Review by DarkNightwing

"Sega/Amusement Visions rack your balls and your brain"

Well I'm going to start things off a little differently than my cut and dry rating system this time boys and girls, Super Monkey Ball is a unique game and it needs a unique style of review.

When I got my Gamecube (after camping 8 hours at Wal-Mart), I already had 2 games bought; Rogue Leader and Super Monkey Ball. Granted I only got them because they were already being sold, and given a choice I might have opted for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 on launch day, but I subsided and now I see this was the right decision. We've come to discuss Super Monkey Ball.

From the second you open the box you know this is going to be one goofy thrill ride, the game disc is half yellow and half blue with the words Super Monkey Ball inscribed on it. No matter how much fun you have with the game you're going to be making Monkey Ball jokes while you play, it's just so easy to score points off of something that uses Monkey and Ball in the same sentence.
The idea in Super Monkey Ball is take your monkey (who is incased in a ball) and roll him/her to the goal. Granted the game could have done without the monkey theme and been a marble madness-esque thing where you play as opaque balls that roll around aimlessly, but instead the monkeys add a bit of a unique challenge to the game. As you move the control stick the monkey attempts to roll the ball in that direction. If you're on an incline your monkey has to start doing some goofy things to get the ball rolling and when he fails to it's always hilarious to see him helplessly plummet into the abyss. Once you've fooled around for awhile you get to know how the ball works and how steep of an incline you make at what speeds. Just as you think you have it figured out the game throws more monkey doo at you: bumpers that will shoot you off course if you can't slow down fast enough, wavy roads, curving paths, holes, steep inclines on very thin lines, moving goals, well you get the idea. The simplicity of the game may be deceiving but it's not something to be looked on as a downside. The changes in ''terrain'' (the ground is just dual color checkerboard like in Sonic games of old) tell you what kind of level you're in and they play appropiate music that has that Dr. Mario feel to it where you know this isn't going to be easy.
If you ever complete the first 10 Beginner stages, the next 30 Advanced stages, and the 50 Expert stages you'll be glad to know that you've only used about $5 out of the $50 or less you blew on the game. Amusement Vision has included several mini-games that are fresh and innovative. Everything is based around the concept of your monkey and his ball but unlike Mario Party or Olympic style games you don't find a monotony in Monkey Ball.

In Monkey Target for instance you roll your ball off a large ramp, shoot yourself into the air, and then use the only button used in the actual gameplay ('A' told ya it was simple) to open your ball and make yourself a little monkey parachute as you try to maneuver to different point values or targets. Another huge plus is that you can alternate in this one just like in Monkey Bowling and Monkey Billiards and Monkey Golf so you only need 1 controller for 4 player action.

In Monkey Fight your ball gets a boxing glove attached to a spring that upgrades with different items such as ''big'', ''long'', and ''vortex'' to increase the size of your glove, punch range, and spin on the punch. Probably not the premiere multiplayer mode for the game but an excellent slapstick sattire.

Monkey Race is my favorite, you throw 4 monkeys onto a course and run through a Mario Kart style, physics driven speedfest with items being flung in every direction. The goal line even has a twist on it, you could be blazing for 1st place but if you get to cocky you might not notice the line of bumpers blocking the finish.

Well after playing this game for so long with so many people I've realized one thing, one singular thing that made me give it that illustrious 9. Whether you're 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 or even in your 40's this game is FUN. It's not Super Smash Bros. Melee by any means but it is FUN. Good clean, no cursing, no language, no lengthy learning curve, no load times, no control confusion, no more than 2 blocks on your memory card, nothing but SEGA creativity and AMUSEMENT VISION design that just blows away what some other 3rd party companies pawn off in a cheap cash in. Ultimately, this game is original and I'm more than glad I got it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/09/01, Updated 06/07/03

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