After a Super Monkey Ball remake for the PS2 / Xbox and a DS remake, we’re finally getting an all new game in the Super Monkey Ball series. Instead it isn’t just a banana grabbing brain bending puzzle game, it is an adventure game. Aiai, Meemee and the rest of the monkey ball squad were hanging out on Jungle Island when a feud breaks out due to star crossed monkey love between a prince and a princess. Instead of doing nothing like the rest of the inhabitants, Aiai jumps into action to bring joy back into the monkey ball kingdom.
The adventure is spread across five different worlds where you roll around Aiai or any of the other three characters in your hamster-like monkey ball. While rolling around you can interact with other monkeys by talking to them. Most of the monkeys have some kind of problem like delivering a balloon, finding a baby, or hungry for their lunch. No matter what the problem is, it is pretty much a fetch quest for Aiai. Completing these gives increases the joy and makes the world a better place for monkey kind. The adventure is sort of open ended since there is no real pressure to roll around to the next area. Players can spend hours just doing mini quests for their simian buddies and they probably would if the adventure mode wasn’t as frustrating. If you want to get from point A to B all you can do is roll. Since you can’t jump to higher areas you have to seek out colored flowers to bounce on. While in mid air the camera often goes in awkward angles, which can make it difficult for players to find the next platform. Here’s the worse part if you end up falling off you’re thrown back to the start of the area and you have to start a quest all over again. This makes the first few hours of adventure mode really frustrating. Things get better as Aiai learns chants, which give his monkey ball new abilities like a boxing glove to crush rocks and invisibility to dodge the ghost-like naysayers, but fans of the series are likely to give up on adventure mode before they get there.
The big new idea really didn’t pan out for Super Monkey Ball Adventure, so it’s a good thing that Traveller’s Tales kept familiar elements from the series. Instead of facing puzzles in adventure mode, gamers could just play challenge mode. Challenge mode is just like the original games where you roll around a monkey ball to a goal. At the beginning only the beginner difficulty is unlocked, but after completing that players can face more complex puzzles in advanced mode. The first set of puzzles are basic where you have to maneuver the monkey ball around mobile platforms or in the ripple level you have to bounce the monkey ball from vertically moving ledges. The advanced mode has some clever puzzles that are bound to perplex and challenge fans of the series. The first level has a bunch of free floating bowls that you need to spin around in to jump from each bowl to the goal.
Another returning element from the series are party games. The multiplayer party games are always one of the best parts of the Super Monkey Ball series and it this remains true in SMB Adventure. There are six games to play. Three of them, monkey fight, race and target are staples of the series. Monkey fight add spring loaded boxing gloves to the monkey balls, which are used to push other players off a ledge. Monkey race is a mad dash to the finish line with items like the polygon ball to attack other players. In monkey target you get a chance to glide around with an open monkey ball. Monkey cannon is a fast paced game where you shoot your monkey ball out of a cannon into an opponent’s towers. Players score points by knocking bricks down and eliminate players if their flag falls from the top of their castle to the ground. Monkey bounce has players move a bouncing monkey ball on a board to cover squares in different colors. Who ever colors the most spots wins. Finally there is monkey tag where players try to grab balloons while attacking their fellow monkey friends by throwing bananas at them. The Gamecube version has an advantage over the PS2 version here since four players can jump in right out of the box.
Besides the new adventure mode not much has changed in Super Monkey Ball Adventure. The graphics are fairly the same, except for the slightly different art style done by Traveller’s Tales and the music is reused from the other console games. Because of this its going to be newcomers to the series who are likely to enjoy Super monkey Ball Adventure more than hardcore fans of the series.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0
We had a chance to play the North American version of Super Monkey Ball Adventure, which is in English.
Sega released Super Monkey Ball Adventure in the USA on 08.01.06.
+ Pros: Three new party games and a handful of original puzzles.
– Cons: Awkward controls and a confusing camera make the adventure mode more frustrating than fun.
Overall: Rolling around monkeys in a 3D world sounds like fun, but the adventure mode in Super Monkey Ball Adventure just didn’t work out. The controls are difficult and the laggy camera makes the game frustrating. Fans of the series might be pleased with some of the new mini games, like castle and the ability to play the puzzles in challenge mode.
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