Review by Kaas

Reviewed: 02/14/05

Great game, single and multiplayer.

Super Monkey Ball was one of the GameCube’s launchgames, and was an instant success. It was developed by SEGA, who are excellent developers in my book. The idea is to guide a monkey in a ball (hence Monkey Ball) to a goal, without falling off the platform. This is of course easier said than done…

If you haven’t played a Monkey Ball game before, chances are high you’ve never played with controls like this. As I said, the idea is to guide your monkey in a ball towards the goal. You pick one of the four monkeys (each with their own specific uses; one is light, the other heavy etc.) and you guide him or her over long and bumpy platforms (called floors) filled with obstacles and moving parts. However, you don’t control the ball. You control the platform. You can tilt the platform, which will make your ball move; with the analogue stick it is possible to be very precise in this. However, a lot of the courses have holes in them, and no borders on the edges, making you monkey fall down. Whenever you fall down, you lose a life. It’ll take some getting used to, but once you’ve got it under control, it is a great experience and it will play very intuitive. The only catch is you’ll need to complete every level within a time-limit, which isn’t always very easy. The control stick is the only thing you’ll need for playing the main mode, which is something I haven’t seen yet. The A Button is used in some of the multiplayer games though.

The courses are very varied and fun. You can choose between three different difficulties (beginner, advanced and expert), each with their own set of courses. The courses will sometimes be very straightforward, but sometimes there will be a lot of bends, twists and jumps in them. A lot of the courses have moving parts to make them extra difficult. Many of the courses have very original ideas in them, such as rolling over guitar strings or going very fast down-hill to jump across a hole. Scattered over the courses are a lot of bananas to be collected, sometimes on the edge of a platform. There’s also the occasional warpzone to be discovered…

Every time you complete a course you will move up a level, but you’ll also gain some points. With these points, you can buy minigames. There are a total of three minigames to unlock, and they’re very fun to play. There are also three party games, so once you’re bored with the main game, there’s plenty more to do. Every one of these extra games can be played in multiplayer, up until 4 players in most of the games. These games are also pretty varied, as they range from Monkey Bowling and Monkey Golf to Monky Billiards and Monkey Fight. If you have some friends over, these games are extremely fun to do and will guarantee a fun evening for all of you.

The graphics of this game are very good, especially since this was a launch-game. Usually I don’t expect great graphics in a puzzlegame, but here the courses look very nice and colourful (there’s a lot of green and yellow used), the background is pretty detailed and the monkeys themselves look pretty cute. I have no complaints here, there even isn’t any lag (even with four players simultaneously).

Even though the sound isn’t very important in this game (you’ll be too concentrated on playing the difficult courses), it isn’t bad. There are a few tracks, and they change after a few levels. I like the fact the music doesn’t stop when you finish a level, but continues into the new level. It only stops when it changes. The monkeys themselves make some sounds, and there’s a narrator every now and then when you select a mode. All is pretty good, but there’s an annoying ticking also, caused by the clock. It ticks every second and can get on your nerves. Also, when your time is almost up, some guy starts counting down, and has been the cause of my falling to my doom, because he tends to startle me… Other than that, the sounds and music are pretty good.

Play Time/Replayability
Well, this game will take you a long time to complete. There are a lot of levels, and some of them are extremely hard. Even if you eventually finish all levels, there are still some (again, very hard) extra levels to unlock and play. Once you’re finally done with all those levels, it’s time for the mini- and partygames (which you also have to unlock)!

You can play them by yourself or invite some friends over. These games are very fun and addictive, and will last a long time. The game also keeps track of the highscores, so you can always try and improve yourself (or your friend). This game can be played for a long time…

Final Recommendation
When I bought this game, it was only 20 euros. This is a very cheap price for a game this fun. You’ll be playing this for a long time, and you’ll even play it longer if you have some friends to play with. Every GameCube player should own this classic game.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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