Gorilla Boyfriend, a bizarre new gorilla/human dating game is set for release on both Android and iOS in August. Whether Gorilla Boyfriend will prove prosperous or preposterous remains to be seen, though video game monkeys have made for popular characters in the past.
Here, in no particular order, is my list of the best simian superstars to have graced the gaming world.
1. Pipo Monkeys (Ape Escape)
First released on Playstation in Japan in 1999, Ape Escape was the first game that required the use of a Dual Analog controller, making for a unique gameplay experience.
The story follows Spike in his attempts to capture an army of escaped Pipo Monkeys, named for their Pipo (or “Peak Point”) helmets, which imbue them with heightened intelligence. The Pipo Monkeys vary in temperament and ability, their pant colour denoting their personality and skills; red pants are allocated to aggressive, boxing- gloved Pipos whilst white pants are worn by clever, bespectacled monkeys with a high alert rate. This feature requires the player to adapt their strategy in catching the various Pipos and makes for an engaging playing experience.
Ape Escape was re-released via the Playstation Network in Japan in 2007, with fans in other regions lamenting the lack of availability outside of Japan. This reception, along with both IGN and Playstation Magazine dubbing it amongst the best games ever made, suggests that Ape Escape and the Pino Monkeys remain fan favourites.
2. Baby (Super Monkey Ball)
Super Monkey Ball accompanied the release of Gamecube in Japan in 2001, as one of its three original games. The Super Monkey Ball franchise has since exploded, with current title Super Monkey Ball Bounce available on Android and iOS.
Unlike many games, where the player takes control of a character, instead the player must tilt and move the map in order to transport sphere-encased monkeys towards a goal. Super Monkey Ball includes 4 main playable characters: leader AiAi, his wife MeeMee, son Baby, or GonGon, AiAi’s brawny buddy.
My choice of Baby, the “brains of the operation” over hero AiAi may seem unusual, but I prefer Baby for 2 main reasons. Firstly, despite character choice having little influence on gameplay, Baby’s small size makes negotiating narrow paths slightly easier. Secondly, he is, quite frankly, adorable.
3. Amigo (Samba de Amigo)
Rhythm game Samba de Amigo, began life as an arcade game in 1999 before being launched on Dreamcast in 2000, with both versions requiring the player to shake maracas to the beat of latin music. The maracas controlled affable monkey character Amigo, with the player’s skill level and movements determining Amigo’s dance performance.
This interactive element translated well with Gearbox’s decision to create a version of Samba de Amigo for Ninendo Wii in 2008, with the Wii remote and nunchuck used in lieu of maracas. The Wii version also included an vastly expanded soundtrack of modern music hits, garnering favourable reviews.
Amigo is a winning character because he reflects the game’s content; fun, bright, and likeable. And anyone who can pull off pierced ears, a neckerchief, and a matching waistcoat and hat is clearly worthy of recognition.
4. Infernape (Pokemon)
The Pokemon franchise includes many monkeys, from first generation fluffball Primeape to the Unova region’s tree-dwelling triptych of Simisage, Simipour and Simisear.
However, my favourite is Infernape, introduced in Generation IV, as the final evolution of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl starter Chimchar. Infernape’s dual typing of Fighting/Fire, high attack, special attack, and speed stats, as well as an impressive moveset, including Close Combat, Flare Blitz, and Acrobatics makes it a formidable opponent.
Interestingly, Infernape is both preceded and succeeded by two other Fire/Fighting starter evolutions; Hoenn’s Blaziken and Unova’s Emboar. Infernape easily outstrips Emboar and Blaziken in speed, they have significantly higher base attack (123 and 120 respectively to Infernape’s 104). Nonetheless, Infernape is still a strong and useful asset to any team, and remains the fastest fire starter of any Pokemon generation, with a base speed stat of 108.
5. Andross (Star Fox 64)
Although the character of Andross first appeared in Star Fox (SNES) in 1993, he did not appear in ape form until Star Fox 64, in 1997. The description of Andross as an “ape” might be a little tenuous, as he mainly consists of a disembodied head and two large mechanical hands. This bizarre physical state is result of dangerous biological experimentation, which saw Andross exiled to Venom from Corneria after nearly destroying the planet.
Andross subsequently becomes the main adversary of the Star Fox fleet, and a worthy one at that; his boss stage in Star Fox 64 is pretty difficult to complete (my brother did it for me). Andross has “died” and been resurrected a few times throughout the Star Fox series, and remains a perennial enemy. Andross’ endurance has crossed over into other franchises, with his bust featuring as a trophy in Super Smash Bros Melee.
6. Donkey Kong
No list of video game’s finest primates would be complete without the inclusion of Donkey Kong, one of the most well-known and loved animated apes. First appearing as the eponymous antagonist in 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, the success of Donkey Kong truly hit his stride with the release of Donkey Kong Country in 1994, which has subsequently spawned several spin-offs, with the franchise selling an estimated 40 million units worldwide.
Instantly recognisable due to his classy AF aesthetic, consisting of a fabulous quiff and natty red tie (he’s a gorilla, why does he wear a tie?), Donkey Kong’s popularity has spread, appearing as a playable character in many other successful Nintendo franchises, including Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros.
Although I love Donkey Kong, a special mention must go to his friend Funky Kong, who is responsible for many
wasted well-spent hours playing mini-game Funky’s Fishing on Donkey Kong Country (GBA version).