Review by Galactus21

"Monkeys in a ball? Sweet!"

Where is the appeal of a monkey rolling around with a giant ball? Don't worry; it's not as bad as you think. One thing that Monkey Ball excels at is its fast paced mini-games that provide a stellar experience for multiple users. While the single player still retains much of the same frantic action, it doesn't quite feel the same as challenging your friends. Even with that said Monkey Ball's vast library of mini-games will quickly become the preferred party game. The premise of SMB is simple. You control a monkey in a ball that is capable of numerous feats.

One of which is going through a track filled with obstacles to try and meet the goal. Another could be propelling poor monkey across the ocean, with their ball opening up to guide them into a point oriented landing zone. Simply put, Monkey Ball is filled with different games that will take the player a while to plow through. Its multiplayer is simply one of the best around. Having a buddy around, while you two try to sock each other in some monkey boxing never gets tireless.

Another particular mode is a race. This mode is similar to that of Mario Kart, except instead of Karts, you have a monkey in a ball. You can still pick up boosts and weapons to help your cause. Like Mario Kart, these types of races are a blast when you playing with a friend. Hitting an unexpected opponent with a bomb and seeing their reaction is simply priceless.

One thing that it falls short on is its single player mode. It simply does not capture the same magical feeling as its multiplayer mode. There are different types of levels. For instance, you can choose between a set, predetermined amount of levels, with each becoming increasingly more difficult. As each level's difficulty increases, one's skills are put to the test. The level designs definitely felt good, as each level had its own unique twist.

Disappointing as the single player is, its multiplayer alone makes SMB a necessity for parties. Similar to the single player mode, a player has the opportunity to plow through a set number of levels, where the monkey must cross the finish line. At first it seems all fine and dandy, but as you progress, it becomes increasingly more difficulty. One level required you to maneuver your poor monkey through an enclosing death trap of spikes.

While playing through the single player, the first handful of levels plays out with simplicity. But as you move on, the levels get harder and eventually lead to frustration. It requires quick reflexes, spot on timing, and careful maneuvering of the monkey ball. Even when the levels were hard on multiplayer, playing with friends makes the difficulty much more fun. In single player, this does not occur.

Perhaps one of my favorite mini-games is the boxing match between monkeys. You will be put on a stage, where your goal is to know the opponent off the stage as many times as possible. During this short span, you can get upgrades. As you position yourself on the stage, you have to worry about your opponent. As the upgrades start dropping, the game becomes total insanity.

The most played multiplayer game between me and my friends is the Mario Kart type racing between the monkeys. As you race through the tracks, you will find much to love. Like Mario Kart, it is able to capture those that aren't necessary fans of racing games. Tossing bombs and getting speed boost through this fictional and unbelievable track is more than enough to provide a unique and quirky experience.

SMB is the perfect solution for friends who are bored and looking for something to play. It's easy to pick up and get in on the action. Another aspect that feels good is the responsive controls that allow for easy maneuvering. Even with that said, all the sharp turns and other obstacles does make things hard to control at times, despite the responsive controls.

Monkey Ball's frantic and energetic theme music brings an upbeat and lively mood towards the game. Like most party type games, the music is cheery. It's got a soft beat, which allow users to enjoy the music at a slow pace. What's especially important about the music are the variety and the timing. The soundtrack is filled with plenty of mood enlightening beats. Not to mention, all the music seems to play at just about the right time.

From a graphics standpoint, Monkey Ball holds its own. While it certainly isn't on the level of some other Gamecube games, the art direction and animation makes up for it a bit. The level designs felt solid also. The animation felt spot on, as the sharp turns and flashy moves bring a bit of glare to the screen. The character models weren't all that strong, but it's forgivable considering it's a party game. Even though the graphics isn't Monkey Ball's strongpoint, it isn't really necessary, considering SMB's strong multiplayer content.

Containing countless hours of Monkey racing, knock and sock em, and a variety of other mini-games, this is the type of game that will last for years. What is especially important to remember is Monkey Ball's mass appeal to a group rather than individuals. It may not have a strong single player, but it makes up for it with plenty of laughs and thrills in multi-play.

To sum it all up; Monkey Ball is definitely worth picking up for the multiplayer alone. Had it had a stronger single player mode, it could have been a more well rounded game, with more longevity and value. But as it stands, you will still be busting this game out every time you have friends over. There is a variety of mini-games, which is well worth your buck. Even with some of its shortcomings, it's hard to ignore such a fun and cheery game. It may not have the highest production value around, but it has plenty of fun. And in the end that should be the deciding factor.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/08/06

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