Review by Writer
"Really, who doesn't like monkeys?"
Sporting cute little monkeys and brightly colored visuals, Super Monkey Ball may instantly be put back on the shelf when viewed by the untrained eye. Those that are actually willing to give the game a chance will see that there is an enormous amount of gameplay hidden beneath the game's deceptively cute outer shell.
The concept behind Super Monkey Ball is absurdly simple. Controlling a monkey inside a transparent ball, you tilt the floor to guide your chimp to the goal while collecting bananas along the way before time expires. Each floor serves as a level so you can blow through each one fairly fast. The controls are so simple that even those that have never touched a video game will be able to pick up and play instantly. You use the left analog stick to move the floor. That's pretty much it. Really. Oh and you use the A button to adjust the floor map. The game offers three difficulties, beginner (10 stages), advance (30 stages), and expert (50 stages). While the game is a cake walk on beginner, the advance and expert settings will seriously test your skills as well as your patience level. Make no mistake, despite Super Monkey Ball's cute and cuddly nature, the game holds no reservation for frustrating it's players. Some floors become nearly impossible and when you come so close to finishing a floor and fall off towards the end, it get's annoying. Luckily Super Monkey Ball still remains a very fun game despite the accelerated difficulty. And that's just the main game. While this challenging mode would have been fine by itself, Amusement Vision added some wonderful side games to shoot the replay value of this game through the roof.
Super Monkey Ball is packed with a plethora of mini games and party games that can be enjoyed alone or with friends. These aren't just mere afterthoughts that you play for a while and then never play again. Serious effort went into these mini games and it shows. Monkey Race is better than all those lame kart racers, complete with 6 tracks, a time attack mode and items to use to take out your rivals. Then there's Monkey Fight, a game where you duke it with a single boxing glove to punch other monkeys out of the ring. Monkey Target is like Pilot Wings 64 lite. Launch a monkey off a ramp and try to land on a certain position of a landing pad for the desired points all taking wind direction, altitude and speed into account. Monkey Billiards is so well crafted Sega could have made it as a separate pool game all together. The physics in this mode are so dead on that it shames most stand alone pool games. Monkey Bowling and Golf are about as complex as their real life counterparts so expect to have fun and get aggravated at the same time. All of Super Monkey Balls mini games and party games give the game a ''party game'' title and rightfully so. This is one game where you'll want to have three extra controllers ASAP if you have friends that come over often.
Take one look at Super Monkey Balls visuals and it's clear that the game could have been done on the Dreamcast or the PS2. However, the bright graphics work very well and are still impressive. The audio benefits from a quirky, upbeat selection of tunes while the monkeys cry out when they fall from a floor or make happy chants when you perform well. In a nutshell, the audio/visual package isn't brilliant but is nothing to scoff at either.
With it's long single player mode, mucho fun mini games/party games, Super Monkey Ball is a fabulous title and may very well be the best party game ever. It may not push the GameCube to the limits technically, but it pushes the envelope in the fun factor department, and that's what counts. If you've got a GameCube, you need Super Monkey Ball.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 11/23/01, Updated 11/23/01
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