|Release: March 27 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Cartoon Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
If there's one thing to be said about the Monkey Ball series, it is that you know what to expect every time you pick up a new iteration. The gameplay is always the same, and even if there's a singular new feature to check out (like using the touch screen in Touch & Roll, or using the Balance Board in Step and Roll), the core experience is almost always the same. Super Monkey Ball is a franchise that has evolved at a glacial pace, and if you don't mind getting more of the same every time you play, then you'll probably get some enjoyment out of the content offered in Super Monkey Ball 3D. However, if you expect more from your sequels, or enjoy games that have more content than you can conquer in an afternoon, then you will likely be disappointed.
There are three main modes in Super Monkey Ball 3D: the core "challenge" mode, a kart racing mode, and a fighting mode. The core mode is predictably the most entertaining; you roll one of four monkey ball avatars through a series of increasingly challenging maze-based levels. The mazes get pretty tough near the end, and the game has a nicely balanced difficulty curve that helps you feel like you are progressing evenly without stagnating or particularly frustrating new elements. The new levels are certainly the best part of Super Monkey Ball 3D, and if all you require is some fun new Monkey Ball levels, prepare to be impressed.
In addition to the new levels, there is also a new control method that uses the 3DS' gyroscope. If there was a game that was made for tilt controls, it is Monkey Ball, but the decision to put this mode on the 3DS version of the game is curious, as moving around the system obscures the 3D visuals. If you have the 3D disabled, you won't have much a problem with the motion controls. However, considering this is a 3DS launch title, most people will want to experience the 3D visuals first, and it is impossible to do that when you are using the motion controls.
However, the main mode is the only mode that uses the motion controls, as the other two modes are essentially big mini-games. The first of these is a basic kart racer that has you racing against the AI, using monkey-themed weapon items, and unlocking new cars and characters. This mode is a fun diversion, but is ultimately a little too derivative to be any fun for longer than twenty minutes. If you've played any iteration of Mario Kart, this mode will feel a little too familiar to be interesting for very long. And while the main mode is challenging enough, this mini-game mode is extremely easy, and the getting first place over and over gets old fast.
The same goes for the other mode, which is a brawl-type beat-em-up where your objective is to literally beat the bananas out of your opponents. There are several platforms you can jump on, and each monkey has its own super-power you can use after unlocking it with a special falling item, but at the end of the day, this mode is also a little too derivative to be any fun. It plays like a stripped-down, monkey-fied version of Super Smash Bros., just without all the awesome characters and deep battle system. Just collect bananas, spam the attack button, and win. There's literally nothing to it.