Rolling, rolling, rolling...
Review written by
April 12th, 2011
Since the success of Super Monkey Ball as one of the launch titles for the Gamecube, Sega has seen fit to turn Monkey Ball into one of its longest running franchises, with installments appearing on practically every system and now the 3DS. While Super Monkey Ball 3D has all the basic ingredients of a Monkey Ball title, it unfortunately has all the markings of another 3DS title rushed for launch.
The game's 'Challenge' mode is instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a Monkey Ball title. Players use either the circle pad or touch screen to not move the monkey inside a rolling ball, but to move the level itself in order to move said monkeys. Bananas are spread along the way to the exit, and there are traps and hazards which may push your monkey's ball off the stage if you aren't careful, losing you lives.
There are ten stages like this per world, with seven worlds in the game. The 'Challenge' mode is fun, but is fairly short, especially compared to earlier entries in the series. The Monkey Race mode is pretty much a direct Mario Kart clone with poor handling and controls, isn't nearly as good and only features nine tracks with all of Mario Kart's irritations i.e. the unbalanced power-ups. The Monkey Fight mode is a poor man's Smash Bros., and due to control issues and gameplay focusing more on collecting bananas than fighting, isn't nearly as much fun. Compared to even the first Super Monkey Ball on Gamecube, the lack of variety in the 3DS incarnation is incredibly disappointing.
The game's graphics are pretty good, but in a game like Monkey Ball that focuses more on game than graphics, they aren't that important. It is nice that the game worlds are based on locations that aren't the stereotypical ice, fire, forest, etc, but with the exception of effects like wind and ghosts in the 'nightmare' stage, each stage ultimately has the same look, just colored differently. The 3D is nice, and in some cases can help one figure out how best to approach an area or obstacle, but like nearly every other current 3DS title, it's mostly just nice looking.
The music is forgettable and sounds very stock, with familiar sound effects taken directly from the earlier Monkey Ball titles. The same announcer who shouts 'Go!' or 'Finish!' and 'World Complete!' returns once again, which likely will make fans happy, but his inclusion doesn't make that much impact overall.
Super Monkey Ball 3D might have been a worthy launch title if the normal 'rolling' stages were a bit more like those on the console versions. Even the original Gamecube version had approximately one hundred stages, with several only becoming available if players either didn't lose lives or continues. Unfortunately, there are no hidden stages, and nearly all of the stages available are painfully easy. The last three worlds are only available if players have completed the first four, but at most it will take players only an hour and a half of play to get them. The normal mode will only take about three and a half hours at most to finish, the Monkey Race mode only has nine courses and the only variations to the lame Monkey Fight mode are those players make themselves. It is possible to play the game with local wireless play, but only with the Race and Fight modes. The game is very lacking in replay value, and the fact that nearly all of the earlier and longer Monkey Ball titles are cheaper doesn't help 3D's case.
If players are absolutely starved for more Monkey Ball action, they might want to consider checking out Super Monkey Ball 3D. Ultimately however, there are much better alternatives both among the Monkey Ball series and the 3DS launch lineup.
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