affixes to Luna's wrist. Outside the story mode, players can access a simple, 3-D arcade-style shooting game.
Is it any good?
Movie-based games have a reputation for being little more than a means to cash in on a film's popularity. At first glance, Space Chimps helps to propagate this perception, thanks to its lackluster environments, seemingly formulaic play, and sometimes aggravating camera (it tends to get stuck behind nearby walls). However, there is a bit more to this chimp romp than meets the eye. For starters, it has good dialogue and voice work, including Andy Samberg as the game's primary hero. What's more, the platform action is well designed. Swinging on ropes, spinning around bars, and leaping from one unsteady rock to the next is nothing new, but it's also not always as intuitive and addictive as it is in Space Chimps. In other words, it's just plain fun to play.
Still, there are noticeable indications that Space Chimps suffered from limited development resources -- a common problem among movie-based games. The biggest issue is its unfortunately short story mode. Even casual players can expect to finish the game in around four hours. You can replay missions to find all the collectibles and beat level goal times, but the only reason to do so is to unlock concept art and movies. Plus, the story is slapdash. It dumps players into the action with little in the way of foreword or explanation; and never really manages to pull together a cohesive (or coherent) narrative. Still, the solid platform game play keeps Space Chimps on the right side of recommendation, though it makes a better rental than a purchase.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the real-life chimpanzees that were launched into space in the early years of the space program (one of which, players are informed, was the grandfather of the game's hero). Why didn't we just send astronauts up instead? What did we learn from the chimps that went into orbit? Back to the game, who did you enjoy playing as more, Ham or Luna? What did you think of their distinct abilities?
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