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Platform

3DS

 

Genre

Puzzle / Racing

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

Dimps

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

March 27, 2011

 

 

- Smooth 3D visuals
- Motion control scheme is ideal for this game
- Monkey Race a fun distraction until Mario Kart 3D

 

 

- Must choose between 3D visuals or Gyro Sensor
- AI can be punishing at times
- Lack of online leaderboards, multiplayer

 

 

Action Figure Review: AIAI and GONGON (Super Monkey Ball)

Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (Wii)

Review: Nintendogs + Cats (3DS)

 

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Super Monkey Ball 3D

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

super monkey ball 3d          super monkey ball 3d

 

Sega sure knows how to milk their franchises for all they’re worth; Debuting as an Arcade exclusive in 2000, Monkey Ball began its console life on the GameCube the following year underneath the title “Super Monkey Ball”, and has since been released across every known electronic platform with the marketing speed of a supersonic hedgehog. Generally aimed at kids, the game enjoys a cult following thanks to its visuals and gameplay that make bouncing around a monkey trapped in an airtight bubble ball seem adorable and charming.

Just as how Nintendo couldn’t get the latest Mario or Zelda ready in time for their initial line-up of 3DS launch games, Sega has also been forced to bring out their B-

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grade series to represent the 3D love. With revolutionary 3D technology and a bevy of gameplay modes, does this monkey ball soar right out of the park, or is doomed to fail like this tacked-on baseball analogy?

Super Monkey Ball 3D features three different gameplay mechanics, although the one that takes center stage is the titular “Monkey Ball” mode, where players can choose one out of

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several simians including main hero AiAi, his neglected love interest MeeMee, their time-traveling baby from the future (called “Baby”, believe it or not), former rival GonGon, among others. While each monkey possesses individual strengths and weaknesses in the other two game modes, there’s no distinction between any of them in the Monkey Ball mode.

Like its predecessors, the goal of Monkey Ball is to maneuver the encased ape to its target goal in each stage without falling off the edge and into the bottomless pit. Considering the high speeds those monkey balls can travel, it’s no easy task, but with enough practice and replays, it doesn’t take long to score the fastest clear times while also managing to collect the bananas and other collectibles littered throughout each level.

Control-wise, the 3DS version offers two options: the circle pad or the gyro sensor. With the circle pad, players are given a typical-yet-functional analog control that’s pressure sensitive and should be the most familiar choice for veteran gamers. Using the second option, however, allows for a more precise control style that fits the game well, allowing you to tilt your 3DS handheld around like balancing the monkey ball atop a small table. This new control scheme is overall the better of the two, but it also comes with a price: moving the 3DS around will break the 3D effect, which ultimately means that you will have to stick to playing the game in 2D if you wish to utilize this control scheme. It causes one to question why Nintendo would apply two contradictory features on their new handheld, but it’s unfortunate as the 3D effect is one of the better seen among the other launch titles.

 

super monkey ball 3d         super monkey ball 3d

 

The next game mode is “Monkey Race”, which is just like every other racing game that’s a Mario Kart knock-off. Sega take`s things to an almost plagiarizing degree, however, with the use of power-ups, power slides, and other mechanics already perfected by Nintendo’s racing spin-off over a decade ago. As far as knock-offs go, however, Monkey Race is one of the better offerings, and serves as a decent appetizer until Nintendo releases their inevitable Mario Kart 3D edition. The 3D effect is strong, the racing is fast, and the track selection is decent.

The third and final mode is “Monkey Fight”; this time, it’s Super Smash Bros. that serves as the biggest “inspiration”, only instead of knocking out opponents from the stage, the goal is to possess the most number of bananas before the timer runs out. This is achieved, simply enough, by pummeling rival monkeys and forcing them to drop their golden loot. At random intervals, a magic barrel will also appear, and whoever manages to break it down will receive a one-time special attack that can cause major damage to nearby opponents. Unlike Monkey Race, this homage isn’t quite as lovingly plagiarized, and suffers from stiff controls, brutal AI, and the tedious mechanic of mashing a button to recover every time you lose your footing from an attack. Worse still is that there’s no option to replay levels in either Race or Fight, which means having to play through all the stages when selecting Gran Prix or Series (respectively) even when you know that you won’t be placing at 1st by the end.

Ultimately, Super Monkey Ball’s 3D debut is an adequate distraction for younger 3DS owners, although the deceptive difficulty might prove frustrating for players both young and old. Much like Pilotwings Resort, this first generation title is just a prelude to the potential of the 3DS, and obsessive completionists may spend hours trying to master each level and mode until they achieve the highest scores among their local peers. It’s just too bad that the game also lacks an online leaderboard for worldwide gloating; while the lack of a feature may prove inconsequential for the younguns, it goes without saying that older gamers tend to want their feats recognized by everyone.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(May 26, 2011)

 

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