Super Monkey Ball 3D Review

Super Monkey Ball 3D

"I mean, that’s sort of cool, right?" I asked my girlfriend, who was immersed in playing catch with her Pug, Otis. "You know, like, technologically. It’s interesting." In my hand I was holding a 3DS, running Super Monkey Ball 3D. I had taken a break from the puzzling, which after about fifteen-minutes had given me a splitting headache.

Launch titles are rough, and there are few examples where they manage to be anything more than glorified tech demos. In fact, oftentimes they fail to even reach that benchmark, falling victim to basic follies that, a few months later, will be ironed out entirely. When it comes to the 3DS, these issues are multiplied tenfold due to the 3D technology. 3DS launch titles have proven that the handheld’s 3D feature can be implemented very well, but can also be incredibly difficult to use effectively. Games like Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, Nintendogs + Cats, and Street Fighter IV 3D show how the 3D can add fantastic depth and amazing effects to handheld gaming. Games like Super Monkey Ball 3D show how disrespecting the gods of 3D can lead to, well, really bad headaches.

As is the case with every other game to put monkeys in balls since 2001, your goal is to roll around a track collecting bananas without falling off the side into the endless void below. A time limit makes this task a tricky one, though the game’s 80 levels aren’t as difficult as fans of the other games might have come to expect from the series. New textures on the tracks and some other minor additions keep things somewhat fresh, but fans of Super Monkey Ball shouldn’t expect any earth-shattering changes in this edition. It’s by-the-books Monkey Ball action, take it or leave it.

Super Monkey Ball 3D

With the new iteration of monkey madness comes two new ways of controlling the game: the circle pad and the gyroscope. Those looking for a precise form of control that will make the levels enjoyable and balanced should use the circle pad, which allows for a fantastic level of control. If you’re more interested in falling off the side of the levels and getting a migraine, then, by all means, use the gyroscope. No one besides your frustration will stop you. Beyond simply not being as accurate as the circle pad, it also completely ruins the 3D effect by forcing you to tilt the system.

Then again, being forced to turn off the 3D isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Monkey Ball 3D doesn’t do well in 3D, no matter what form of control you use. There are times when it looks good, and the adorable cut-paper cutscenes use the effect fantastically, but the game itself is headache inducing if played for long periods of time with the 3D slider all the way up. While some neat tricks pop up (literally) from time to time, a majority of time is spent with the 3D struggling to add depth. It’s obviously not the 3DS’s fault — so many other launch titles do it right — so we’re going to need to blame Sega for this one. It’s not unplayable by any means, it’s just a better 2D experience than a 3D one. I suppose at least one launch title had to take the bullet and show everyone else how not to use 3D.

After completing the 80 included levels, there’s simply not all that much to do. The minigames that the series has become known for, such as Monkey Billiards, Monkey Golf, and the amazing Monkey Target, are completely MIA, replaced instead with Monkey Fight and Monkey Race. Monkey Fight is a poor man’s Super Smash Bros. that does little but tease the prospect of an actual Smash Bros. down the line. Monkey Race has the same effect, whetting the appétit for Nintendo’s inevitable Mario Kart, but it’s actually a bit of fun. While both modes come with single-cart multiplayer, Monkey Race was the only one I found myself going back to, even if it’s not all that balanced (or robust).

If there was ever a game that suffered from launch-game-itis, it’s Super Monkey Ball 3D. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it definitely feels like, with a few more months of work, it could have been a great one. Global leaderboards could have helped expand the single-player’s longevity a great deal, and including popular mini-games, even without getting the online multiplayer working, would have made it a must-buy. Without these features, though, it’s likely worth ignoring for anyone but the most die-hard of fans. Hopefully Sega will get the message, and release a more feature-complete iteration of the series in the coming years… with Monkey Target. Seriously, how the hell did they leave that out? UPC: 010086611007

3 out of 5


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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