Planet of the Apes for the Game Boy Color was developed by Torus Games/Visiware and was first published by Ubisoft in 2001. It is based on the 1968 film of the same name, which in turn was based on the 1963 book by Pierre Boulle. Actually, to be more accurate, the game follows the plot of the 1970 sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, more closely than it does the first film, where Brent (played by James Franciscus) crash-lands on a post-apocalyptic Earth on a rescue mission to find Taylor (Charlton Heston), and eventually finds himself held prisoner in an underground city run by telepathic humans.
Planet of the Apes is a platform action game in the style of Prince of Persia or Flashback. You control an astronaut, called Ben, trapped in the hostile future having crash-landed in the desert. Ben must run, jump, roll, climb and fight his way through a series of scrolling levels. As he progresses he finds the dogtags of Taylor and goes looking for him through caves and forests that are populated by venomous snakes, aggressive boars, bears, and – of course – belligerent, upright apes.
As he explores, Ben collects flags that are located around the landscape (although it’s never really explained why he’s doing that). Every flag collected lights up one of ten dots on Ben’s status panel and when a level is completed it tallies up how long it took to complete, how many flags have been collected, and how many apes have been killed.
At the bottom of the screen is a health bar and an item selector that you use to cycle through weapons and first aid kits. If Ben’s health reaches zero you have to start a level from scratch again, but you can re-try as many times as you like. There’s also a password system to access levels you’ve reached previously.
Overall, Planet of the Apes on the Game Boy Color is playable and challenging – if unspectacular. It’s worth finding and playing, if you like the films, but it won’t dazzle you with anything new or exciting. It’s just an okay game that doesn’t really take advantage of the films in any meaningful way.
Planet of the Apes was also released the same year for the Game Boy Advance. While it is essentially the same game, it does look different to the GBC version. Visiware also developed and released a completely different Planet of the Apes game for Windows and PlayStation in 2001.