Review: Griptonite Games Chimps Ahoy
On August 5, 2008, iLounge published iPhone Gems: Games to Show Off Apple's Devices, a feature article looking at six games that interestingly showed off the iPhone OS. Today, we are rating these games in separate reviews. This review focuses on Griptonite Games' Chimps Ahoy (
$5 $10) ; you can read the full article, with screenshots of all of the games together, through the link above.
Back when we originally covered Chimps Ahoy, Griptonite Games was selling it for $10—a bit too much to pay for a simple block-breaking Breakout clone. Our comment then was that we didn’t know that it was worth the $10 asking price, which struck us as steep, but we were definitely struck by the title’s art style.
Those familiar with Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker title for the GameCube will instantly understand where Chimps Ahoy is coming from visually. Nintendo’s Wind Waker was somewhat controversial when it was first shown, simultaneously putting off half of the famous series’ fans while energizing a number of others. The cartoony art style was highly stylized, completely rejecting the increasing realism found in popular games of the time; it used obviously repeating textures, eye-catching hand-drawn puffs of smoke rather than transparent clouds, and characters who were diminutive versions of their former selves. Sales of the game were nowhere near as strong as Nintendo had hoped, but the game sent a message that there were alternatives—possibly not popular ones—to competing in the reality simulation domain.
Chimps Ahoy brings a lot of that art style to the iPhone. It’s what Breakout would be if Paul Frank got his hands on it, with monkey-iconed paddles on both sides of the screen and target blocks to break in the center. Backgrounds and other on-screen items, as in Zelda’s Wind Waker edition, are nautically themed, with a hip, post-Disney cartoony style. The only gameplay twist here is that you’re supposed to control both paddles at once to prevent the coconut ball from leaving the screen. Whether or not this interests you, the visuals demonstrate how a very simple game can be updated with stylized graphics in a consistent, colorful theme to become appealing to a new demographic of players. Griptonite also includes a real soundtrack, with nice themed music and sound effects, to help keep the stages interesting.
The only issue we had with Chimps Ahoy was the fact that it remains “a very simple game,” despite the glossy visuals. As modestly compelling as Breakout clones are these days, there’s something even less compelling about a title that requires you to be on both ends of the screen for paddling, keeps much of the action slow, and offers purchasable monkey clothing as the primary incentive to keep playing from stage to stage. We were more excited by the gameplay in Break Classic, though the aesthetics here clearly received a lot more attention, a fact which significantly helped to elevate the rating into our “good” category. At the current $5 price, we consider this game worthy of our general recommendation; our hope is that the developers’ next title puts as much into the gameplay department as it does into the visuals and audio.