• Super Monkey Ball Review - Nintendo Gamecube

    Super Monkey Ball first hit the arcades in mid-2001. Created by Amusement Vision, headed by the charismatic Toshihiro Nagoshi. The game was originally scheduled as a Dreamcast title, however with its demise it was shifted over to Nintendo's Gamecube, and emerged as the first jewel in the fledgling consoles crown. The main premise of Monkey Ball is simple. There is no tactical espionage, twisty political trickery, frantic shoot em' up action or complex lists of combos.

    Guide a small monkey, encased within a transparent ball, around a series of courses to the goal without falling off the edge or exceeding the time limit. There is the opportunity to collect bananas on the way and when 100 are collected you gain an extra life. You as the player however do not directly control the ball, but tilt the floor in order to move the grinning little chimp of your choice.

    The gameplay, true to its arcade heritage, is pick-up-and-play simplicity at its best. The control system has been perfectly tailored to the Gamecube's joypad and responds with pixel perfect accuracy to even the most subtle of movements. It is the intuitive control combined with the bewildering number of courses on offer ranging from the straightforward to nigh on impossible which make Monkey Ball such a unique and rewarding experience. The gentle learning-curve and cute outward appearance masks some of the toughest and most challenging gaming situations that you ever likely to face. The sheer euphoria of victory is balanced by the slow inexorable sinking feeling created when you watch your monkey falling to its peril. The line between frustration and the will to succeed is finely drawn.

    The sensory experience of Monkey Ball is certainly no disappointment either. Some superb reflection and water effects are amplified by the clean textures and constant 60 fps. The menu presentation is simple but functional. Fittingly, it is supported by a cheerful, upbeat soundtrack. There is a selection of tunes on offer with each main area of the game having its own theme. However there is not much variety and the music can become irritating and repetitive especially in the later stages where total concentration is needed. Another irritating feature which seems synonymous with 3D gaming is the at times unwieldy camera. It is especially noticeable when having to make turns at speed due to its deathly slow rotation, which against the imposing time limit can make the difference between progression or failure.

    These small irritations can compound the feeling of seething frustration created when watching your monkey edge off the relative safety of the platform into the surrounding expanse of multi coloured emptiness. To complete the game in its entirety is a mammoth task which requires a great deal of skill on behalf of the player as the physics allow for no element of luck. The ball is either on the platform or off, there is no in-between. This unflinching difficulty level can at times be disheartening but in Super Monkey Ball practice certainly makes perfect.

    A plethora of party and mini games are available. There are three available to begin with, and another three are unlocked once enough points are collected in the main game. There is a diverse range, from the visually sublime Monkey Target to the understated satisfaction of Monkey Bowling. There is something here to please all tastes and is a worthy addition to the main game. However rather than being simple tacked on distractions they are superbly crafted games in their own right. They truly shine as a multi-player experience where the simple gameplay fused with bright colourful graphics are swiftly satisfying.

    Beating at the heart of Super Monkey Ball is pure unadulterated game play. It is a simple foundation to a highly addictive and engaging experience. AV has managed to create a unique and accessible game with balance and style. Its captivating individual nuances shine through. The simply faultless control system combined with finely tuned physics and superb level design create a truly enjoyable experience. It is under no false pretences. It is designed to be fun and this it executes with aplomb, epitomised by the cheeky grin across your monkeys face as he trustingly trots to the goal.

    Monkey Ball is accessible enough to appease even the most casual of gamers, yet the mainstay of its challenge will keep the hardcore coming back time and time again. The difficulty is however a double-edged sword with some sections being insanely tough to the point of near impossibility, but persevere and you will be rewarded.

    A review by Michael Corbin
  • Ebay Spotlight


    Temjin Virtual On Figure, boxed

    Thread Starter: Asura


    Last Post By: Asura 30-06-2021, 07:47 AM Go to last post