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Video Game: Ape Escape
Your job is to catch some monkeys. Here's a net. Go bananas.
A series of 3D Platform Games and proof that Everything's Better with Monkeys. Known as Saru! Get You! in Japan.

All three main games are about a superintelligent Evil Albino monkey named Specter who suddenly gains super-intelligence through a hapless professor's intelligence-increasing helmet, who proceeds to put said helmets on every other monkey in a monkey enclosure and teleport them all over the place. Your character's task is to...well, catch them all. In a possibly inadvertent Shout-Out, the second game's characters are all voiced by voice actors from Pokémon - in the North American version, anyway.

Notable also in that the PAL versions of each game have a unique dub, with the Professor affecting a German accent and everyone else speaking in London children's show accents. Specter also sounds noticeably older than his American counterpart.

Your characters change from game to game, starting with a guy named Spike/Kakeru, then going to a kid named Jimmy/Hikaru, then your choice of two characters Kei and Yumi (NA)/Satoru and Sayaka (PAL) in 3, and a nameless Heroic Mime in the PlayStation Move game. Also, starting from Ape Escape 2, the game's Quirky Miniboss Squad, the Freaky Monkey Five, shows up, monkeys that have been fed the power-boosting Vita-Z Banana and making them go completely insane.

Main series:
  • Saru Get You/Ape Escape (1999, PlayStation) - The first PlayStation game to explicitly require the use of the DualShock controller.
  • Saru Get You 2/Ape Escape 2 (2002, PlayStation 2)
  • Saru Get You P/Ape Escape: On the Loose (2005, PSP) - A port of the first game.
  • Saru Get You 3/Ape Escape 3 (2005, PlayStation 2)
  • Saru Get You: Million Monkeys (2006, PlayStation 2)
  • Saru Get You: SaruSaru Daisakusen (2007, PSP)

Spinoffs:
  • Pipo Saru 2001 (2001, PlayStation 2)
  • Gacha Mecha Stadium Saru Battle/Ape Escape: Pumped & Primed (2004, PlayStation 2)
  • Saru Eye Toy Oosawagi/EyeToy: Monkey Mania (2004, PlayStation 2)
  • Pipo Saru Academia/Ape (Escape) Academy (2004, PSP)
  • Pipo Saru Academia 2/Ape Academy 2 (2005, PSP)
  • Saru Get You: Pipo Saru Racer (2006, PSP)
  • Ape Quest/Pipo Saru Senki (2008, PSP)
  • Furi Furi! Saru Get You/(PlayStation Move) Ape Escape (2010, PlayStation 3)

The series is notable for its control scheme, where the PlayStation's symbol buttons change your myriad gadgets and the right analog stick uses them (also, R1 and R2 are used to jump).

Spike appeared as a playable character in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale in his Million Monkeys attire, albeit with a more westernized look.

This video game series contains examples of:

