Super Monkey Ball 3D Review

Posted: July 3, 2011 in Review
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Super Monkey Ball 3D

What went wrong for this once-mighty franchise? The first instalment was the perfect test of skill and courage, forcing players to demonstrate total mastery of the GameCube’s nimble analogue stick in order to navigate a treacherous maze. The slightest mistake saw you plummet to oblivion, but the game was always fair.

This 3D instalment, the seventh in the franchise, is little more than a parody of its former self. Gone is the feeling of skill, the challenge and even most of the fun. This is a game designed for players who can barely walk straight, let alone navigate a pixel-wide guitar string.

The days of choosing between Beginner, Advanced and Expert are long gone, as this game reminds us. Instead there are eight one-size-fits-all worlds, supposedly progressing in difficulty, not that you’ll ever never notice it. Each level is as wide as an airport runway and none of them feature any obstacles harder than bumpers or tiny lumps on the floor. In fact, most of the time your main challenge will be trying to rush through the convoluted maze before the ridiculously generous sixty seconds expires.

If that sounds elitist, then that’s the fault of the writer. After all, this is a game for a new generation of players, for those who aren’t familiar with the glory days of monkeys in balls. But then again, this isn’t a hard game. In fact, the majority of the game can be beaten within two hours. Having stumped up thirty five quid just to play it, you’d expect a little more monkey for your buck.

Sure, there are a couple of other bits bolted on to the side, but they’re equally insipid. Monkey Race is an appalling version of Mario Kart minus the enjoyment. Monkey Fight is a knockoff Smash Bros clone that handles like the developer was drunk and both of these mini games can be played with other people, although your friends may hate you for it. Why isn’t Monkey Target – widely renowned as the best Monkey Ball mini game ever – on here? Was it too similar to Pilotwings? Are Sega so lazy they won’t bother to develop a decent game before they release it?

Not everything about the game is bad. There is one saving grace – the 3D effect is remarkable, especially on some of the busier stages. The backgrounds loop, swirl and entice your eye at all times, miles away and yet so close. The mazes stretch out to the horizon and desperate sprints to the finish line suddenly become so much more intense when you can see how close you are to it.

But, being Sega, they’ve found a way to do away with that. There are two control options for the mazes – the comfortable circle pad and the motion-controlled gyroscopes. Unfortunately, Sega haven’t taken into account that the 3D effect doesn’t work when the system is moved away from being perfectly eye level, meaning that the gyroscope controls can only be used when the 3D is turned off. This is like playing an arcade game after smashing the screen.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say for Super Monkey Ball 3D. Far too short, far too easy, with no replay value at all. Perhaps it’s time to put this franchise to bed.

30%

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