Name: Hail to the Chimp
Genre: Party Game
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
With America nearing another presidential election the country is gearing up for the typical mudslinging that precedes the actual vote. Comedians are preparing for a few months of easy jokes, and Wideload Games has decided that it was the perfect time to release a satirical comedy based on the electoral process. The product they created, Hail to the Chimp, promised to take on the process in a fun, sarcastic way. Since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are short on party games (as opposed to the Wii, which is drowning in them), the game was set in a nice position to become to game of choice for gamers hoping to bring some laughter to their friendly battles.
Hail to the Chimp’s tongue has nearly bore a hole in its cheek, and the game relies too heavily on the novelty of a chimpanzee shoving clams into a ballot box for its own good. There’s a good chance that you might laugh the first time the announcer says that you must avoid the “Political Minefield” or escape the “Cloud of Controversy,” but the gameplay modes are all far too similar for the laughter to be more than a temporary distraction from the game’s many faults.
Every mode has you wandering around the levels collecting clams, depositing them at a station (or cat, or monkey, etc), and repeating the objective. Some cut out the latter step and work like a large-scale game of “keep away,” but all of the modes have clam collection in the forefront. There are several presentation issues with the game, such as the game not actually displaying your current clam-count in certain modes, and the title is more confusing than it is entertaining. This applies to both single and multiplayer, with the only differences being the location and flavor text.
Gameplay sits at an uncomfortable crossroads in-between Power Stone and Mario Party, but at the end of the day it is too far either to be any good. Controls are sloppy, and most of the game is spent running around levels with mediocre geometry and hit detection attacking enemies to steal their clams. Each of the ten characters has slightly different characteristics, but all of them are trying jump and smack their way to the top of Capitol Hill. Sadly, this doesn’t prove very fun after an hour or so of gameplay, and the novelty quickly wears off.
The only actual gameplay innovations lie in the title’s partnerships, allowing for two players to forge a temporary alliance to battle their opponents. The alliances add a little more strategy to the game and help the multiplayer, but do little in terms of spicing up the uninspired gameplay.
Hail to the Chimp has an interesting graphical style that gives the game a canvasy look, sort of like Okami. They are nice, and graphics are probably the highlight of the experience, but that isn't really saying much. The single player campaign has you blazing the campaign trail and running for the office as president of the animal kingdom, but even that wasn’t done right. Each section has you playing as a different character and completing (and repeating) missions. The fact that you cannot choose one character and work your way through the story like a fighting game is regrettable, as it would add some sense of a cohesive story to the game.
Instead, beating levels unlock television shows and campaign commercials which can be watched via a menu. These are treated like unlockables, but end up being far more entertaining than the game itself. If these videos were interspersed in-between the single-player campaign I would imagine it might actually be worth playing through, but because of the repetitive nature I can’t really recommend that anyone puts themselves through that. If the game were actually simplified and released as a downloadable title for the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, or Wiiware service it might be worth checking out, but as a full title, even at a discounted price, it isn’t worth the trip to the store.