  • 100% Completion:
    • Reaching the final boss of an Ape Escape game requires that you catch all of the monkeys in the game.
    • Pumped & Primed has another form of 100% completion, where you must collect all presents as all characters.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Both the first and the third games have one of these, which are both late-game and very difficult.
    • The one in the third isn't actually that hard. The first game's sewer was significantly more difficult though.
  • Alien Invasion: In the PlayStation Move reboot, the monkies working with Specter are quite literally space monkies. It's not so much a serious invasion as something they did for fun though.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In Ape Escape 3, Monkey Blue has a crush on Monkey Pink, who is attracted to Specter, who just doesn't care about her.
    • Second Love: In SaruSaru Big Mission, Blue is madly in love with Aki.
  • All Up To You: Most of the games.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Penultimate level of the first game.
  • Anime of the Game: Saru Get You -On Air-, which ran for a little bit over a full year with two seasons and a total of 77 episodes.
  • Art Shift: In Ape Escape 3, a few cutscenes will temporarily switch to 2D animation for reaction shots.
    • The anime is mainly animated in 3D but occasionally switches to 2D for emphasis or reaction shots.
    • The cutscenes in the PlayStation Move game. The protagonists look much older than the ones from the previous games. The overall style is less cutesy as well (except for all the monkeys, Specter himself is much cuter looking).
    • Million Monkeys has the weirdest ones, with about 50% of the cutscenes filmed in real life.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: After making a Villain Exit Stage Left, Yellow Monkey returns to fight Jimmy at the end of Code C.H.I.M.P. Only this time, he's huge and on a rampage thanks to an overdose of Vita-Z Bananas.
    • In the anime, Pink grows bigger when she gets angry because Casi wins in Episode 33.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: At the end of Code C.H.I.M.P., Specter reveals his latest creation to stop you: the Mk. II Battlecruiser! As you soil yourself at the thought of fighting a flying battleship with a net and a stun club, Specter gloats... until a glowing banana peel falls on his head. He looks up to see Giant Yellow Monkey, huge and on a rampage due to an overdose of Vita-Z Bananas, who promptly smashes the Battlecruiser to bits because Specter denied him yet more bananas.
  • Big Bad: Specter, 75% of the time.
  • Blessed with Suck: In Ape Escape 3, after the 6th boss battle, it is revealed that Dr. Tomoki was a human test subject for the Pipo helmet, when a freak accident caused it to fuse to his head, resulting in his intelligence being multiplied approximately tenfold (if his claim of an I.Q. of 1300 is to be believed), but also leaving him with a ridiculous-looking light forever attached to his cranium.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Dr. Tomoki.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Monkey Pink, Helga, and Natalie in the second season of the anime.
  • Bonus Boss: There are two secret monkeys in Ape Escape 2 that only appear after completing the game and capturing all the monkeys in their respective levels. One is dressed in Mickey Mouse's Sorcerer's Apprentice getup and summons hordes of enemies while teleporting around the area, and the other is a cyborg who is faster than the other cyborg monkeys, more powerful than them, and takes several hits from the Magic Punch before the suit is destroyed.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Some of the toughest monkeys could qualify.
  • Bottomless Pits: Everywhere, to the point of frustration. The Nintendo Hard sequence in the last level of the first game stands out as a particularly painful example.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Jake in 1 and Pumped & Primed. He gets better, thanks to Spike.
  • Brown Note: The Specter TV broadcasts in the third game hypnotized everyone who watches it, including, conveniently, the protagonists from the past two games.
  • The Cameo: In 3, a few underwater enemies come straight out of the Japan-only Sony game Space Fishermen. It's even lampshaded in the description for one of the enemies, wondering if it's in the wrong game.
  • Camp Gay: Yellow Monkey. So much that he "flirts" with Kei, the male protagonist of 3. Also, Dr. Tomoki, to a lesser extent.
  • Catch Phrase: "Gotcha!" whenever a monkey is caught.
  • Colour Coded Characters: The monkeys all wear different colored pants, which hints at their nature when you encounter them in a level; yellow = basic grunts, light blue = cowards, navy = insanely-fast speedsters, red = aggressive fighters (and they gain the ability to block your attacks in 2), green = nimble monkeys who carry backpacks that fire homing missiles, black = machine-gun toting monkeys with A-Team Firing skills, white = oddball with weird quirks and poor eyesight due to their Opaque Nerd Glasses.
    • Except in the first game, where monkeys with white pants were exceptionally alert, and thus pretty much impossible to sneak up on.
