5 games/series to celebrate the year of the Monkey this Chinese New Year

Chinese New Years looms, and with it comes the year of the Monkey! These games are the most banana-packed funfests you can play to celebrate this year.

Did you know 2016 is the Year of the Monkey on the lunar calendar? If you're not lucky enough to find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a Chinese New Year party, you probably won't have much reason to care that Chinese New Year is coming up on February 8th. 

You may not be celebrating directly, but some games can get you in one the monkey action this year. Monkeys and apes have been prevalent as main characters and enemies in video games since Donkey Kong's rise in arcades in the early 1980s. If you want to give the Year of the Monkey the attention it deserves, this is the right way to do it. Sort of.

So what game is the first one to grace our list? With so many options out there, it could be anything -- but it's not. It's..

The Monkey Island series

Perhaps one of the first series any long-time gamer thinks of when someone says "monkey" is the classic LucasArts adventure series, Monkey Island. I mean, what else could it be? Adventure games that are more limited on their monkey usage, obviously.

Guybrush Threepwood's first attempt at piratedom and clash against the nefarious LeChuck arrived on limited gaming platforms and PCs in 1990 and spawned four sequels, the last of which saw its release in 2009 after being developed by (the now well-known) Telltale Games.

The Monkey Island games aren't known by fans of the genre to be the toughest point-and-click adventure games out there, but they do still pack a hefty mental challenge for all skill levels, and the humor and charm of the series is still renowned today.

The original The Secret of Monkey Island is still a great starting point, and the 2009 re-release with optional updated visuals and music is available for iOS, PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 for cheap. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge got the same treatment. The third game, The Curse of Monkey Island, wasn't so lucky.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

A game many Wii U owners regard as one of the best games on the console has so easily found its way onto this list that it's a bit sickening. Apes as protagonists and tight, difficult gameplay in this day and age? Come on, man. That's not what modern gaming is about. 

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze isn't what you'd expect from a big game released today, but it is a faithful and gorgeous throwback to Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, and a more than worthy sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii.

The game more than fits the Year of the Monkey bill, but it's tough as nails. Gamers with low-to-no patience need not apply to Donkey Kong's most recent platforming adventure. Those who can withstand the challenge have what is definitely one of the best Nintendo platformers released in years ahead of them.

Bloons TD5

I defy you to find a series more monkey-packed than the Bloons TD games. This well-known tower defense title has been knocking around on browsers since 2007, and it first found its way to mobile devices with Bloons TD4 in 2010.

Bloons TD5 is the most fleshed-out addition to the series. While Bloons TD Battles and Bloons Cities are booming on browsers and mobile, TD5 is the the biggest in terms of sheer content, and is generally a more varied experience than Battles and Cities.

You've got monkeys in airplanes, monkeys with corrosive glue guns, ninja monkeys, monkey banana farms -- there are just a ton of monkeys in TD5, and each one has a use for one playstyle or another. There's a reason this is regarded as one of the best tower defense games out there, and it's not just because of the monkeys. 

Like it or not, Temple Run and its sequel are some of the most popular games ever made, thanks to their dominance on mobile devices. There's something to be said about the simple fun endless runners provide, that much is for sure.

If you've never played Temple Run, you wouldn't know that the "big bads" in the games are evil demon monkeys hungry for the flesh of the player. These carnivorous antagonists (who definitely look more like apes than monkeys) are a constant threat in the Temple Run games, and are always on the heels of an unlucky player.

These are certainly the most intimidating monkeys on this list, and I would definitely not want to run into one in a back alley. You get a look at these guys enough while playing the game that it's impossible not to include the Temple Run series in our Year of the Monkey game list.

Ape Escape trilogy

What!? You forgot about SCE Japan Studio's monkey-catching action-adventure games? Oh, the humanity! You need to remember the Ape Escape series, stat. Otherwise I'm just going to feel disappointed.

The first Ape Escape was the first game to require the use of analog sticks on the PlayStation, and it set the stage for some unique gameplay and controls that not many other games have decided to imitate. And man, there are a ton of monkeys to capture.

The original trilogy is the best of what Ape Escape has to offer in English, with the sequels improving upon the original formula. Further entries to the series are either Japan-only or spin-offs which don't really live up to the monkey-catching hype. And it is pretty hype.

The entire Ape Escape trilogy encompassing the first three games can be found on the PlayStation Network today, but if you're a physical copy junkie you can pick up the first entry on the PlayStation or PSP, and Ape Escape 2 and 3 on the PlayStation 2. There really is no better game series to celebrate the Year of the Monkey with. 

What are you favorite monkey related games? Let us know down in the comments!

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Published Feb. 4th 2016

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