Review by Carlos McElfish
"If you own a Gamecube you are legally (and morally) obligated to pick this game up."
Can you say ''simplicity is key''? Sega comes through with this surprisingly simple to learn and nearly impossible to master title (one of their first 3rd party affairs that according to Sega will provide a stepping stone to their video game software domination scheme) and proves once again that you don’t need hallow point bullets or photo realistic graphics to make a game entertaining. Super Monkey Ball is either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it, sure you'll be thoroughly entertained throughout the duration of playing this game, but at what price? Got a girlfriend? A job? Responsibilities of any sort? Well let it go because this game will have you screaming at cute little monkeys like Phil Jackson on crack. Throw in some hugely entertaining mini games, multi-player mode and over 100 levels of fight or flight adrenaline rushes. The goal of the game is rather simple, you got a monkey, you got a ball, the monkey is in the ball, and this is where you come in. You direct the monkey in a ball to the preset destination by controlling not the monkey but the surrounding landscape a'la marble madness. Sounds easy you say? Well kick it up a notch and try the 50 level expert mode and we'll see how easy it is. The great thing about this game is that you never get frustrated at losing due to cheap ass level design or shabby coding, if you lose you can bet it was your own damn fault and since it has such simple gameplay dynamics its easy to see how you could have done better.
Did anyone see those Japanese monkey ball booth babes at the 2001 Tokyo Game Show? Damn those chicks were fine. I got my Monkey Ball rat’ here baby, ahh yah. But I digress, this game truly is a work of art that you can bet will be seen at many a late night parties. Since the game can be controlled so easily you can in essence control everything, so you get a genuine sense of accomplishment when you progress. Not because it takes so long to beat but -- I mean sure, there are games that give you a sense of accomplishment for progressing (the Zelda games come to mind) but not in such a short span of time as SMB. Play the game for a while and then watch your friends as they fumble at the controller, not knowing the precise skills it takes to level up in the later part of the game. Watch I say as one person shouts ''just go to the goal marks!'' incessantly at the other only to have the joystick shoved in their face, forced to realize that this ain't no ''walk from point A to point B'' affair. Heed my words; this game will be the death of many shiny new Gamecube controllers.
Super Monkey Ball isn't just about the straight atmospheric control scheme thing either, as you progress throughout the game you acquire points which you can use towards opening up mini levels, not your run of the mill bonus levels either. The quality and depth of the mini levels in this game is comparable to some lesser quality full out games that have tried to pass themselves off on the market in recent days. Monkey Bowling is one of the three unlockable mini games which has you (as you might have already guesed) bowling...with monkeys. Thing is though, you have control over your monkey in a ball right down to the spin of the bowling bowl.
And then you got the monkey billiards mini game, the pool table physics are top notch and graphically superb. Next is Monkey Golf, which isn't quite as fun as the other mini games but an impressive addition none the less.
You might notice a few similarities in SMB and Sonic the Hedgehog the original series for the genesis. One of which is the bonus rounds which have you collecting Dole(C) bananas (collect 100, get a free guy), these stages use almost the exact same dynamics of the bonus rounds in the original Sonic the Hedgehog series for the Sega genesis.
Super Monkey Ball is just plain fun, and nearly impossible to put down once you get started. And SMB is designed to prolong the longevity of the game the more you play due to the fact that more continues are accumulated depending on the amount points you continually rack up (after you hit 9 continues you are granted an unlimited supply). Don’t be fooled by Super Monkey Ball's seemingly easy goals, and simple (yet fluid) graphics, just play it a while and then judge for yourself. If you own a Gamecube you are legally (and morally) obligated to pick this game up.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/05/02, Updated 02/05/02
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