  • Continuity Reboot: The PlayStation Move Ape Escape has a completely new story. The main character is a teenager Heroic Mime and his two sisters capturing monkeys from space, while looking for their grandmother too. The overall style underwent an Art Shift (although the monkeys themselves remain the same). The only returning character is Specter, and his backstory has been completely changed from a circus monkey corrupted by a intelligence boosting helmet to an already intelligent Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds after being forcibly launched up into space. While not horrible, most fans are hoping it doesn't stick.
  • Cool Helmet: The Peak Point/Pipo helmets the monkeys wear, which boost their intelligence.
  • Cool Shades: Black-pantsed monkeys wear sweet shades and carry submachine guns. Yeah, mankind is screwed.
  • Crossover: Appears as a Mini-Game in Metal Gear Solid 3.
    • The third Ape Escape game also has a minigame called Mesal Gear Solid, which is basically Metal Gear Solid except shorter and more kid-friendly.
  • Darker and Edgier: Million Monkeys shows what happens when a No-Nonsense Nemesis gets control of the monkeys instead of Specter: he wages war on the whole world.
    • And to a lesser extent, the PlayStation Move game too, in terms of art style for the most part.
  • Die, Chair! Die!
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: Pulled twice in the first game. The first time is Crumbling Castle (see "Wham Episode" below). When you return to the present, you then have to deal with TV Tower, which is merely a front for Specter Land. In 2, you make it to Code C.H.I.M.P after defeating Red Monkey, only for Giant Yellow Monkey to crash the party, forcing Specter to retreat. You do get to confront Specter one level later on the Moon Base though.
    • Actually, three times. There's also the end of Specter Land: Monkey Madness. After this, you have to go back and capture all the remaining monkeys before the true final boss.
  • Decoy Protagonist / Jack-of-All-Trades: Inverted and Subverted in the 3rd game.
    • Jack-of-All-Trades is played with, due to the choice of player character: Satoru's a sports-nut, which makes him the fastests of the two, while Sayaka is somewhat slower, but is blessed with a fan-base who got a few monkies in it. Besides that both play the same.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Every single game uses this trope.
  • Evil Albino: Specter.
    • Subverted in the PlayStation Move game. See The Woobie below.
  • Expy: The characters of the PlayStation Move games seem to be this to the ones of the original series:
  • Fartillery: Monkey Red. He can even fly with it.
  • The Faceless: You never see a full front shot of the protagonist's head in any of the cutscenes in the PlayStation Move game. You see his mouth for one scene but that's it.
  • Five-Man Band: The Freaky Monkey Five, in addition to being the Quirky Miniboss Squad. They fit this more than the Five-Bad Band, for some reason.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • The monkey fables in the second game. Good God. One of them manages to use the word "Damn".
    • Monkey Yellow.
    • In one of the early levels in the first game (Dark Ruins), four of the monkeys are named after the kids from South Park. One of them is named "Cratman". Why they misspelled his name and not the others, nobody really knows...
    • Ape Escape 3 features a level that takes place in a hot spring. Depending on if the player picked Kei or Yumi, they can only enter the male or female section of the hot spring. In the male section, there is a monkey that is attempting to climb up a wall, likely wanting to sneak a peek at the girl monkeys.
  • Gonk: Monkey Yellow.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: You only need to catch a certain number of monkeys in each level to advance, but to unlock the final boss fight, you need to capture every single monkey in the game.
  • G-Rated Drug: Vita-Z bananas, which apparently act like steroids with the side effect of total, complete insanity.
  • The Hat Makes the Man: The Hat Makes the Ape? All the apes (with the exception of Pipotchi in the second game) have their personalities altered by the Peak Point helmets.
  • Heel-Face Turn: At the end of the PlayStation Move game, upon being re-united with his owner Haru, Specter is more than happy to be with her and her grandchildren, and they take him home to give him a bath.
  • Heroic Mime: To a degree, Spike when you unlock him upon catching all the monkeys with Jimmy. He has lines, but no interactions with any of the characters.
    • The main character of the PlayStation Move game is this, to the point where his dialogue in the cutscenes is text only.
  • Heroic Willpower: How Spike wards off Specter's psychic probing in the penultimate battle against him from the first game. Why he's unable to do the same in the third game is unknown.
    • It may be because he wasn't expecting it. He was just watching tv when it happened and didn't know he was being brainwashed, so he didn't put any resistance to it.
