Barrels of Fun: Video Gaming with Monkeys

Video games and monkeys, such an interesting combination - and when one looks at the history of video games it is easy to see that simians have had a very strong influence and presence in the industry since its earliest days.

The Legacy of Kong

If you play video games, then chances are you know of the super monkey video game icon - Donkey Kong. That giant tie-wearing gorilla has been one of Nintendo's top gaming icons since its earliest days and still consistently appears in a wide variety of first party titles for the developer.

DK goes way back - all the way to Mario's very first videogame appearance. Donkey Kong -both the original ape and game, started out as an arcade cabinet superstar, changing the way players looked at games. Indeed, during a time when almost every other game was named something like Space Destroyers or Sky Wars, a bright young developer from a Japanese company decided that it was time for something new.

Players quickly adapted to the new genre -the platformer and its iconic characters, the overalls-wearing Mario and his abused little pet, Donkey Kong. The objective of the game was to rescue Mario's girlfriend from Donkey Kong (who apparently has grown tired of being Mario's pet). But why did DK resort to kidnapping and throwing barrels? The answers actually lie in Donkey Kong Jr, which served as the game's sequel. In Jr, players took on the role of the young Donkey Kong Jr, and the main objective is to rescue the recaptured Donkey Kong from Mario (who uses a whip on the big ape). It all gets very confusing as Nintendo has inserted no dialogues or narrations to the game itself.

On a side note, most people will notice that the original Donkey Kong did not wear a necktie - that was a trademark of Donkey Kong Jr, which means that the ape which makes appearances in new Nintendo titles such as Super Smash Brothers is actually the grown up version of DK Jr. Indeed, while it was the senior kong who first appeared in games, it was his son that has managed to claim stardom

Donkey Kong Jr first got the starring role in Donkey Kong Country, a side scrolling platformer for the Super Famicom (also known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System) developed by Nintendo and Rare. The game was highly acclaimed for its innovative 3D-looking graphics and well animated sprites. After this success, DK Jr would later appear in his own rhythm game and guest star in several Nintendo titles.

Sega's Side of the Story

While Nintendo capitalized on its great big ape, Sega took a much more restrained route with the Super Monkey Ball series. Originally launched as an arcade standalone game, Monkey Ball featured three simian heroes; Ai-Ai, Mee-Mee and Baby. Together, these three little monkeys relied on the player to help get them to the various stage goals.

The gameplay of Monkey Ball was highly praised by developers -the concept of controlling the stage instead of the character allowed players to have a different insight on the game itself. Players now performed the role of an interactive onlooker, helping guide the lead character instead of controlling them directly. The game is played by tilting the stage, this would then cause the Monkey Ball to roll around. The goal is the bring the ball to specific area of the stage under a set amount of time while avoiding various obstacles.

Sega's arcade system was so successful that it did not take long for the super monkey games series to transition from to the console. The Nintendo Gamecube and the Nokia N-Gage were among the first home systems to have the game. Later installments would appear for the Playstation 2, Playstation Portable, the Nintendo DS and just recently, the Apple iPhone/iPad, and the Nintendo 3DS. According to Sega, a version of the game is also due to be released for the upcoming Playstation Vita. Since its first appearance, there has been 15 installments of Super Monkey Ball -not counting the upcoming Vita edition.

For the consoles, the three chimps are joined by GonGon, and the game takes on a variety of gameplay styles. Aside from the regular puzzle rolling style of gaming, Super Monkey Ball also features race-type courses where speed and accuracy of controls take centerstage. Super Monkey Ball also appears as a special minigame in the Sega Superstars minigame-collecton.

While the console versions provide a bit of variety, the core gameplay of Super Monkey Ball has stayed the same throughout the years. And while this may not seem like a good thing, the opposite is true -fans love the series for sticking true to its original form, and many find the gameplay to so well done that there really is nothing much that can be improved about it.

The New Era of Sony's Escaped Apes

The Playstation One was a veritable treasure box of many gaming firsts -the first console to utilize force feedback (vibration) technology and the first system to introduce dual-analog sticks. To bring it all together, Sony also created a game the heavily used the new controller's features: Ape Escape!

Originally launched in Japan as Saru! Get You!, this new 3D action-adventure platformer introduced us to a world overrun by silly little apes equipped with Peak Point helmets -devices that increased their intelligence and thus allowed them to do much more mischief than they normally can. Armed with a time net and a variety of tools, the players must stun and surprise the monkeys, individually catching them in various locations all over the world. Oh and we almost forgot to mention, since the monkeys have a hold of a time machine, they are also littered all across time as well! The game is fun, lighthearted and quite challenging for gamers of all skill levels, and it is no wonder that the very first game was an immediate success.

