Review by BlueYoshi579

"Super Fun Ball!"

Super Monkey Ball is certainly a very unique experience. Super Monkey Ball is a simply, yet deep, game, adrift in a sea of increasingly complex, yet still very shallow, games. It has no "RPG elements," no "free roaming environment." It doesn't even have a story mode. In today's world of "Massive Multi player On line Role Playing Games" and First Person Shooters, where people endlessly dissect and analyze every little detail of each mod, patch, character build, and playing style, Super Monkey Ball was, and still is, a trend breaker. Super Monkey Ball throws raids, power leveling, camping, and most forms of thought out the window, and replaces it with a monkey in a transparent sphere. It sounds simple - and it is. It's Simply Fun.

Visual Presentation: Super Monkey Ball is not, and never was, a miraculous piece of eye candy. That said, it's still good. Each monkey (Aiai, Meemee, Baby, and Gongon) The game is presented cleanly, and allows the player to focus on what they're trying to do, most of the time. Sometimes the camera can get a bit erratic and confuse the player, especially at high speeds where precision is critical, so Super Monkey Ball's visuals get an 8 out of 10.

Sound: The music and sounds for Super Monkey Ball fit with the silly theme, as well as the on screen events. Collecting bananas, hitting other players, and the like all have appropriate sounds; the music matches the pace of the game. 9 out of 10.

Controls: Once again, simplicity is the word. For most parts of the game, the player simply controls the monkey sphere's movement with the control stick. Menus require the use of the A and B Buttons, and some games require others. The controls are responsive and precise (although the same isn't always true about the player). I don't think it's possible to be confused / disoriented by the controls for Super Monkey Ball. 10 out of 10.

Game Play: Ah, yes, the true gem of Super Monkey Ball: The game play. The game play of Super Monkey Ball cane be divided into seven sections: The Main Play mode, the three "party" games, and the three "mini" games. I'll cover each of the these seven sections individually.

Main Game: The Main Game can be played on three difficult settings. The basic premise is to go around a stage, trying to reach the exit to advance to the next level. You can grab bananas for extra points and lives, but not getting any will not necessarily hinder you. The only way to lose "lives" is to fall off the stage or miss the time limit.

Beginner consists of ten simple stages offer little risk or reward. Advanced is 30 stages of challenging, but doable, action, although there are a few nasty surprises. Expert has 50 very difficult stages, and earns its "Expert" title.

While good for practice, the Beginner stages aren't quite as challenging or entertaining as the Advanced or Expert stages. While the final Beginner stages require caution, they do not require too much skill, given the loose time restrictions. That said, Beginner still gives out Play points (used for unlocking mini games) and makes a good every banana time trial challenge.

I usually play on the Advanced level. With practice, Advanced has just the right balance of difficulty and action. There are plenty of dangers on Advanced, including the time limit. Several stages are rather dynamic, and offer fresh experiences each time.

Expert is... difficult, to say the least. Only with extensive practice (and luck, of course) was I able to complete it. Normally, the solution to a Super Monkey Ball stage is simple to discover, but difficult to execute. Expert mode breaks from this at times and challenges your mind as well as your motor skills. Expert is rewarding, but challenging.

Monkey Fight: This Party game has one objective: Knock your opponents off the arena. Then do it again, until you have the most points after one minute. There are three ways to score: Five points are awarded to all other players when the "king" (the player(s) with the most points at the time) falls off the arena without being hit. Ten points are awarded to the player(s) who knock off a normal player, and 20 points are awarded to player(s) who knock off a "king" player. Knock offs are usually performed by pressing A to fire a punch from the glove stuck to the front of your Monkey Sphere.

There are three arenas: A grassy plain with barriers on two sides the prevent most knock offs in their directions; An icy, slippery, rink with panels of ice scattered around, that block movement / knock offs; and a circular arena with no obstructions.

Monkey Fight also features three power ups (which can be turned on or off prior to the match), which come in the form of two boxes that must be punched open before the power up can be retrieved (opening the box doesn't mean you get the prize, either). The "Big" power up gives your boxing glove a size and power upgrade. The "Long" power up gives your glove better reach. The "Vortex" power up lets you hold A to send your glove flying around your sphere at high speeds, which is very dangerous to anyone foolish enough to get near you. The power ups can be combined and upgraded. "Big" and "Long" increase the magnitude of the boost, while "Vortex" increases duration.

Overall, it's very good, sort of an ordered chaos. Everyone is danger, including you. Of course, the more people you have, the better it is.