  • Idiot Hero: Jimmy has shades of it. Most notably, he's the one who accidentally sends a shipment of pipo helmets to the zoo, setting off the plot of ''2''.
  • Idol Singer: Monkey Pink, and Yumi from the third game. It's a Running Gag that the heroes keep screwing up Pink's concerts.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Some of the main tools in your arsenal are a butterfly net, a hula hoop, an RC car, a slingshot, and a boxing glove attached to a spring.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Magic Punch from the first two games.
  • Inherently Funny Words: You know, saying "monkey" that much was already making everyone giggle. But when "monkey pants" were a prominent part of the second game...
  • Innocent Innuendo: At the end of the second game, before the hunt for hidden monkeys starts, Jimmy cries out "I'm gonna spank you, monkey!" while capturing Specter.
  • It's All About Me: Dr. Tomoki, much to Specter's dismay.
  • Large Ham: Specter is this in the UK dub.
  • Lighter and Softer: The aforementioned anime.
  • Monkey Behind the Monkey: The ending of the PlayStation Move game implies that the monkeys (who were descended from monkeys launched into space and eventually evolved and devolved into their current state) were behind the invasion of Earth on their own free will, not Specter's. They decide life is boring without him and invade Earth again and kidnap him.
  • Marathon Level: The final few levels of all three games are significantly larger than those that came before them. This actually corresponds with an increase in difficulty, as larger areas = more hiding places for monkeys.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The third game consists entirely of Mecha-Mooks. With large glowing wind-up dials on their backs.
  • The Mole: The Pipotrons, apart from Helga's suspicions, no one knew their true intentions.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Oh dear Specter, let me count the ways. White Hair, Black Heart/Evil Albino? Check. Evil Genius Mad Scientist? Check. Not really a human but not quite an animal either? Check. Evil army at his disposal that bows to his every will? Sits atop a bad ass flying throne? Looks good in a suit? Oh baby, check please!
  • Nintendo Hard: Several instances throughout the series, but the last level of the first game is particularly egregious.
  • No OSHA Compliance: There's usually a factory level in most games.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Jimmy of all people delivers one to Specter below finally snagging him with the Gotcha Net.
    Specter: "Come on now, surely you can't refuse the chance to be ruled by superior beings?!"
    Jimmy: "You got us wrong. You don't know anything about us..."
    Specter: "What?!"
    Jimmy: "Humans never stop trying! That's what gives us a future! We'll never give into the likes of you!"
    Specter: "Give up - you don't stand a chance."
    (dramatic staredown as Specter prepares to activate the Lethargy Laser)
    Jimmy: "Yaaaah!! Specteerrrr!!! Gotchaaa!!" (catches Specter)
    Specter: "Gyaaahh!! Nooo!! I was so close...!!"
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Specter (again)
  • Pointless Bandaid: Jimmy, the protagonist of 2, wears one on his nose. Slightly justified, considering he could get injured trying to catch the monkeys.
  • Psychic Powers: Monkey Pink, when angered, turns into the monkey answer to Carrie.
  • Put on a Bus / What Happened to the Mouse?: Roughly half of the main cast from the first game (Spike/Kakeru, Jake/Hiroki, and Casi/Charu) are missing from the events of Ape Escape 2. While it can be surmised that Spike and Jake had better things to do or were away at the time (Spike reappears during the true ending to greet Natalie, the Professor, Pipotchi, and Jimmy, but oddly knows of Specter's wrongdoings throughout the game), Casi was a PC program in the form of a human girl who worked at the lab. There's even a photo of Natalie and Casi posing together. Unlockable sketches and concept art suggest that all of these characters were going to be included in the second game at some point, perhaps with some role in the story. Pumped & Primed introduces us to Helga/Haruka, heroine and Implied Love Interest of Spike. She too goes missing after the game. In 3, Spike, Jimmy, and the Professor are Brainwashed by Specter, rendering them inactive during the story. Luckily, all of the above characters (with the sad exception of Jimmy and Pipotchi) make a grand reappearance either in the anime or in Million Monkeys.
    • All of the characters (except Specter) might be gone now, as the PlayStation Move game has a completely different storyline with new characters. We'll have to wait and see if they decide to continue this new story or not.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Freaky Monkey Five.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Dr. Tomoki, except not really.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Specter. Also, Jake when under the influence of Specter.
  • Redheaded Hero: Spike (although he does have yellow streaks), Jimmy, and Yumi.
  • Regional Bonus: The Ratchet Monkey is only in the Japanese and European versions of 3.