As one would expect, the success of the series has seen Ape Escape resurface with sequels and spin offs on a variety of Sony proprietary devices. The Playstation 2 release of Ape Escape featured even more monkey variants, more locations and even more tools for monkey hunting. The PSP version brought the game to handheld devices -allowing you to enjoy ape hunts on-the-go. Ape Escape has also made an impact on a variety of Japanese game developers, and the monkeys cameo in other games such as Monster Rancher, Little Big Planet and Metal Gear Solid. Ape Escape's gameplay has seen plenty of variations as well, in Ape Quest (released for the PSP), the game moves into a more contemporary RPG format, while in Eye Toy: Monkey Mania, the series becomes a fun children's game utilizing the Playstation Eye camera accessory.

PC Monkeys

While monkeys have had strong influences on the console gaming industry, a similar presence is also felt on the desktop computer. Enter the Monkey Island series - originally penned by the geniuses at Lucasarts (the same folks behind other successful point and click adventures such as Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and Sam & Max). Monkey Island was highly acclaimed for its impressive art quality, movie-quality character animations and excellent voice acting. The series quickly gained plenty of fans which allowed it to grow into the 4-part core Secret of Monkey Island series.

The Secret of Monkey Island followed the misadventures of self-proclaimed pirate, Guybrush Threepwood. He starts out as a young man simply seeking out a way to prove himself as a worthy pirate and on the way, surpasses trials that allows him to grow into the hero of the story. The story is cartoony and silly, yet it also hints at a slightly darker undertone. The island itself is full of mysteries -mostly surrounding voodoo magic and some silly monkey NPCs that heavily affect the story. There are plenty of ape-references in the game; some are subtle, while others are outlandishly obvious.

After the series' success, Lucasarts PC game development team slowly took a slightly new direction with games -leaving their point and click adventure titles behind and focusing more on delivering games based on Star Wars. It was not until 2009 that game developers Tell Tale Games has taken the reigns of the series to release the fifth part of the game: Tales of Monkey Island.

Tell Tale Games has been a closely linked developer to Lucasarts -they have handled the Lego Star Wars games for all console versions previously. With Tales of Monkey Island, they have now brought an entirely new chapter to the life of Guybrush and his wife, Elaine. Aside from adding a new chapter, Tell Tale has also changed the way the Monkey Island story is delivered. The new Tales of series is actually split into five different episodes -all of which released at different times starting at 2009 until 2011.

Bananas and Browser Gaming

Without a doubt, one of the largest and fastest growing video game mediums is the web browser. Since the introduction of Flash and HTML5, the number of people who play games on their browser has expanded to a tremendous count. This is highly attributed to the greater availability of internet access and the lure of social networking. Regardless of the reason, the web browser has become a powerful form of gaming media, and as one would expect, there are monkeys to be found even here.

Monkeys in browser games take on a variety of roles, from simply being visible to playing the role of the lead character -and they have also applied themselves to a wide range of gameplay types.

In the Bloons you have a super monkey games series, players are given a tower defense style game - but this time, the premise is different: you must set up defenses for popping balloons that are slowly rising to the top of the screen. And all this is done at the behest of a simian NPC who needs our help -apparently, these super monkeys really hate balloons. Balloons, unlike invading enemy forces, are easily moved and swayed by the air -and thus preparing balloon popping defenses will require a bit of creative thinking and careful planning in order to prevent as many of these air filled absurdities from reaching the apes.

Happy Go Monkey takes on a completely different of gameplay. The series takes players on a multitude of stage, each requiring you to figure out the situation, a goal and how to deliver a solution. The point and click challenges are heavily visual -rarely relying on text to explain or provide instructions on what to do. Basically, the whole point of the game is to keep the Monkey and his friends constantly happy -and this is done by solving the problems for each stage. This simple, yet surprisingly fun game brings out monkeys not as lead characters, but as companions that we take care of.

About the Super Monkey Games available on this site

We host all the games featuring super human crazy monkeys behaving in strange and bizarre ways. This includes a monkey that enjoys kicking a football super human distances, one that likes to fly spaceships and last but not least one that likes to burst balloons!

The latter is by far the most popular of the three monkeys with many crazy monkey games featuring this super monkey who can shoot darts at balloons, fire lasers out of his eyes and burst hundreds of balloons at once and can even fly through the air like super man!

Of all the games we host on our site, currently the most popular is Super Monkey Defense 4. Here you must building towers to stop balloons from escaping the track. By bursting the balloons you earn money and can save up to buy some impressive towers that can burst through hundreds of balloons in seconds. The most popular of these towers i the super monkey one which can be upgraded to a plasma burst shooting monkey. Here the monkey fires plasma from his eyes at the balloons completely annihilating everything in his vision.

Saving your money to buy more impressive towers in the super monkey games of tower defense is a rewarding experience. After many rounds struggling in any of the five games you can finally buy some powerful and superior defense mechanisms for your track. Of course super monkeys also feature in other towers than just the super monkey tower itself, but we do not want to spoil the surprise for you, play the game yourself to see what other towers are available.

The Super Monkey Game itself is like a fluffy conversion of the R-Type game on a toned down level. Here yu fly through the sky and pop the oncoming circles of balloons. As you collate more points you will be given the option to upgrade your arsenal to more impressive balloon bursting weapons. Starting off with a single dart doesn't seem much fun but you will be soon on your way to more power attacks before you know it.