Super Monkey Ball 3DESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: 3DS, Puzzle
Playable in 3D and 2D mode
I have to admit up until about a month ago I was on the fence about picking up a Nintendo 3DS. The technology is undeniably cool but the $250.00 plus taxes price tag was indeed a hefty one. Nevertheless, I picked up Nintendo’s latest handheld gaming machine and gave SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball 3D a spin. The game stands as my first introduction to the 3D generation of gaming and I have to say it the 3D effects are very cool, unfortunately the rest of the game left little to be desired.
Overall, Super Monkey Ball 3D is a good looking game. Fans of the franchise will be pleased as the cute little monkey has never looked better. The game is very colourful and bright, and the large number of varied levels looks good. You do not get much in the way of detail, but what you do get looks decent. Aside from some occasional clipping issues, the game ran quite smooth. That “monkey in a ball” moved very fluidly and life-like; well as life-like as a monkey inside of a ball can get.
The 3D effects are also fairly good. It can certainly be a strain on your eyes at some points, but the Super Monkey Ball world certainly comes to life in 3D. Up close some of the effects are lost as they become blurred which in turn causes the game to becomes hard to focus, so many gamers may resort to playing the game in 2D as my daughter frequently did.
Super Monkey Ball 3D is fairly basic in the sound department. The music is very repetitive and will grate you after awhile. Nevertheless, the game’s target audience likely won’t have any concerns with the music. As for the sound effects, again they are about what I expected and suit the game as they are nothing incredibly innovative but they do get the job done. This being said, I was quite surprised with how clear the game’s sound was. Much of this might have to do with the 3DS technology, but nevertheless it is a clear and crisp sounding game on any volume level.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Super Monkey Ball franchise, Super Monkey Ball 3D is an action puzzler that has you controlling a ball with a monkey inside of it. Using the circle pad or the gyroscope (motion control), the object of the game is to navigate your monkey towards the goal within an allotted time. Along the way you need to collect as many bananas as possible. It is really that simple and makes for game anyone can pick and play from the get go. It is certainly perfect for gaming on the go, but after less than an hour of gameplay you have pretty much seen all you need to see out of this Super Monkey Ball.
When you first fire up the game you are presented with a couple of options. You can play either “Single” where you play the game alone or against the AI depending on the mode, or you can play “Vs Mode” where play against a combination of human and AI players via wireless communication. As can be expected, I spent most of my time in “Single” mode. Here there are three fully-featured gameplay modes: “Monkey Ball”, which plays out like your traditional Super Monkey Ball puzzles as I described above; "Monkey Race", where players race each other in frantic car battles; and "Monkey Fight", where players fight each other in manic brawls similar to the Super Smash Brothers series of games.
I spent most of my time in the “Monkey Ball” mode which is where the heart and soul of the game lies. The first time you play there are four worlds available in the world map and each world is made of 10 stages which are cleared by successfully navigating your way towards the goal mark. Once you clear the stage you are given a score and you subsequently proceed to the next stage and so on. Initially I started using the motion controls in 3D, but I was immediately turned off. I actually felt nauseous at one point. The game really needs to be played with the circle pad where you can keep the 3DS still and to truly maximize your experience. The game is much more responsive and accurate when playing with the circle pad as well. Controlling the monkey ball is much easier and well you won’t get sick leaving the 3D on, which is how the game is meant to be played. The unfortunate part is that after about 15 minutes I was pretty much done with this mode. It gets repetitive very quickly and the experience is somewhat shallow. The game does feature the addition of the modes mentioned above, but again you are left with a somewhat shallow package.
The “Monkey Race” and “Monkey Fight” serve as merely cheap add-ons which serve to only break up the monotony of the “Monkey Ball” challenges. “Money Race” plays very much like Mario Kart but is nowhere near the quality. “Monkey Fight” also plays out like a poor-mans Smash Bros. Previous Super Monkey Ball games have had more mini-games; sadly this one only has the two. The cool aspect of these games however is you do have the ability to play with friends. They can be played via wireless connection with up to four players locally. Very cool indeed but keep in mind this requires some of your friends to pick a game, which at the time of writing this review feels overpriced.
On the surface Super Monkey Ball 3D is a decent looking game with slick 3D effects. and the core “Monkey Ball” mode offers up some solid entertainment. My biggest concern is that after you peel away the banana outer skin, the Super Monkey Ball 3D experience is somewhat shallow as there is not nearly enough content here to justify paying full pop for game that will be collecting dust much sooner than later, which is sad given how past games have been so good.