  • Repeat Cut: When you finally catch Specter in the first game, it's shown from three different angles.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: All sorts of things spew coins and energy (and monkeys, on the rare occasion) when you smash them to bits with your club.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Pipotchi. Specter, when he's not under the influence of the Peak Point Helmet, is also quite adorable and huggable. He also looks like this in the PlayStation Move title, due to the Art Shift and being The Woobie.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Jake (named Buzz in PAL territories, probably to better fit "Spike") from the first game and Pumped and Primed.
  • Sequel Escalation: While not as bad as other series about it, each of the games has more monkeys to catch than the last. The first game has 204, the second has 297 (Japanese version) or 300 (US version), and the third game has 434 (plus 8 that can be added through codes).
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the PlayStation Move game, the Space!Monkeys return to Earth and kidnap Specter. Tsukushi and Tohko inform tell their brother to go and rescue him.
  • Ship Tease: Between Spike/Kakeru and Helga/Haruka. Both the anime and Pumped & Primed make this very clear.
    • The anime also provides us with Jake/Hiroki and Natalie/Natsumi.
  • Shout-Out: The third game has quite a few, being based on movies and whatnot. Not to mention Mesal Gear Solid. Metal Gear Solid 3 returned the favor.
    • The 3rd game includes cheats the play has to input in the main menu and then load the game with the corresponding save that gave you the code. After that you will unlock different monkeys in different cameo clothing. Two of them are straight references to the first two games while one other is a reference to Rachet And Clank.
    • The previous games stuff them in the monkey and enemy descriptions as well.
    • The first game has 4 monkeys named Stan, Kyle, Cratman, and Kenny. They are all in the same level.
    • The second game has plenty of monkeys named after Star Wars characters on the Moon Base, one of whom is frozen in carbonite. The same game also has a wizard wearing Mickey Mouse's Sorcerer outfit and a monkey called Goku Flying On A Cloud and attacking with a pole.
    • The snowmobile in the second game is Robbit.
  • Stealth-Based Game: Sort of. You have to crawl around to catch monkeys unawares, otherwise they'll run away and/or fire their weapons at you. But even then, it's entirely possible to catch most monkeys just by running around enough, especially if you abuse the hell out of the Super Hoop.
    • In Ape Escape 3, you can buy a minigame named Mesal Gear Solid where you play as a monkey-fied Snake trying to save an abducted Snake.
      • Both Ape Escape 3 and Metal Gear Solid 3 were worked on/released around the same time (Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance was) and they both decided: "Hey, let's make minigames based on eachother's games!" As stated above, Ape Escape 3 featured a Metal Gear Solid minigame and Metal Gear Solid 3 featured an Ape Escape minigame.
  • Steve Blum: As Monkey Yellow.
    • It's not entirely surprising, given that a character voiced by him is currently the main pic for Camp Gay...
  • Tank Goodness: You get to control at least one in all 3 games.
  • Time Travel: You do this for all of the levels in the 1st game.
  • Tomorrowland: Dr. Tomoki's Tomoki City level in 3.
  • True Final Boss: The final battle is unlocked after capturing every monkey in the game.
  • Tsundere: Monkey Pink takes this to ridiculous levels, going so far as to change her fighting style depending on what mood she's in.
    • Tsukushi and Tohko, the protagonist's sisters from the PlayStation Move title are this to some extent too.
  • Ur Example: Is the first game to explicitly use the dual shock analog sticks.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The final level of each game is extremely long and considerably harder than anything encountered before then.
  • Wham Episode: Crumbling Castle. Though it seems like the last level, no sooner do you reach Specter and Jake before they ditch you, leaving you to fight an armored warrior. Then you get transported back to the present day where the monkeys are already in charge of the city and The Professor and Natalie have been kidnapped.
    • Also, when Natsumi and the Professor are kidnapped atop TV Tower.
      • The Wham Episode of the 3rd one happens twice: 1st is during the intro of the game, explaining why the new protagonists have to do what to do, while the 2nd explains a certain villians past.
    • Million Monkeys makes no attempt whatsoever to hide that it is a very different game than the rest. To put it into perspective, the Goliath mechas that serve as the Final Boss of the first two games were usually incomplete or flawed. In Million Monkeys, a boss fight against a fully-functional Goliath is the first mission.
  • Womb Level: Dexter's Island.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Jake, Kei, and the PlayStation Move protagonist are standouts here. Casi has green hair instead.

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