Prepare yourself for some eye-destroying monkey madness.
What is there to hate about Monkey Ball? SEGA’s ball-rolling monkeys star in one of the most flexible and easy-to-play franchises in existence. You just can’t have too much Monkey Ball. Which is appalling since Super Monkey Ball 3D seems to have far too less.
In terms of design, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Super Monkey Ball 3D. The basic concept of the series is still the same, and is as solid as ever. Players still have to help their little monkey friends to the goal. Obstacles are still there to try to get in your way. Bottomless pits are still there to punish your small missteps. AiAi’s voice is still annoying.
No, no. Monkey Ball is still the same as it always was, and in some aspects, is even better. The 3DS’ circle pad was made for this game, as it allows for accuracy the otherwise would not have been possible with a joystick. The gyro controls, for what they are, work well if you’re into that kind of thing. The camera is solid. The physics are as solid as its always been. It’s still the same Monkey Ball as you know it. With the basics of Monkey Ball down and running (and possibly better than ever before), it would seem that Super Monkey Ball was set to succeed.
The game was not set to succeed.
Nope. The problem with Super Monkey Ball 3D has nothing to do with it’s basic design. But it does have to do with just about everything else.
Let’s start off with the main game, shall we? Super Monkey Ball 3D includes a story mode filled with 80 different levels. Sounds like a lot? Not really. Every level is designed to be finished in under a minute; some levels take less than 15 seconds to complete. Sure, you can test yourself by trying to get the fastest times on each and every single course, but who wants to do that? The levels aren’t even that interesting to begin with. With such a short campaign, you’d expect the game’s other modes to be more fleshed out to cover up the lack of levels. But oh are you so dearly wrong.
Instead of the usual plethora of small minigames other Monkey Ball games get, SEGA decided to opt for just two minigames, though these minigames were designed to be a lot deeper than previous iterations. Unfortunately, these minigames are more frustrating than they are actually fun. Monkey Race is a Monkey Ball version of Mario Kart, except it does everything that Mario Kart doesn’t do. And that’s not really a good thing. Strangely designed courses, an awkward drifting system, and wacky physics makes this racing fun until frustration takes over. Monkey Fight is a Monkey Ball version of Smash Bros, but ends up being an uncontrollable button-mashing mess. Nothing about Monkey Fight is appealing at all, even when you have friends over to play it with you. It’s a shame; SEGA had the right idea with these “deeper” minigames, but the result was none other than just awful.
But the one thing that does stand out in this game (literally) is the 3D. And that’s not a good thing. SEGA obviously had no idea what they were doing when they went ahead and smothered 3D all over this game. The 3D in this game is so strong, that pieces of the level tend to pop up out of the screen while the rest of it seems stuck inside it, effectively making most of the scenery look broken. Don’t fret, though. This problem can be solved by only moving the 3D slider up halfway. But either way, the 3D in this game was implemented terribly, and the devs didn’t even bother to fix it up.
What does all of this mean? Well, the game is definitely not bad. It’s not broken; it’s completely playable. The main game is very solid, and the circle pad complements the game quite well. But Super Monkey Ball 3D isn’t as bad as it is limited. Both Monkey Race and Monkey Fight aren’t very well done at all, and the main game will probably take less than three hours to beat. That’s not to say this game isn’t challenging though; some levels are legitimately tough. But even this nice challenge isn’t good enough to cover all of the flaws Super Monkey Ball 3D has. That being said, behind all the negatives lie a solid game that may or may not be worth your $40. It’s definitely not a bad game, so if you wait for a price drop, you’ll probably good to go. Otherwise unless you’re a hardcore Monkey Ball fan, this may not be the most affordable starting point for the series. Again, the game is good, but not that good. You can do better than this, SEGA.