Review by Slartibartfast
"A Sega Classic"
Ahhhh....I love Monkeys. I really do. Something about SEGA and monkeys just seem to equal class. What with my favourite (drunken) party game Samba de Amigo...and now this.
Slick. Nothing is going to blow you away graphically with this game, but the look of the game PERFECTLY matches the feel and that is important. However it does look VERY good...and the more you play it the more impressed you will be. Lots of nice reflective surfaces open themselves up later in the game, cool water effects, polished animation and a split screen mode that keeps the framerate buzzing along. Quality use of textures..simple but very effective. My favourite graphical trick is in the replay mode where if you use the digital pad you can see the action from a camera that struggles to keep up and has an amazing motion blur effect. The game moves at a lightning pace when it needs to but everything always stays crystal clear. The only effects missing from split screen seem to be reflections and surface effects. Everything else remains the same. So overall, nothing mind blowing, but still a very attractive game with a very polished and stylised look to it. And I can't stress enough how the graphics fit the game perfectly...adding anything more would have been to clutter the game, therefore being of detriment to the gameplay.
Top notch..as you would expect from Sega. Quite thumping techno like soundtrack to keep the adrenaline pumping. Top quality sound effects all round...even in the mini-games everything sounds right (the pins going down in MonkeyBowl for instance). Favourite sound effect is that of your monkey when they teeter on the edge. It is basically panic inducing therefore more likely to send you to your doom. I love sound effects that can shape the gameplay like that.
When you buy this game (and you must)...at first I'm sure, like me...you will think..yes it seems like fun. But soon after you will be playing Rogue Leader or WR:BS or LM. Then you'll go back to it....again...and again and again. And then you'll have a few friends over. And they will begin to love it. It grows on you...quite slowly at first, but once you start getting some multiplayer mayhem there is no looking back. Such a simple concept...in the normal mode all you use is the analogue stick. Levels that seem difficult at first you will be going back to and racing through them like a demon. ALL of the multiplayer modes are fun, and no doubt individuals will have their favourites as it is a matter of taste. I LOVE Monkeyfight..it's a game anyone can pick up and play. As is MonkeyBowling. For those after a change of pace you have the sublime MonkeyBilliards (which has nothing to do with Billiards as it is a game of 9 ball) and MonkeyGolf (my least favourite). And then there is the mayhem of MonkeyRace. All of these games are very polished in their own right...they might be simple but that doesn't mean they are nott a huge amount of fun. As is Competition mode where via split screen you try and race your selected levels from the normal mode. You can't knock each other around in this mode (that would make it impossible) but you can see the opposition, and simple levels can see you hurtling to your demise off the edge, as you panic when someone is right behind you or you try and race round a corner way too fast.
In my mind it is a design classic. Perfectly formed, with the simplistic nature deceiving you..it is a difficult game to master. My only complaint on this front is that once you reach the Expert levels in the normal game, things become VERY hard. And the frustration level is high... so this part of the game is best played in short bursts of an hour or two to stop you going completely insane with rage. Very addictive though and therefore sometimes difficult to stop. The other problem with the difficulty of later levels is that in my mind they become somewhat redundant for the multiplayer competition mode. It is difficult enough to even complete the level, let alone race someone while doing it. But maybe I'm just no good
So the gameplay is deceptively simple, grows on you every time you play it and has lots of variety for when you have friends over.
Monkey Magic. Definitely the most polished of the three launch games. Menu design is perfect (remembers your last choices etc). Load time is pretty much non-existent (and I mean that). The only thing Amusement Vision haven't thrown in is the kitchen sink so you can't argue in terms of variety.
Looks wise, it's not going to cause anyones jaw to hit the floor, but it's not that kind of game. It sure does look pretty though, has an incredibly polished look about it and some of the reflective levels etc will make you smile.
Sound wise..everything fits the game perfectly and I can have no complaints.
Fun wise...FUN FUN FUN. Can get a little difficult and frustrating, but you certainly won't beat it in a week..that is for sure. In my opinion right up there with SEGAs best.
And for those of you who insist on scores..if I HAD to score the game it would be as follows..
Graphics : 9
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 9
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/27/01, Updated 09/27/01
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