Rise of the Video Game Apes

Video game monkeys are taking over. We name some of the best.


As Dawn of the Planet of the Apes prepares to hit theaters tomorrow, we've decided to take a look at some of Caesar's counterparts in the video game realm. He's not the only one who can lead a revolution, after all. Sometimes it's obvious that some apes can't really handle the job (like the ones from Ape Escape, they can't even manage an effective slip from their captors), but these apes simians nevertheless earn our respect in games, mainly because of how much they're capable of. You don't need James Franco to teach them that.

Without further ado, bring on the damn dirty apes! (Well, OK, some showered.)

Donkey Kong

Leadership capability: moderate to high

Donkey Kong has been creating video game havoc for over 30 years, which means he's got seniority nailed down right alongside his superiority. He started out strong, capturing a poor girl and climbing a tower like the big bully he is. Since then, however, he's been fighting more on the side of good, keeping his beloved islands safe from intruders while protecting what's left of his precious banana hoard. He's proven to be a dependable character throughout the years, even though he isn't the smartest. Thus, he deserves a place in the ape ranks. And if you don't like it, well, he's sure to throw a barrel at you.

Honorable mention: Cranky Kong

Cranky Kong would be a definitive leader if he wasn't so busy complaining all the time. Yes, Cranky Kong, we remember how great the "old days" of gaming used to be. Most of us were there. Now shut up and help look for bananas.


Leadership capability: high (but evil)

We're not sure why Andross the ape would feel the need to take over the universe. But, hey, if Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Koba can be irritated with everyone, then so can a monkey who specializes in using virtual technology to turn into a giant head and set of hands, which he uses at the end of pretty much every Starfox game to try and crush Fox McCloud. Andross' technical know-how and confidence would make him an ideal leader for the apes. However, his unspeakable evil makes him rather untrustworthy, and questionable when it comes to deciding what's best for his clan. Plus, building that giant head and pair of hands takes a whole lot of time and resources, and last time we checked, apes aren't exactly overflowing with cash.


Leadership capability: moderate, until he changes back into a human

The arcade classic Rampage introduced us to three unlikely monsters that could trash a city in a matter of seconds. Amongst the angry creatures is George, a gorilla who means serious business when it comes to eating pesky humans (like soldiers and poor saps hanging outside of windows) and destroying structures in a matter of seconds. He would make an ideal leader, except for the fact that he's susceptible to damage. An electric shock, a tank blast, gunfire and even an explosion would leave him down for the count way too long, and once he runs out completely, he transforms back into a completely vulnerable and naked human being. Still, because of his massive size and strength, George earns a recommendation into the apes club... temporarily.


Leadership capability: strong in decisions, poor in effort

When it comes to smart leaders in the ape community, no one can beat Specter. This super-simian from the Ape Escape series earned a great deal of smarts by stealing a helmet made by the Professor, which he uses to commence other stupid apes to do his bidding. As a leader, he's well-guided, and knows a thing or two when it comes to guiding his apes to freedom. However, he does very little himself, and he shows very little regard for putting his fellow apes into peril. That makes him a less-than-fitting leader for the apes, although he'd make a great tactician.


Leadership capability: strong, but, ahem, too hot-headed

Infernape, the evolution of the Pokemon character Chimchar, can definitely hold his own in battle, as his flaming body enables him to do massive damage to his enemies. However, he has very little to say in the long run, and his fiery nature may make him less than appreciated with the community, as he can easily spark a fire to a village and leave some poor chimps without a home to call their own. As an isolated assassin, however, he deserves a call, and that's why he earns a spot in the ape club.


Leadership capability: little to none, although transformations help

When it comes to monkeys that are too damn cut for their own good, Wiki is at the top of the heap. While this character from Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbados' Treasure serves his purpose of transforming animals into helpful items over the course of the side-scrolling puzzle game, he does very little else but look incredibly (and in some ways, sickeningly) adorable. Plus, he requires commands to get anything done, and considering what he did with the Barbados legacy to begin with, he's not all that trustworthy. He might be good to call upon if you need an ape jester, but otherwise, he's just not that useful.


Leadership capability: little, but at least he's good for demolition

AiAi from the Super Monkey Ball series is way too young and inexperienced to sit in the high throne of all apes, and plus he couldn't do it anyway because, well, he's trapped in a ball. That said, if the apes wanted to plan some sort of assault on the humans, he'd be the first one to call, as he can head speeding towards an entrance and bust right through it with little to no problem, judging by the strength of his ball. Of course, you'd probably have to line a series of bananas to the door just to get him to do it, but it's a small price to pay for strength in mobility.


Leadership capability: none, but call him for the victory party

Finally, there's Amigo, the dancing, maraca-shaking party machine from the Samba de Amigo games. Sadly, he has very little offensive strength to his credit, even though he can fire off weapons with ease in Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. However, when the battle's over, he's the first simian you'll want to call, mainly because he's such a party machine. He can bring his dancing friends with him and crank a soundtrack that ranges from Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" to a remix of Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping." For some monkey looking to kick back, that's more than enough.

Robert Workman was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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