Review by Andy787

"Mmmm.... balls..... I mean monkeys!...... I mean.... dah!"

Now being such a big Sega fan that I am, I can admit to have played an extensive list of their games. Even with all of that, the Jet Grind Radios, the Segagagas, the Rezes, and even the Seamen, I couldn't have expected Sega's first title for a Nintendo system would be a game by the name of 'Super Monkey Ball' and star a band of... monkeys. Or even more, monkeys... in balls. Not that I was disappointed, no no, I mean if past experiences of monkey staring Sega games (Samba De Amigo anyone?) were any indication, Sega's monkeys in balls would be just the treat to get my Gamecube launch day going! And that they did...

Now the basic concept behind Super Monkey Ball's main game borrows a good deal from an old favorite called Marble Madness. Your goal in SBM is to navigate your monkey-inhabited ball through maze-like stages without falling off, to the finish line at the end. On your way, you'll face many obstacles and moving platforms that will try to knock you off or catch you off balance. The twist in Super Monkey Ball, is that you don't directly control your ball, you actually control the level! Tilting the level the right way will make your ball roll the way you want, so in actuality, you're indirectly, directly controlling your ball.

This is where the game gets fun and becomes challenging (and boy is it!). Since you control the level, you're forced to balance your ball through tight areas, steep drop offs, thin catwalks, and tons of other varying degrees of gravity-driven death. Other than the primary objective of getting through the finish line, there's also plenty of bananas (SMB's equivalent to coins or rings) to pick up on your way which raise your score, all the while you're trying to finish each level in the quickest time possible. All of this leads to some great, old school, score driven game play that is rarely seen now days.

Before I move on, I must touch on the mini-games offered in this game! Some of these things are just ingenious, in that they are so simple, yet extremely addictive (just like the main game!). There are 6 mini games in total, and while that may not seem like much, each of them are done so well they could easily compare to the actual main game, or even all of the cookie cutter, stand-alone 'party games.'

On the graphical side of the game, things are handled in the same way as the main game; very practical, very simple, yet very polished. And I do mean polished, as all of the levels have a great freshly-polished look to them, with beautiful reflection, shine, and overall glazed look. The monkeys themselves also look great, and frankly, extremely cute! Honestly, I don't think I could name a single other game character as cute as these little guys, they're so cute they even make you feel bad when you accidentally fall off a ledge :P Moving on, the only downside I can really think of about the graphics are the back grounds, which are just simple textures. Most of them have the happy, fun feeling as the rest of the game, but at the same time, they're pretty bland.

Likewise with everything else in the game, the sound also comes fully equipped with the infectious quality of the game play. It has a very up-beat, fun, jungle-like feeling to it, which strangely, I can only describe as a Donkey Kong meets dance club sound. Don't ask. The sound effects are great too, especially the monkey's voices. While subtle, and sparsely used, they really fit each monkey so perfectly and add a lot of personality to the little buggers. All in all, the audio is definitely a well rounded package in SMB.

At the end of the day, Super Monkey Ball is one extremely fun and addictive game. It packs excellent game play, graphics, and sound in one tight package, and offers some of the best multi-player action you're going to find on your Cube. If you have a Cube, and like monkeys (and who doesn't!?), then this game is for you!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/03/02, Updated 02/03/02

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