Collect, Use, Repeat
The recent heated race for the Democratic Presidential nomination seems to have put politics on the forefront of many gamers’ minds. Historically, video games and politics haven’t mixed well, with the pastime becoming the favorite scapegoat of many politicians.
As with virtually every other form of media that has come before it, video games found themselves in a struggle to avoid censorship and to enlighten the masses of their true potential. With all the abuse video games have taken from politicians over the years, Gamecock’s latest release instantly brings the phrase “turnabout is fair play” to mind. Hail to the Chimp seemingly strikes back against these numerous injustices by making a mockery of the presidential election process. This game is completely overflowing with political satire, which is displayed in everything from its over-the-top characters to its ridiculous mini-games objectives. While the quality of the included jokes and puns can vary greatly, the majority are actually quite amusing. Even the menu screen attempts to keep you laughing, with the CNN-spoofing GRR news program constantly providing you with comical commercials and news segments.
Unfortunately, once you get past this satirical comedy, what you are left with isn’t all that appealing. Hail to the Chimp is a limited compilation of mini-games that are all loosely based on different aspects of getting votes. These mini-games will have you doing everything from winning favor by smearing your competitors with negative headlines to collecting campaign funds from fat cats (literally). While there are over a dozen different mini-games to choose from, eventually the painful realization sets in that they are all essentially the same.
Apparently, in the world of Hail to the Chimp, clams somehow play a major role in choosing a president. Although each mini-games gives you a slightly different reason for doing so, collecting clams will be your main objective in every outing. These clams are the ultimate currency in this game, being used for everything including stuffing ballot boxes, purchasing campaign contributions, and even as your health. Any time you run out of clams your character becomes incredibly fragile, only requiring one hit to kill. Thankfully, clams aren’t very difficult to come by and will continue to appear throughout matches; even if there are no clams to be found on the ground, players can always find more by beating them out of their opponents.
Sadly, the actual mechanics involved in playing this game are just as limited as its objectives. Players are only able to move, jump, attack, interact with a few objects, and team up with an opponent. Attacks are incredibly basic and become increasingly more difficult to time properly. Early in the game you will have no problems beating your enemies senseless, but later on it seems as though your foes’ attacks always land first. This becomes immensely frustrating very quickly, since there is really no way to avoid combat. Object interaction is also fairly limited and is usually just a means to exchange your collected clams towards your current objective.
Teaming up with enemies can sometimes prove to be tricky but is often rather helpful. Players will need to press a button to declare they are interested in teaming up and then get within close proximity of another player. That player can then either accept your invitation or simply just attack you for trying. There are a few different versions of team attacks, but instead of being able to choose the one that would best suit your current situation, the game will just randomly choose one for you. However, the benefits of team attacks far outweigh these issues, as they are virtually unstoppable once initiated and can quickly turn the tide of almost any game.
The A.I. tends to be the biggest drawback to performing team attacks and is perhaps this game’s greatest weakness. Every mini-games includes four players, so if you are playing alone the other three are controlled by the computer. Usually there is one character who is exceptionally good that will be very difficult to keep from winning even when you focus all your efforts on stopping them.
However, the other two characters are often dumber than a box of rocks and can almost be completely ignored. These characters seem to wander aimlessly, not really attempting to complete the current mini-game’s objective. On a few occasions, I’ve actually witnessed said characters walking into walls for over a minute at a time. The combination of one insanely good enemy and two complete duds makes playing through mini-games an immensely unbalanced affair.
Nowhere in the game are its flaws more visible than in its campaign mode. The single-player campaign consists of several levels, each focusing on a specific candidate. Every level is made up of groups of three to nine mini-games, with the winner being determined by the total amount of votes collected from all of the events. Since you are required to finish in first to proceed to the next level, battling with your one unnaturally excellent adversary quickly becomes frustrating. There is virtually nothing more painful than finishing in a very close second in a level and having to replay through the same nine mini-games again in hopes of victory.
Fortunately, the multiplayer does fare slightly better in this title. Every arena and mini-game is selectable, allowing you to avoid your least favorite objectives and backdrops. Players are also able to play against human opponents both online and locally, eliminating the immense frustrations caused by the game’s terrible A.I. controlled foes. Regrettably, even with these slight improvements, Hail to the Chimp’s gameplay is still far too similar and repetitive to really enjoy.
With its appealing cartoony visuals, funny political satire, and collection of humorous unlockable videos, Hail to the Chimp isn’t a complete bust. If it didn’t suffer from overly repetitive gameplay, ridiculously unbalanced A.I., and had a bit more variety, this game honestly could have been a lot more fun. As it stands though, Hail to the Chimp is fairly disappointing. If you think you can cope with this game’s many issues and find political satire humorous, then perhaps this game will appeal to you. However, for everyone else I would strongly suggest looking elsewhere for your mini-game fill.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
While there is nothing particularly amazing about this game’s visuals, the cartoony graphics look great and suit the game perfectly. 2.3 Control
Attacking and jumping properly can often prove difficult, especially during particularly busy events. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Great voice work combines with excellent comedic timing to keep players laughing at most of this game’s jokes. 2.0 Play Value
Although multiplayer is slightly more enjoyable than the annoying single-player experience, both lack variety and are far too repetitive to actually enjoy for more than a couple of hours. 2.5 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.