Code Monkeys’ Manic Monkey Mayhem has already been a big hit on WiiWare, with its multiplayer modes winning particular praise. However, due to Sony’s ban on multiplayer modes in minis, the minis version is left to stand or fall on its single-player gameplay.
Ultimately, how entertaining you find that single-player gameplay depends very much on your sense of humor. If you’re not a fan of silly games, it’s probably not for you. For the rest of us, it’s a mildly-diverting piece of banana-flinging fluffy fun.
The über-silliness starts right from the opening screen, where you have eight crazy monkeys to choose from, and some pretty funny descriptions of each character to read.
Once you’ve selected your favorite monkey, you then have to complete the comprehensive banana-throwing, platform-hopping, catching, and dodging tutorial in order to unlock any other parts of the game. It’s all totally silly of course, but it’s actually not as easy as it looks, particularly when you’re trying to catch bananas that are coming at you from all angles.
Although you do occasionally have to jump between platforms, Manic Monkey Mayhem is not really a platform game as such, it’s much more about timing the length, strength, and accuracy of your throws, and about dodging incoming missiles.
The main controls that you need to get familiar with are X to throw an object, triangle to catch something that’s thrown at you, O to climb and shake trees to get more banana ammo, analog stick to turn, directional buttons to either dodge a flung object or to put some spin on a missile you’ve chucked yourself, and L or R to jump onto unoccupied platforms. You’ll find that all the controls are pretty responsive and won’t take you too long to master, either on PS3 or PSP.
There are four gameplay modes in total: Campaign, Greatest Ape, Minute Monkey and Ape Team. Campaign is a traditional mission-style game with three difficulty levels, each of which has ten stages, so there’s a lot to get your teeth into. Most of them are based on familiar online gameplay modes, such as Survival, where you have to last until the time runs out without throwing anything at the other monkeys, or Deathmatch, where you can fling bananas to your heart’s content in a bid to be the last monkey standing. I particularly liked One On One Banana Fight, where it’s just you and a.n.other monkey facing off against each other. It’s pretty funny!
The other standalone gameplay modes are basically more variations on the same theme: in Greatest Ape you start with a small stockpile of bananas and 3 lives and try to be the last monkey standing; in Minute Monkey you have unlimited lives and try to get the highest score against the clock; and Ape Team features two teams of monkeys, with the object being to eliminate all the opposition simians.
There are eight different playing environments in all, including a graveyard level, an ice level, a lava level and a desert level, among others. They’re all fairly simple but bright and cartoony. They start to look a bit “PSOne” on the PS3 though, but they look just fine on the PSP. The monkeys are all really cute and will make you laugh with their constant scratching and capering antics. Or they might not, if you don’t like that sort of thing!
On the minus side, the lack of a multiplayer mode means that the game has lost what many consider to be its strongest feature when being ported over to the PSP and PS3, but don’t let that put you off as it’s still good for a few days of fun gameplay at a reasonable price.
Generally speaking, Manic Monkey Mayhem is just a light-hearted fun game for the sort of people who think that hitting cartoon monkeys on the head with a coconut and hearing them squeal is funny! It’s slapstick, pure and simple.
It certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are lots of different modes and levels to explore, making it sound value for money for all those crazy people out there who fancy a spot of banana flinging every now and then.