Nintendo Reviews Rating:
Age 7+
Posted: January 19th, 2005
By: Webmaster-Josh
The beginning days of the GCN weren't that great. Super Monkey Ball was one of the kick-off Nintendo Gamecube games.
Is this one of the games that shined in that time?

Starting with the music, it seems that this got the simple treatment that the rest of the game got. Nothing major in this
area, but the music samples aren't too bad, either. There's just not enough variety to be considered good. The music is
highly recognizable as MIDI music, and there's not much orchestral feel to it. The music can also get very repetitive, as
there is not much to go around. Modes like Monkey Races use the same tune over and over. It could be worse, but it could
also have been much better.
The sound is decent, but the same redundancy applies here, too. There's hardly any monkey sounds, so you'll easily get
annoyed by the same sounds over and over. The courses are all the same material, so there's only one sound for knocking
into a wall or on a platform. The ball you move around in makes a whirring noise relative to your speed. It's somewhat
creative, but nevertheless annoying. The voices are okay, but obviously not needed. This helps barely to guide you
through, but not a necessary addition. Basically, the audio is only average, if it's even at that. The simplicity is acceptable,
but it feels way overdone.

The entire game is controlled with just the control stick. That's right, like Kirby Air Ride, only this game was first. That's
not bad, because that's all you need. This game is like Labyrinth, but 3D and with many twists. Instead of controlling the
ball, you control the board, by tilting any direction you want. Of course, this is much better than the ol' Labyrinth, because
you have very good control, and it is responsive.
There are times when you do use buttons, but it's not in the main game. The side games have some A button pressing, and
some others here and there, but overall, you won't have trouble picking this game up. If you ever get confused about a
new mode, you can pause the game, and you can toggle between very helpful 'help screens'. These will explain the controls,
and rules. The camera is almost never faulty, which is a problem I was worried about before. It can be difficult to see
behind you sometimes, but you won't be going there much. There's no control over it, but that's usually not an issue.
The physics also seem true, although I am not sure that monkey balls can move at 200 MPH. Sometimes, it can get
frustrating, but that's more of a design relevance, as you always seem in total control, no matter what mode you are
playing. Overall, this is a solid designed control, with only some minor improvements needed.

This really feels like an arcade game, and that's what it looks like. There is not much
detail in this game, and that's where the graphics really fall. So there may be no
framerate problems, or resolution issues, but there's nothing else here going for it. The
background are poorly designed, with nothing extraordinary.
You have to go out of the main game to see the better stuff. Other modes have some
neat effects, like water. Even then, there could have been really beautiful levels. Instead,
they used a very simple palette. There's the same bananas, the same courses, the same
balls. The character models also lack some attention. For a simple game, there's simple
graphics. They're pretty effortless.

Here's the best aspect of the game. This game filled to the brim with stuff. There's the Main Game, with 90 puzzling levels.
10 of those are Beginner, 30 are Advanced, and 50 are Expert. What I don't like is that 50 of them are on Expert. Not
many people will get past 20 of those stages. The good thing is that there are extra stages that you can only play in the
Main Game, but only by not falling off any stage once throughout the entire difficulty. These extra stages are pretty cool,
but are short-lasting.
By playing the main game a lot, you'll unlock three mini-games. Monkey billiards is just like Billiards. There's only one
level, but this mode can get addicting. Too bad, only two players can play. Monkey bowling is just like bowling, except there
a line that you try to set as straight as you can. You also mix you position with power, and then you use the L and R to
spin. There's only one level, again, but it's very addicting, especially with four players. The final mini-game is Monkey
golf, which is actually just mini-golf. There aren't any mini-golfing games out there, so this is welcome. There's only one
level (catch my drift?), and this one is not so addicting as the others; and that's coming from somebody who loves golf!
There are also three party games unlockable from the start. Monkey race is okay, at six levels. The most detail in the
entire game was put here, but the courses are still simple. Monkey fight is like a melee, but with limited items and only
one punch. This is only fun with four people. The final party game is Monkey target. Players alternate shooting their
monkey off into the air. This is fun at first, but is slow and gets boring after a while.
The game focuses on records, so the fun in just beating yourself is here. You'll probably have the most time spent wit the
main game, and not the extras. This isn't the most fun game out on the market, but certainly good on a rainy day. It just
seems that experts are rewarded mode, but you can still play this game for about 20 hours. There's more with the
multiplayer modes, but only if you can get people to play it.

This is a very innovative game. Who thought that moving a ball around maze-like levels could be so much fun. Just
getting a lot of people to watch with you as you try to tackle these tough courses, is fun enough right there. This game just
doesn't feel like a very polished video game. It seems that the developers lose focus on what's most fun-Main Game. Yes,
it's cool to see a compilation of a bunch of games, but they are all just decent. None of the games are extremely fun, and
none are worth playing over, unless you really enjoy them.
There's enough stuff, that chances are you'll find a mode or game that you like. There's definitely room for improvement
when it comes to extras, but the Main Game is fantastic. The levels are very ingenious, and creative. They make appear
simple, but just try some of the later ones, and they get challenging. The difficulty is well adjusted, although the Expert
Mode was obsessed with, when the developers should realize that many people won't get that far. There's also a good thing
out of that. It's very difficult to say you've completed the entire game, and that's an accomplishment worth working
toward. It's also cool, because as you progress, you'll come across some really cool levels. If you think the levels are bland,
then you haven't played the Expert ones.
Overall, the design is very good. I feel that they lose their focus on some of the extra stuff, and could have put that into
the Main Game. The variety, is not surpassed by many other games these days, and this can turn into a very humorous
game, depending on who's watching. This game can also get frustrating, as some of the levels are not fun, but just
annoying. If you get can get past these differences, you'll find a very enjoyable GCN game.





Final Words

This is a pretty decent game, but once again, it's just not polished enough to be any higher. Looking past these, you can
truly find a game worth its value. This Player's Choice title is worth the $20, if you've got it laying around. I do
recommend a rent first, as there are some who will love this, but some will hate it. It's also worth noting that Super
Monkey Ball 2 is out, and I have heard it is much better. If I ever get a chance to sit down and play it, I'll be sure to
review it.