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Hail to the Chimp

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Gamecock Media Group
Developer: Wideload Games

About Brad Hilderbrand

I've been covering the various facets of gaming for the past five years and have been permanently indentured to WorthPlaying since I borrowed $20K from Rainier to pay off the Russian mob. When I'm not furiously writing reviews, I enjoy RPGs, rhythm games and casual titles that no one else on staff is willing to play. I'm also a staunch supporter of the PS3.

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PS3/X360 Preview - 'Hail to the Chimp'

by Brad Hilderbrand on Feb. 27, 2008 @ 6:30 a.m. PST

Hail to the Chimp is a party game where players battle one another to become the new leader of the Animal Kingdom. Players use the game’s unique team-up mechanic, balancing cooperation with competition, to claw their way to victory.

Genre: Party/Minigames
Publisher: Gamecock
Developer: Wideload Games
Release Date: May 2008

One thing your high school science classes never taught you is that the animal kingdom is ruled by a representative democracy. I suppose that omission can be forgiven, as the animals just recently converted to this system and are in the midst of their very first election. At least, that's the story that Gamecock would like you to believe in Hail to the Chimp, their upcoming satirical game.

You see, King Leo has been deposed after a string of embarrassments, and your chosen character wishes to take the reins of government. This is not an uncontested election, however, as the other "candidates" are all out there trying to sway the very same voters and rig the very same system that you are. In order to claim victory, you'll be playing several minigames that range from planting yard signs to destroying rigged voting machines, all in a fast-paced Mario Party-style arena. For example, in one game, your objective is to collect the most clam votes and hold onto your vote lead for two minutes. Clams are a fickle lot, though, and your opponents will constantly attack you in an attempt to dislodge the clams from your grasp so they may claim those votes as their own.

Each event is technically a free-for-all, but it is possible to team up with another player for a limited period of time. One player (humans and computers can team up) can press B to signal his or her intentions to form a temporary alliance, and if another player joins up, then they can unleash a devastating special attack. All benefits earned during this time together are halved, allowing you to share the glory with another. So, while the games may be simple and frenetic, there is a degree of strategy involved in joining forces with another player in order to take down the current leader.

Tying the whole gag together is GNN, an animal news station anchored by Chumley the Woodchuck. Chumley and his studio crew are constantly on hand to provide "thoughtful" analysis and coverage of the race. When the coverage goes to "commercial," you are treated to amusing show promos and outrageous attack ads. Better still, once you've unlocked these spots, you can go back at any time and watch them in a slick, ingenious TV Guide-style display. It's obvious that a lot of thought went into the way the game would be presented, and the developers have really excelled in skewering the downright obsessive media coverage of all things political.

On top of all the unlockable TV content, Hail to the Chimp also allows you to dress your characters with pieces of flair. While these are purely cosmetic, think of them as badges of honor, with items like a snorkel and mask for falling into the water several times.

The title is satirical and subversive throughout, but it's never mean-spirited. The animal candidates don't represent any specific personalities from this, or any past election, so there's no need to think they're trying to make "Obama the sly fox" or "Clinton the Dragon." Furthermore, the cartoony style conveys a sense of good-natured ribbing rather than a serious agenda. The whole process represents more of a send-up of the circus, and the game has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek at all times.

While the Wii has plenty of party games to choose from, there aren't that many for the Xbox 360 and PS3. With Hail to the Chimp, instead of getting a fairly standard and boring titles, gamers are being treated to a seriously fun and funny title. With a $39.99 price point, how can you go wrong? The team is still working on tightening up a few things and taking care of some balancing issues, but they're still confident that they'll make their May release date.


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