Kinda forgot about posting my reviews here, so this one's a bit old:
There’s no air, you’re entrapped in a colorful sphere, forced to collect bananas and roll around precarious ledges, where the slightest mistake means a fall to your doom. No, that’s not describing some obscure torture method, it’s Super Monkey Ball! The popular arcade game that has been entertaining GameCube fans since launch has finally made it to the Xbox, and the port-job isn’t a shabby one. Including all the levels from the two GameCube versions, the Xbox version also has 46 exclusive levels, which makes for a total 300 levels of monkey rolling fun.
If you’re expecting this game to lack a story, you’re in for a treat, because Sega, for some reason, felt the need to include one. The story, (which is clearly targeted towards kids or teenagers with a warped sense of humor) is that the evil Dr. Bad-Boon steals all the bananas from the monkeys’ village and the only way to get them back is to roll around in a ball throughout his labyrinth and collect them. As you can easily assume, the story, aside from being presented in a ludicrously humorous manner, is absolutely forgettable and unnecessary to provide enjoyment with this title.
The premise is simple, you pick a monkey in a ball, you roll your monkey around to the goal and pick up any bananas you can along the way. The only real control you use for the main game is done with the left thumbstick, which actually rotates the stage and thus causes your monkey to roll accordingly. Each level is a different floating platform, which requires you to maneuver to the goal. The platforms are not all static, and many of them are moving, which necessitates you to time your movements accordingly. Sure, the game sounds easy, and early on, it is just that. Rolling around and collecting bananas within the time limit is almost leisurely at the beginning, but then Super Monkey Ball rears its ugly head. A portion of the stages in the game are some of the most incredibly difficult, arduous and just plain annoying levels ever conceived by man. The levels become fast moving, full of holes, rotating and just incredibly frustrating, putting all your skills to the test to keep your little monkey on the platforms. If you thought games like Ninja Gaiden were hard, certain levels of Super Monkey Ball will quickly change your mind. In addition to the main story mode (and its hilarious cutscenes), there’s challenge mode which pits up to four players against each other in alternate matches, to see who can complete the level the quickest. Competition mode has two to four players competing to beat levels simultaneous for the best time, which is much more hectic.
If you’re tired of falling to your death in the story mode, you can always turn to the main multiplayer, which offers some of the best mini-games known to man. There are 12 excellent mini-games, which will suck your life away, perhaps more than the main game itself. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary here, but get three friends and consider your night to be gone. You can play all of the mini-games with four players, with computer-controlled opponents available to fill player slots, if the need arises. Most of the mini-games are great, such as Monkey Target, where you fly and try to land on certain circles to acquire the most points, and Monkey Race, which combines Monkey Ball rolling and Mario Kart powerups. There are sports that have been “monkey-ized” such as Monkey Baseball, Monkey Soccer and the awesome Monkey Golf and Monkey Tennis. The games are simple, yet addictive and fun, and you’re sure to invest plenty of time into playing them with or even without friends.
Simplistic best describes the “kiddie” cartoonish aesthetic that is sported by this game. The graphics aren’t going to wow the Splinter Cell players, but they don’t look bad by any means. Textures are pretty smooth and the game runs flawlessly, even with its minimal loading. A few different backgrounds that change as you progress help add some variation, but for the most part, you’ll be looking at your monkey’s rear, bananas and colored tiles. The game is simple and that’s passable for this type of game. I’m also pleased to see that the blatantly offensive Dole logos are gone off the bananas, because I hated choking on the advertising on the GameCube version. Also, the monkeys themselves look fairly good as well, even if there are only four different types.
If the cutesy graphics weren’t enough of a clue to what the audio is like, simplistic and minimal fits the bill here as well. SMBD’s soundtrack is quickly forgettable, being very basic and with little emphasis placed on it. Custom soundtracks would’ve been great for this game, especially in multiplayer, but unfortunately that feature was not implemented. A very annoying feature (if you don’t tune it out, that is) is that every second, the timer makes a chime noise, which can annoy you, if you let it. If you fall or bump into something, your monkey may let out a yelp and the monkeys “talk” in the cutscenes, which means a bunch of monkey noises with subtitles underneath.
The main game only involves the left thumbstick, that’s it, so if you can’t get that down, chances are, you don’t have thumbs. You absolutely need to be skilled with the thumbstick though, because the later stages require an immense amount of skill. The minigames are very simple, often using just a few buttons in conjunction with the left thumbstick. This game sports some of the most simple controls of any game, enabling it easy to pick up and play for any age demographic.
You have 300 stages and a bunch of them are incredibly difficult, if you need more than that, you have the incredibly addictive multiplayer and if you need more than that, chances are you should go outside, because you could use the fresh air. The ‘Deluxe’ in Super Monkey Ball Deluxe is really emphasized through the cornucopia of content offered in the game. There are multiple ways to play the main levels, either by yourself or with friends and the addictive minigames offer countless replay hours, provided you have someone to play with. Online would’ve greatly helped replay value, but it’s not present, nor would it be as good as playing with your friends.
For only $30, you get one of the most content rich games of recent memory. There are 300 missions in the story mode, 12 very addictive mini-games for up to four players and countless hours of gameplay here. This game is great for any age demographic, with simple gameplay and controls, coupled with its addictive multiplayer. It’s also appropriate and targeted to kids, because of the cartoon aesthetic, simple sound and kiddie story. The challenge provided on some levels also makes this perfect for the older crowd. If you’re looking for an addictive, easy to pick up and play game, there’s no better monkey rolling game than Super Monkey Ball Deluxe.
Gameplay - 8.7
Graphics - 7.6
Audio - 6.2
Control - 8.8
Reply - 9.1
Overall - 8.6
Super Monkey Ball Deluxe - Ntsc
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