Monkey Race: Monkey Race plays like a simplified version of Mario Kart, but with Monkey Spheres and controls... which don't mix too well. It's hard to keep top speed, even at the simplest course. The turns are sharp, but speed in necessary. Overall, more challenge than fun, and adding friend(s) doesn't help the fun much, either; unless you're a complete sadist. Overall, not a bad mode of play, but it's still the worst of the seven.

Monkey Target: Ah, now this is fun! The idea behind Monkey Target is to get some speed and air from a large ramp, and land on the highest point target you can. Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn't. You have to contend with wind, plenty of momentum, and moving targets. It's very easy to miss and hit the water instead, especially given that the targets are tiny in comparison to the vast sea.

The targets themselves have areas ranging from 10 to 300 points, along with tiny 500 point pedestals. The target platforms are easy to spot, but some have surprises, such as terraced structures, pits (Which can take you from 50-200 points down to 10-20), holes, or moving parts. All in all, a more difficult task than it seems.

You can also add a few other factors, such as power ups, which are obtained by grabbing bananas on your way to targets. There are five levels or power ups: The first cancels out the wind (useful when you have a stiff wind with a bad direction), the second makes your Monkey Sphere stop very quickly after landing (Good for getting those higher scores like 100-300), the third doubles your score (You still have to get something, though), the fourth makes your Monkey Sphere stop instantly (Basically the only way to get a 500 point shot, as the pedestals are only about 3 or 4 times larger than the sphere itself, and any momentum or miss aim sends you right off them), and the third triples your score (I find the fourth power up more useful, myself). You can also add the "Wheel of Danger," which spins before each target attempt. It may add simple fog, aerial spike balls, or ground bombs. The Fog is obvious, the spike balls make it more difficult to come in for a landing on a target, and the bombs interfere with your landing plans.

Monkey Target is good fun, no matter how many players you have.

Monkey Billiards: Ah, nothing like a good game of Nine Ball without your unsteady hand to ruin it! Monkey Billiards plays like a standard game of Nine Ball Billiards: You hit the cue with hopes of pocketing the Nine Ball, but you must hit the lowest numbered ball on the table first (Of course, if you hit the lowest numbered ball into the nine ball and pocket it, you win). The only twist is that you don't use a pool cue: You use the monkey inside the sphere. It doesn't change much. You choose your angle with the control stick, your shot force (Normal or Hard) with Y, and the level of force with A (By stopping a standard thermometer like filling/emptying bar).

While the game itself is sound, the AI is not. Each character has their own unique method: Aiai plays like most people, trying to pocket each ball in order (Of course, he knows an early win opportunity when he sees it). Baby tries to grab the win whenever he can by pocketing the Nine Ball early, which can lead to some poorly thought out shots. Gongon always puts a lot of force, which hurts his accuracy with good reason at times. However, Meemee has the odd tendency of always banking her shots off of walls before hitting the target ball. This doesn't help her in any way, and just makes her too easy to defeat. While Baby and Gongon can sometimes snatch victory out of nowhere, and Aiai plays clean and mostly mistake free (although sometimes he misses an an easy shot on lower difficulties), Meemee just handicaps herself. Fortunately, you can choose your opponent, so you can stick with Aiai all the time if you please.

Again, adding a human competitor makes this game more fun, but the AI (Well, Aiai) is skilled enough to challenge you, as well.

Monkey Bowling:This has two modes: Standard and Challenge. Standard mode is an accurate simulation of real life bowling, although it clears dead pins after every shot (Some forms leave them to add strategy to second shots). Challenge mode tasks you with knocking down every pin in certain combinations, such as the 7-10 split. A fun diversion, but Standard mode is more fun, as you can run into these situations anyway.

For each shot, you first pick your position on the width of the bowling lane. Next, you try to stop the left / right moving aimer where you want it, and last you use R or L to put left or right spin on the ball.

Overall, an accurate bowling simulation. Of course, bowling itself isn't always too appealing.

Monkey Golf: This is just mean. Monkey Golf is a twisted version of Miniature Golf. Most of the holes require precise aim and power, and offer plenty of places to screw up. My best score is 72, which would be great for a casual amateur, were it to be a normal course. But Monkey Golf is not normal. It's par 54, with some truly cruel holes. Many holes require you to stop the sphere very quickly after needing so much power to get it over an incline.

The challenge is difficult to describe. The fun comes mostly in finally beating one of the evil holes, and watching your friends struggle (Hey, they game's sadistic too). Or maybe I'm just bad at golf.
Overall, the Super Monkey Ball offers seven different ways to play, which range from decent fun to amazing entertainment. Just remember that it is a party game, so have some friends over to play it if you want to really enjoy it.

Overall Score: 9.65 out of 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/05/06

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