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Ape Escape EyeToy party game due in spring

Saru EyeToy becomes EyeToy: Monkey Mania in Europe.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Sony's Ape Escape flavoured EyeToy party game is due out in Europe this spring. Known as Saru EyeToy in Japan, it's going to be called EyeToy: Monkey Mania over here and should be out on 18th March according to Sony's most recent release schedule.

Don't get too excited though, monkey-men, because despite sounding rather a lot like Mario Party - it's a four-player board game-style affair harbouring some 50 mini-games - has been created by the Sony Japan team behind Ape Escape firmly "with kids in mind".

The idea is to spin a roulette wheel and move around one of three courses (Bubble Island, Slippery Volcano, Rocket City) encountering penalty squares, traps, bonuses and other obstacles. As you go you'll compete in various of the 50 mini-games and befriend monkeys by winning. Monkeys can be used as a sort of currency to open paths to new stages, and buy traps at the Item Shop to set for your opponents, but they're also mischievous and won't always play ball.

The mini-games, activated when you land on a particular kind of square, all rely on the EyeToy camera, and apart from listing the names of all 50 (which we've included for the sake of completion at the bottom of this item) Sony's also identified a handful in some detail by way of example. Apart from encountering them in the board game aspect, you can also tackle them individually, although we imagine you'll have to unlock them first. Perhaps somebody who's played the Japanese version can shed some light?

Bomb hockey, first off, has you smashing a puck into a net in order to knock monkeys off their feet. The EyeToy will project the player's image onto the screen where they can interact with the on-screen antics in real-time.

Apparently Simian Stylist sees you encountering monkeys who have just woken up with terrible bed hair, and you have to use your hands to rearrange as many of their wigs as possible, avoiding those without wigs.

There's also Hide The Banana, which involves eating bananas surreptitiously at the back of class whilst the teacher is facing the blackboard. Get caught in the act and she chucks chalk at you, which is presumably a bad thing.

Another game is called Push and Shove, in which you compete with another player to push stacked boxes of explosives around without letting them fall and blow up monkeys on the ground.

Other games involve guiding a snowball along a mountain path, "running like the wind", and jamming with other players in a music session - perhaps in a similar manner to EyeToy: Play 2's Air Guitar sections. We hope so anyway, since those were pretty entertaining.

As you go around the board you'll need to watch out for Skull and Crossbones labelled mini-games, because if you don't complete those successfully you lose your monkey friends.

All of which sounds unmistakably like the sort of mini-game driven board game/party affair that the PS2 lacks, and ought to prove popular around Easter when it lands just in time for the holidays - or at least that's presumably what Sony's hoping for, having seen its most recent EyeToy titles fail to catch the attention of gamers at retail.

We'll take a closer look at EyeToy: Monkey Mania when it pitches up in March or thereabouts. In the meantime, here's the full list of mini-games...

  • Simian Stylist
  • Crash and Burn!
  • Hockey Havoc
  • Rolling Snowball
  • Buoyant Balloon
  • Jam Session
  • Down the Chute
  • Footprint Patrol
  • Endangered Species
  • Balloon Battle
  • Hide The Banana!
  • Peekaboo Pipo
  • Push and Shove
  • Barbells for Life
  • Monkeys at Work
  • Monkey Jumper
  • Bananas or Bust
  • Home Run
  • Smack the Monkey
  • The Great Ape Escape
  • Pant Puller
  • Ice Crusher
  • Scratch Silly
  • Coffee Carousel
  • Who Doesn't Belong?
  • Karate Master
  • Card Flinger
  • Ten Pin King
  • Bomb Hockey
  • Jam Session 2
  • Exploding Pant Challenge
  • Bust Out
  • Bust Out 2
  • Sillier Scratching
  • Crash and Burn 2
  • Crash and Cone
  • Snowball Long Haul
  • Rolling Stone
  • Buoyant Balloon 2
  • Deep-sea Diver
  • Balloons and Spikes
  • Column Jumper
  • Hop Skip Jump
  • Look Out Batter!
  • Fierce Tops
  • Who Doesn't Belong? 2
  • Ninja Monkeys
  • Target Bowler
  • MORE Bananas or Bust!
  • Run like the Wind

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