Review by Retroreviewer Productions
"Hey party animals! There are better games than this one."
And before I even found out about this game, I love a couple of Sega-brand games. What Sega separates itself from the other companies is its lively atmosphere they apply to the games they publish, no matter how bad a game really is. And it's clear that Sega is best known for its mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. That critter helped Sega gain momentum on the video game industry, but never got in first place in console sales. Ever. When it was their decision to drop out of the console market in 2001, they try to stay above water with a new series called Super Monkey Ball!
Like I said before, Sega puts a very lively atmosphere in a lot of the games they make or publish themselves. And this game is no exception. The concept about this game reminds me (kinda) of rolling a marble through a maze. It's this version I'm so troubled about. It's not like I hate this game (or series) so much. It's how hard this game is, regarding the ESRB ratings.
The game's front box art looks really inspiring and gives us a good look at the four main characters of the game. Does that tell me that the graphics are nice? Not really. The minigame areas look awful (especially the Monkey Races minigame). But the boards themselves look okay. While you play the boards, you can easily get distracted by the background because Sega makes some of the best backgrounds at the time it was first released, especially the buildings-at-night background in some of them. I thought that the best background in the entire game. Overall, the graphics look okay.
As stated before, Sega almost always puts a lively atmosphere in the games they produce. I think they overdosed it. I could tell because I had to keep the volume down (way down) in order to keep my mom from freaking out a lot. That, in my opinion, is really bad. Whenever I try to listen to it, the sound and music are really terrible. I couldn't stand one tune or blink without me screaming real loud. And that's why I muted my TV when I play this game.
Another good reason to mute your television sets is the voice acting in this game. It's so terrible. They really sound outdubbed and a pain-wrecker to my ears. If you can try to stand this game's sound effects and music, then Baby has the best voice acting in the entire game! And even that is average, even for 2001 standards. Overall, I hated the voice-acting in this game.
The controls for this game are extremely loose. Understanding the controls seem alright, but it's the execution I really hated about the game. Whenever I want to stop or slow down, it would take a while to even read it. And I only had one or two occasions when it would read every single control properly. What a bummer. And at times, I'd swore that the player sometimes moves on his own. And that accounts for half of all of my deaths in this game alone.
I also blamed the camera for a lot of my deaths. You can't move it without moving yourself and when you're trying to execute a daring move, almost all the time the camera would be in a very bad place to execute my movements in order to complete a board. It really made the game almost unplayable.
Like I said before, the whole concept of this game comes from rolling a marble through a maze. And your goal is to complete each maze successfully and confidently. And yes, there are obstacles in this game. Mostly, they were cheap. But the biggest obstacle (and least cheap) is the loose controls. These controls are going to be a huge pain in the later stages, I think.
But my problems doesn't end there. The boards you play in are badly-designed. They are made solely for one cheap challenge after another. But what's worse about them is that there are some tracks that were copied and modified just to suit a particular difficulty level. And there's some in this game that were copied AND unmodified at all. That shows how lazy the developers are in this game.
There are four characters to choose from. People on the Internet say that there's a difference between those characters, every one of them. However, because of the loose controls, I never found a single difference but this: how they handle the loose controls.
Tsk, tsk. Minigames. I found three problems with them before even playing a single one. First of all, you have to unlock that particular game in order to play it. And two, as locked, they never tell you what you do in the game until you buy it. And three, there are no refunds. Seriously, nearly every one of these minigames is a total nightmare, except for one. And that's Targets. Not only the whole concept of this game is great, the controls are awesome and the bad stuff can help or hinder how you play this game. Seriously, Targets is the only minigame worth playing.
The multiplayer isn't that much fun either, because it's not rewarding, the difficulty is higher and it gets tedious fast. Seriously, you're only going to play multiplayer once.
Everything in this game should take you about 10 hours to complete, if you ignore the difficulty level. Unless you don't care about the difficulty level or if you love making your players die in agony, there's no way you'll ever want to play this game again.
Super Monkey Ball is an interesting idea from Sega that might be much better if they had better music, took it easy on the atmosphere, fixed the controls and improved the gameplay a notch. And its very high difficulty level completely defeats the whole purpose of the ESRB rating board for this game. If you want a really good Super Monkey Ball game, you might want to get Super Monkey Ball 2, because it has better controls and gameplay. And for this reason alone, you should rent Super Monkey Ball for the GameCube. But if you don't have a choice, or if you can tolerate the difficulty level better than I can, buy it now.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 03/09/10, Updated 05/24/10
Game Release: Super Monkey Ball (US, 11/17/01)
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