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    Super Monkey Ball    


    General Information

    Publisher: Sega

    Developer: Amusement Vision

    Players: 1 - 4

    Price: £39.99

    Released: May 3rd 2002

    There are certain elements left out of most games today, originality and game play. However Sega's first game for the Gamecube excels in both categories and sets the high standard of gaming we expected from Nintendo.



    It’s the game we’ve been waiting for, the two best videogames companies in the world unite and the finished product is what has been expected – genius.

    The game began in the arcades, then was developed for Gamecube and was one of only three released on Day One in Japan. However, great as the game was it never really got the credit it deserved…


    The point of Super Monkey Ball is simple. Tilt a floor, guiding a monkey trapped inside a ball to an exit point, picking up as many bananas as possible and exiting before the time runs out. Yes it sounds stupid and the game cover does look a little babyish, but don't let your first impressions fool you, it's challenging, rewarding and most importantly, fun.


    The key to super monkey ball is its simplicity, even the controls are basic; the 'A' button being used to progress through menu screens, and the control stick to move the floor, that’s about it. It's hard to believe it but there’s actually a 'How to Play' section.





    The graphics are amazing throughout the game, the animation of the monkey is wonderful as they celebrate or topple over backward, legs waving about in the air! The water glimmers perfectly and the background looks stunning in every floor type. The animation is smooth with absolutely no frame rate issues and the whole game looks dazzling, it’s easy to take your eye off the monkey to admire the graphics only to find him plunging into the ocean headfirst.



    The music becomes, oh so annoying as the same 3-second tune is repeated over and over and over and… However it’s perfectly suited to this type of game but you really will love to hate it.


    The sound effects are also a tad repetitive. Every banana picked up produces a loud almost guzzling sound which when running through a line of the things really does get on your nerves. The monkeys utter the occasional screech or the all too familiar ‘Help me I’m balancing and about to fall’ sound. In general not very impressive yet the game makes up for it.



    Story! Who said anything about a story! We’re talking about a monkey rolling around in a ball picking up bananas! My guess is he’s hungry.



    In single player mode there are over 90 levels to progress through and 3 difficulty settings, each including different floors. Reaching the goal in time completes a floor allowing you to progress to the next, eventually completing that difficulty setting. However falling off the edge of the floor loses you a life, and soon it's 'Game Over'.

    This game is not for the impatient, however easy it sounds, the floors are designed well and each floor is significantly different to each other. Unbelievably thin routes are included as well as bumpers, moving and spinning floor tiles, spikes, holes and sloped edges which do their best to prevent your progress.


    But the best is still to come. As if the single player mode wasn't brilliant enough, a superb multiplayer section is included too. There are three Mini games to choose from:


    •       Monkey Fight - Each monkey has a huge boxing glove attached to the ball, with which players try to hit each other off one of three levels without sides to stop them staying on. Power-ups can be picked up to give your monkey an advantage and it’s whoever has the most KO's after a minute wins!

    •       Monkey Race - Mario Kart style racing over SIX levels, including power-ups and boosters.

    •       Monkey Target - Push the monkey off a giant ramp, then open its ball to a parachute shape and land it on a huge target over the ocean, aiming for the highest point targets. Includes power-ups and a 'Wheel of Fortune' which could prevent you hitting a target because it can allow more wind, cloud, or even bombs and spike to appear in the sky!


    Completing a level on single player results in 'Play Points' being received which unlock party games in multiplayer, these are:


    •       Monkey Bowling - A game in itself, without a doubt the best of the six, roll the monkey in its ball down a bowling alley, knocking over as many pins as possible. Includes challenge mode.

    •       Monkey Golf - Pretty self-explanatory, play 18 holes of mini golf.

    •       Monkey Billiards - A nice relaxing game of billiards, the monkeys being used as the snooker balls. Includes tournament mode.


    Each game allows up to 4 human or computer players to play, and to choose one of the four characters. Even a race mode in single player is included where two players have to race to the finish.




    There are levels which look easy, hard, impossible, and then there’s the ridiculous. Frustration sets in on your twelfth attempt to clear it, but as you balance round that last corner and sail through the finish, joy overcomes all emotions, yet passes as quick as it came as you 'fly-by' the next floor. This is what computer gaming is all about. This game will last you ages. The progressive game play ensures this. The game has a ‘One Last Time’ feel to it, and you cant help but to keep trying.


    There are also many extra’s to Super Monkey Ball. Secret levels can be unlocked by succeeding in almost impossible tasks. Even the credit section has been livened up by making it into a game, on the name entry screen you roll the monkey onto the letters, you want as your name.



    Super Monkey Ball is without a doubt the best multiplayer on the Gamecube yet. The single player will keep you busy for a while, as it should with 90+ levels! But there’s something missing from it, which doesn’t tempt you back to reply the levels again and again. However the game is unlike anything gone before, and its certainly set a high standard for the Gamecube to follow. 

    Score: 91%

    by Lewis Young



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