Review: Super Monkey Ball 3D

Super Monkey Ball has had a hard time with motion controls. The lack of a neutral position on the Wii Remote has made things a bit tricky. While other games, such as Kororinpa, designed the gameplay around the Wii Remote; Super Monkey Ball kept the much-loved gameplay and made it easier to accommodate the toughness of the controls. Super Monkey Ball 3D returns the franchise to it’s roots of precise analogue stick controls. Does this mean a return to form?

In a way, yes. The circle pad makes for some precise controls and it feels like the GameCube originals. You have the additional option of using motion controls but for this you’ll need to turn the 3D off (unless you want your brain to melt) and in later levels you’ll need to hold the 3DS at angles that make the screen hard to see. The graphics are bright and colourful, but fairly basic. What is impressive is the 3D. The tilting of the world gives a satisfyingly dizzy effect.

Monkey Ball 3D starts off with seven worlds, each consisting of ten short levels and a bonus banana-gathering world. The bananas are there purely to get extra lives which are fairly pointless as once you lose your lives you can simply continue from the level you’re on. Unless you’re aiming for high scores which, frankly, isn’t at all likely in this game, then there is no punishment for running out of lives. Not that you’ll die much anyway. You’ll fall off on one or two levels but there are loads of barriers that prevent you from falling off levels. The first world even has a lowered trench to aid you even further – this includes the starting level where you just have to hold forward. Yes, you heard that right, the developers thought that people playing the game would need an aid to help them move two metres forwards. Hazards, which mainly consist of weak bumpers and some cake-like texture that I think is supposed to be dirt, are there to simply slow you down as opposed to killing you.

Once you’ve made it through the seven worlds, which should take around 90 minutes, you’ll be treated to the credits game. Super Monkey Ball is known for it’s fun credit games, like the Smash Bros. series, but this one is very slow, very boring and feels like it lasts for 10 minutes. I’m certain that it takes up more time than one of the worlds. After this is over it’s easy to feel relieved that the game is over and never touch it again. The game doesn’t tell you that you’ve unlocked an eight world. This hidden world is what Super Monkey Ball is all about – there are plenty of hazards, you’ll die a lot and it’s a lot of fun. If this had been the basis for the second world – with later ones increasing the difficulty from this – then this would have been a complete return to form.

The minigames in this – Monkey Race and Monkey Fight – seem like they’ve both had the same development time as the main game. While fans may be fond of both games from previous titles, they’ve been re-designed from scratch in this iteration.

Monkey Race is a Mario Kart clone. While Sega have shown that they can make a good kart racer, none of the All-Stars Racing team passed on any tips to Dimps. The biggest problem is overpowered weapons. Unlike other kart games, the weapons on this will stop you completely. The singularity (Red Shell) homes in on the racer in front and freezes them in place for a good five seconds while the disco ball (Lightning) causes everyone to spin on the spot for way too long. They didn’t even put in any dancing or funky music when it’s in use. All the other weapons follow the same lines and it means that there will be times where you can’t do a single thing for about 20 seconds, which feels like an age in a racing game, due to items. The levels are bland and there’s no fun to be had.

Monkey Fight is also a clone of a popular Nintendo title – this time Super Smash Bros. Again, this completely lacks all the charm of the game it’s trying to copy. The aim of the game is to hold the most bananas at the end of the game. Bananas are picked up from the stage and can be beaten out of opponents by punching their lights out. There are a few extra modes, if you can count hiding the score as a separate game mode, which alter the rules slightly but don’t change how you play the game. The must fun tactic is to jump around the arena avoiding the dodgy combat. One plus with this mode is the fantastic 3D effect when you open a golden barrel (Smash Ball) – the monkey flies at the screen then zooms into the barrel.

Super Monkey Ball 3D is light on content and is full of easy level design. The controls and physics of the main game are spot-on but you don’t meet any challenge until the hidden last world. If anything, this world highlights how this game could have been brilliant, which makes it feel so much more disappointing.


Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 3/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Playability: 4/5
Lifespan: 2/5

Pro:

  • Great controls.
  • 3D looks amazing.
  • The last world.
  • Has lots of potential

Con:

  • Fails to meet said potential.
  • Very short.
  • Very easy.

Final Verdict:
While the groundwork for a great Super Monkey Ball is there, the level design fails to realise this potential.

6/10

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