Super Monkey Ball 3D

Super Monkey Ball 3D is a great example of what the 3DS can do for a game. The very concept of rolling a primate-stuffed, transparent ball around a tilting maze doesn’t make a great deal of sense but it certainly works a lot better in 3D. The added depth of perception makes tilting the level around and adjusting the angle and speed of your monkey sphere feel so much more intuitive. The idea of using the 3DS’s  motion sensor to physically tilt the console should add to this intuitiveness and in terms of the motion sensor itself, it works a treat. Movement feels 1:1 but since the parallax screen requires you to look straight on to it for a clear image it’s not a control method you can keep up for long and you’ll shift to using the circle pad pretty quickly, which also works a treat, in fact it might be the best Monkey Ball control system in the series’ 10 year history. The tracks are varied and they’re all new. Each world is based on a theme and with new obstacles like pinball bumpers and collectables in hard to reach places, traversing the mazes is pretty fun. The challenge level seems toned down a bit compared to past Monkey Ball titles; this could be a disappointment for some but tilt mechanisms in games always gave me rage so the lack of frustration is a plus point for me. Still it does make an already short game even shorter.

Super Monkey Ball titles are well known for coming with a plethora of minigames but this one only has two and they haven’t made up for quantity with quality. Monkey Race is a Mario-style kart racer. The tracks are pretty varied and offer plenty of challenge on their own and the variety of pick ups, the drifting and boosting around corners should all add a bit of depth and challenge to the racing but the controls just aren’t up to scratch. If the racer was one of many minigames we’d probably think it wasn’t so bad but with so little content each mode needs to be better than this. The other game, Monkey Fight, is a Smash Bros. type mode that fails to entertain for the same reasons. You have to have the most bananas at the end of the round against a few combatants. You can collect them from around the level and beat them out of your opponents. There seems to be plenty of scope within the mode for interesting battles but the controls let it down. Winning the round is far too random because you never feel like you’re particularly in control of your character.

When a new console launches it’s often the case that we look to the launch games to tell us how good the platform is rather than the other way around. In this case the 3DS does its very best to showcase Super Monkey Ball giving the game a new facet that once played, you will begin to feel it has always been missing. The whole concept of the game is greatly improved by being played in this popped out visible field but there just aren’t enough levels, enough minigames, enough Monkeys or enough balls.







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