Review by NeoGamer

Reviewed: 11/24/01 | Updated: 11/24/01

Sega + Monkeys + Balls = Entertainment!

I never imagined that I would see a Sega game on a Nintendo console. After all, the two companies were once fierce rivals of each other. Those were certainly the good days, but the times have changed. Sega's new philosophy of gaming, to be the number one third party developer in the gaming industry, has allowed for multi-platform development. Super Monkey Ball, Sega's first game for the Nintendo GameCube, is a unique game that challenges the mind, reflexes, and offers some multiplayer madness and visual candy.

Graphically, Super Monkey Ball is nothing less than joyful. While the graphics do not scratch the surface of what the GameCube is capable of, they do thrill and delight. To start off, the levels are brilliantly designed and maintain solid coherence throughout. Each level is sharp looking and the textures contained within are notably smooth. The character design, in this case monkey design, is attractive. Each of the four main characters are funny, charming, and have a wide variety of animations. The special effects, while sparse, are visually pleasing. For example, the water textures are gorgeous, as are the confetti explosions awarded for victory. The overall graphical spectrum of Super Monkey Ball draws the player into an effervescent world, which is hard to leave. Certain sections of Super Monkey Ball are reminiscent of Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast, only with slightly clearer images. This is actually quite entertaining, especially for a Sega fan. Again, the primary drawback of the graphical representation in Super Monkey Ball is that the GameCube is capable of more than what has been presented. This is evident in other launch games such as Luigi's Mansion and Star Wars Rouge Squadron II: Rouge Leader. Nevertheless, Super Monkey Ball is still graphically pleasing, especially for a launch title.

Super Monkey Ball's primary shortcoming lies within the sound department. The problem is not so much that the sounds are bad, but rather that there is little variety. The actual soundtrack brings a melodious peace, which can almost put one to sleep. This peaceful mood fits the quite well with the theme set by the visuals. There are hardly any actual sound effects to mention. The primary sound effects that stand out above the others are the strange squeals the monkeys make. These squeals identify the monkey's mood, which is usually determined by their status in the game itself. At any rate, the sounds are very minimal and at no point do they inspire one to turn up the volume. In fact, playing the game with the sound completely off is not out of the question.

Even though the controls of Super Monkey Ball are not really complex, they are precise and offer an excellent taste of how good the GameCube's controller actually is. The primary game mode involves the player tilting the surface of a board, allowing for a ball to roll around to its destination. This is simply done with the Control Stick. The multitude of mini-games features their own unique controls, all of which are precise and easy to learn. Super Monkey Ball takes some use of the internal rumble featured in the GameCube's controller, but not very much. The only downside to the control scheme lies within the primary game mode. Getting acquainted with the physics engine can be tough considering most players are used to controlling the object itself, and not the environment in which the object resides. Overall, however, the controls are expertly executed and help the overall experience.

The interface in Super Monkey Ball is simple to use, and there are plenty of options to tweak in order to help the player's experience. The difficulty levels are accurately labeled, and the Expert mode will baffle most players with its insane difficulty. The game has a nice 'pickup and play' feel to it, so the player never feels tied down. The physics engine seems to be extraordinarily accurate, which is helpful when precision determines whether or not the player finishes a level. The overall gameplay elements breathe additional life into this instant classic.

With several unique modes, Super Monkey Ball ensures a promising experience for several hours. While the primary mode has around 90 levels to conquer, it may feel a bit short once proper techniques have been mastered. Fortunately there are numerous modes of play in which to spend time on. Additionally, three very entertaining mini-games may be unlocked by going through the primary mode: Monkey billiards, Monkey bowling, and Monkey Golf are three games that will entertain one player for several additional hours. Plus, this only scratches the surface of the fun. Add at least one extra controller and there is a party waiting to happen. Every mode in single player may be played in multiplayer. This only adds to the complexity of the replay value, which is staggeringly high. Super Monkey Ball definitely fulfills the tag price.

In conclusion, Sega did an excellent job of creating a solid title with strong multiplayer components, and addictive single player additions. Super Monkey Ball is an excellent party game filled with enough gameplay to excite just about every gamer.

Graphics: 8/10
Sounds: 6/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Replay: 10/10

Overall Score: 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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