Review by EvilTrash
"Unintuitive controls ruin a potentially awesome game"
The world choices are pretty standard, but are rendered beautifully. This is one of the best looking early Wii games. The colors are bright and vibrant and the textures look to be of a higher resolution than other Wii games, which makes sense because there are admittedly fewer of them than in games such as Red Steel or Zelda.
The sound effects and music are decent and do not get in the way of the game at all. They do not particularly add much to it either. It would have been nice if you could play this game with music off an SD card.
The original formula is still there, but with the addition of tons of mini-games and brand-new boss battles. The bosses are somewhat interesting, but can be a chore to defeat as a result of the controls and camera. It would have been nice if the nunchuck analog stick operated the camera, but that is not the case. The level designs in the single-player mode are all pretty good, with some interesting obstacles introduced in many of the levels, and at least something new in every world. Most of the mini-games are so difficult that you won't play them for very long before ignoring it forever. Some of them are quite fun, but mostly just for multiplayer situations. All in all, I was disappointed with the mini-game selection.
The controls are where this game takes a drive. First of all, there is no way to control the camera, so you'll often be looking in the direction opposite where you want to be looking. Also, the gameplay itself revolves around the camera to the extent that you cannot move without moving the camera to some degree. This becomes very frustrating because you may want to give your monkey ball a very slight tweak in direction, but the oversensitive controls coupled with the cracked out camera means you'll be "over-steering" a lot. This becomes a big chore to deal with during boss fights when you often have a very small area to work with, and the camera rotates around the boss, and it can be difficult to aim yourself at the weak spot because of a horrible mix of over- and under-sensitivity. This causes your compensation to be thrown way out of whack, and you'll end up either turning too far away from the boss, or not close enough.
The other major problem with the controls is that the actual scheme itself is just wrong. I can't put it any other way, but there is no excuse for this setup to be implemented as it is. You're supposed to hold the controller one-handed and twist your wrist for left/right tilting. This is massively uncomfortable and causes quick cramping in the wrist, and does not allow for very precise movements. It can be gotten used to, but it's nearly impossible to master. A much more precise, less tiresome control scheme would have been to replicate the Excite Truck method of holding the remote sideways with both hands. I simply could not get past the flaws in the controls, and found myself going wildly out of control for no reason other than that the controls are imprecise and completely the opposite of the ideal. Whereas horizontal, two-handed control would have been simple, straight-forward, relaxing, and precise, the actual one-handed, vertical control scheme is difficult, cumbersome, tiring, and inaccurate.
The replay factor is high, so long as you can get past the marred control setup. I suffered immense frustration fighting the controls, which is almost the entire reason why this game is difficult at all. The levels are nowhere near as difficult to maneuver as past Monkey Ball games, but an artificial difficulty is implemented purely by having a flawed control scheme that supports wild, out-of-control gameplay. With a better, more comfortable control scheme, the game would have been less frustrating, and more, but would have shown the glaring simplicity of the level designs, ultimately resulting in a too-easy single player mode. If you can get comfortable with the controls, which is much more difficult to do than in any other Wii game I have played, you will have fun trying to beat all the levels without continuing, which will open up two bonus worlds.
The game nets some points for its beautiful graphics and the scope of its minigames. It loses points for simplicity of design, imprecise and uncomfortable control scheme, and the lackluster nature of a majority of the minigames. The programmers seemed to neglect a great many things with this game, including the lack of an alternative control scheme, inability to control the camera, and the fact that the previously entered initials are not remembered when prompted to input them for a new high score. These are all simple things that could have, and should have, been implemented. I would recommend the game with high caution only, and warn you that the game is flawed and achieves none of the greatness that most publications claim. There are far better Wii games out there.
5 / 10
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/06
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