Whack or Spank the Monkey? We Can't Quite Decide
Since I’m in such a direct and semi-serious mood, I’m going to attempt to dodge the obvious blue humour and juvenile jokery that is all but unavoidable when seeing a game called ‘Whack the Monkey’. As if it didn’t already take every imperial pound of strength in my body and soul to stop myself chuckling in the most juvenile of ways at the initial title, the game itself label also hits me with the sub-title of ‘Spank the Monkey’. This was a little too much for me to take, and I allowed myself a guilty chortle out loud; I’m not proud of it, but when I see a title like that without a hint of irony or awareness, it usually lands a direct hit, right on the funny bone.
‘Whack the Monkey’ is another one of your run-of-the-mill flash games where what you see/read is exactly what you get. I’m always delighted with games that are as self-evident as this, with no requirement for written instruction and no worrying about needing to lift more than a finger or a brain cell to play. Playing of the game is as easy as clicking the cursor and dragging the purposely-pixelated hand with as much heft and haste as possible whilst in real life being careful not to break any objects within range of your mouse arm. When playing the game, the use of a mouse pad essentially becomes a limiting factor equal to attempting to throw a javelin in a broom cupboard, though somewhat less dangerous and idiotic.
The primate which you are responsible for taking out your aggression upon appears to be a medium-quality photo of an actual inflatable monkey. As irrelevant as this detail may be, I attempt to be as comprehensive as possible when describing a game, often verging on the unnecessarily so, and all for the benefit of the prospective player. The sole aim of the game is to attempt to send the inflatable ape packing off the left side of the screen and into your active imagination at the highest speed you can manage. It really is that simple, yet somehow significantly more entertaining than many other games of the flash variety which I have previously encountered.
If you manage to apply enough force to the monkey, the laws of (predetermined and computer-programmed) physics state that that acceleration will take place, while the laws of fun govern that recording of the final speed of the monkey in miles per hour may entertain the player a little. Over 200mph gives you a delightful congratulations and a celebratory song. And I think I speak for everyone (and by everyone, I hopefully mean no-one) when I say that after a few minutes of slapping about a primate, I’m always very much in the mood for a gentle bit of Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’. There’s nothing like the subtle blend of hip-hop and funk to top off a new miles-per-hour record for our little hairy friend.
If you are expecting even a little more than simply a monkey and a hand to smack it with, then you will be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, if you have somehow made the inference that the game is anything more than this, you should be a little disappointed in yourself. To include any more features in a game such as this would be to fly in the face of such humble, stripped-down, bare-bones, flash-powered tomfoolery, the purpose of which is to mildly entertain and gently challenge, with a possible bit of amusement thrown in for good measure. ‘Whack the Monkey’ is lighter in actual content than most glossy magazines, but this is its main strength; it makes the game accessible, easily playable and fun to do so. And don’t tell me you didn’t at least smirk at the name.
Reviewed by Craig Sherratt