Hail to Chimp release date couldn’t be placed better as the American Presidential race is narrowing down to the last two candidates. Just like the American population putting their faith in a new leader, Gamecock Media Group puts their faith into Wideload games ambitious party game. Hail to the Chimp is anything but normal with its animalistic political satire. Opening the gate to the cage, we investigate the box with the blue monkey.
Hail to the Chimp's comical approach introduces the player to its unique game concept through a politically charged storyline. Based around finding a new king for the animal kingdom, the player takes part in the election process that features the other animals around the globe who are trying their hand (or should I say clam) at democracy. Crowning a new animal king needs a impartial rating system which cues in the clams that serve as the official count for the election. Each animal that put their name in the hat is out for some chowder and you will battle it out with the contestants in a number of basic beat em' up mini-games until a new king is crowned.
Creating a politically themed party game isn’t the first game idea that you would think of hitting a million gaming units, however if you’re not overly concerned with overall mass appeal then Hail to the Chimp has its own niche appeal. From the developers behind the Xbox sleeper hit Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel without a Pulse, Wideload Games could be the only company out of left field with another underground hit. Developed for the "next-gen" platforms, Wideload Games puts just enough visual flair in the game to pass it off as a next-gen title, but behind the scenes Hail to Chimp feels anything but next-gen.
The catch phrase often used by Gamecock to explain the gaming in Hail to the Chimp is ‘frenzied multi-player free-for-all’ and guess what? That is exactly what Hail to the Chimp is... one messed up frenzy of a multiplayer game. Without slagging the Chimp too much, you only need to hammer out a few minutes in the game to find out about the frenzied free-for-all. The root gameplay in Hail to the Chimp is button mash, run around in circles and try and make sense out of the madness. At first ‘Chimp’ feels a little overwhelming with cluster filled screens of action and weak one liners coming from every direction, but with a little more persistence you will start to see the clam through the shell. Deducing what is actually is happening is half the battle and once that is done you can work on the rules of the match, and the game.
Clamming up the Ballet Box
It’s true that Hail to the Chimp is simple to get once you are rolling, in basics all you do is collect clam shells and drop them in your ballet box. For controls each action like attacking, jumping, and interacting is mapped to one button. Hail to the Chimp also features a teaming up function that can be helpful if you are loosing a match. To team up all you do is a hit one button near the candidate you want to pair up with and then you can use team attacks and the numbers game to overwhelm you opponents. It’s not necessary to use the team up function, but its there. For the majority of the time that I spent with the Chimp I was really focused on dogging attacks and grabbing those clams. Attacks and team attacks only really seemed crucial when that one smarter A.I. opponent was pulling ahead. Besides the one brainiac per level, the other players felt like they didn’t want to be in the race as they could be ignored during the game.
Spongebob for President
So, Hail to the Chimp is extremely straight forward an accessible which is great when plotting the seeds of a party game, so why the politics? The diversity and originality comes into play here, and while the Chimp is interesting on one level, it also creates a problem in they way the project was pieced together. Half of Chimp's appeal screams to a younger audience, but then they are alienated with a satire that is set up for adults. The cartoon-ish graphics and fun characters design is enough to peak some interest, so why add a bunch of jokes around politics? The last time I checked the younger generation aren't fans of politicians, but more something the speed of SpongeBob. On the other side, Hail to the Chimp is marketed towards adults.... sure I guess we can handle the cell-shaded graphics and the ridiculously zany characters... we all enjoy a little Wario once and a while, so what’s with the brain dead gameplay? If one thing is true, Hail to Chimp is as confused as the turtle hosting the whole event on the mock TV network, GRR.
Meet the Candidates
In total Hail to Chimp features ten animals that are competing to be the next king. Here are look at a few of the candidates from Hail to the Chimp... I’ll give you half and you can be introduced to the rest if you pick up the Chimp. For starters we have Santo the traffic dogging armadillo, charismatic Ptolemy the hippopotamus, Murgatroyd the humming pink squid, Australian native Daisy the shirt wearing platypus and the former dock foreman Floyd the walrus. In perspective the ten candidates have a good amount of in-depth personality. I admire Wideload going for gold in design, but at times it like they where trying too hard. Aside from being victims to an obvious caffeine addiction, Hail to the Chimp's comedy is hit and miss. The amount you enjoy the political insight, or jokes really depends on your taste in humor. Laughter is a tough response to pull off all the time, but I’ll give to the Chimp for trying.
One area where Hail to the Chimp stands out from the rest of the game is the dynamic use of the TV Network to convey the storyline to the player. Set up with out takes from other programming, the broadcasts can be the funniest parts of the game. The comical flair from the Chimp lends itself beautifully to the cartoon inspired graphics. This version of cell-shading is a little rough around the edges compared to some the smoothed down art style that you normally see in a cell-shaded game. I liked how Wideload cut up the graphics and made the overall look feel a little more edgy.
The audio comes in a wavering back and forth being good in a bad way, and bad in bad way. I enjoyed the musical score during the game, although it didn't have too much variety. Where Hail to the Chimp sinks is the uninspiring sound effects that seem to be a few gaming generations behind and the so-so quality of the voice over work. I can take the quality of the voicing cast with stride in the name of humor, but it can only get you so far. I think a more charged soundtrack and possibly a more focused script could have helped the audio come together better.
Rick Stults from Gamecock Media Group said “Gamers complain about the lack of innovation and originality in video games. Hail to the Chimp is the antidote” well, Hail to the Chimp might have the originality down with its politically charged storyline; however the gameplay lacks innovation and originality outside of the zany characters and network television presentation. Like the stereotypical politician, Hail to the Chimp promised more than it can deliver. Hopefully, Wideload will pack away the monkey business and get back to things that matter, like brain eating zombies and clever nostalgic gameplay.
Gameplay: 4, Graphics:6.5, Sound:4, Innovation:5, Mojo:4 Final: 4.7 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 07.28.08