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Super Monkey Ball Adventure – GameCube

Super Monkey Ball Adventure – GameCube

SMB Adventure CoverPlatform: GameCube

Developer: Traveller’s Tales

Publisher: SEGA

Release Date (NA): August 1st, 2006

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Before Super Monkey Ball hit the shelves, the series started as an arcade game titled Monkey Ball. But its major American success came in the form of a 3 inch disc on Nintendo’s GameCube in November of 2001. I remember seeing this game at GameStop, and not knowing what it was, I was instantly attracted to it for one reason…it read “SEGA” at the bottom of the main cover. While Sega is the publisher of all Super Monkey Ball games, it was actually Amusement Vision (AV) who developed the first two games (and many of the later games) that put Super Monkey Ball on the map. For whatever reason, Traveller’s Tales* was given the keys to develop the next major installment in the series, Super Monkey Ball Adventure.

The concept behind any Super Monkey Ball game is that the player actually tilts the world itself which causes the ball (with Super Monkey inside of it) to roll. The player must traverse a series of obstacle-laden stages and reach the goal in an allotted timeframe without falling off the stage. If a player falls off or time expires, a life is lost. That is the general idea behind a Super Monkey Ball game. But not Super Monkey Ball Adventure. When I was at the register purchasing this game in 2009 (late to the party, yes), the cashier said “You do know this isn’t the Super Monkey Ball game you want, right?” I was taken aback! I said “I have all the others so it sure as hell is.” What is this game and why does everyone hate it so much?

SMB Adventure 3

Super Monkey Ball Adventure certainly has the look of a traditional Super Monkey Ball game, but is it really? SMB Adventure features the first true story mode in the series. “Guide AiAi, MeeMee, GonGon, and Baby on an epic quest across the five kingdoms of Monearth! Strange forces are afflicting each of the lands and you must discover what is at the heart of each unique problem. By spreading joy, defeating the Naysayers, and you uniting the feuding kingdoms you can allow true love to flourishand help the greatest wedding ever seen take place!”** Essentially, two love monkeys are forced apart by feuding royal families and it is up to you to bring joy and happiness to both kingdoms in an effort to reunite these two lovers. Then it is up to you to help get the wedding in going.

The story is sort of lame, in my opinion, but at least it makes some sense and isn’t entirely off the wall. Story aside, the game itself definitely falls far from the monkeyapple tree. Upon starting the game, I (playing as AiAi) find myself roaming around an island with very little knowledge as to what I should be doing, where I should be going, or how to even play the game. After rolling full speed into a monkey’s face and pancaking him into the ground thinking he was an enemy, I realized that he was only trying to have a conversation. That’s how I treat anyone who wants to talk to me. “NO you bum! I don’t have any change to give you! Get a job! PANCAKE!”

SMB Adventure 1

AiAi rolls around this monkey island and accepts tasks presented to him by its monkey inhabitants. One little “mission” I faced was to help a monkey gather up all of his bees so he could make honey. There was a series of challenging classic jump maneuvers I had to make to gather up the bees. When I returned all of his bees, he said, “Thanks. Where are my spectacles… hmm…” And that was that. I received nothing for my good deeds. No cash, no prize, no bananas, no lives, no information. Just nothing. But upon completing a couple of these tasks, an area that was previously blocked off was now open to me. Upon entering this new area, I am shown this sort of central hub where I can enter the puzzle world and play the more traditional Super Monkey Ball puzzles. When you beat the puzzles, a new part of the world will open up for you to explore… and perform tasks… and hate your life and such.

Where Super Monkey Ball Adventure Falls Short

Gameplay in SMB Adventure is decent and nowhere near as terrible as I’ve heard from other critics and fans. But one thing everyone can agree upon is that the camera system is a complete shitshow. The camera is not always behind the player, but on occasion it will follow behind him. But you never know when! And it never does it when you need it most! You can control the camera with the C-stick which makes it rotate around the player, but this becomes an excruciatingly painful chore and will make your knuckles turn white. The shoddy camera controls might be the worst part about the game, but it’s certainly not the only negative critique.

SMB Adventure 2

SMB Adventure struggles to really capture any balance between fun and adventure. Earlier I mentioned how areas are blocked off until X amount of errands are completed. These areas are fairly small, and most of them are loaded with layers and layers of platforms. The dreadful camera controls create a severe lack of player control, which leads to repetitiously falling off platforms, often into water. Granted, platforming games are supposed to have challenges that require precision platform maneuverability, but nothing is supposed to be this frustrating.

SMB Adventure also suffers from a lack of additional features, which is one area that Super Monkey Ball 2 excels. While this game does feature some traditional elements such as party games and a challenge mode, that’s really it. Traveller’s Tales was really banking on the success of the story mode and hoping players would be fully immersed into that. Unfortunately they missed the whole concept of the Super Monkey Ball series, which revolves around puzzles, getting friends together for party games, and excitement! It’s not supposed to revolve around monotonous boring assignments.

SMB logo

What Super Monkey Ball Adventure Did Right

Aside from the story mode blunder, Traveller’s Tales stayed very faithful to the series with their animation, sound effects, and music. I’m sure Sega assisted greatly in making sure these things stayed exactly the same, but man is it spot on. You wouldn’t even know that this game wasn’t developed by AV if it weren’t for the Traveller’s Tales introduction before the title screen.

The music and sound effects are of your standard Super Monkey Ball fare, which is to say they can be somewhat annoying at times but are entirely appropriate for a game like this. The graphics are phenomenal for a GameCube game and surprisingly stand the test of time very well. But when the story mode fails, and the graphics and music aren’t enough to bring you to buy this game, what does a man/woman do? I’ll tell you what. KILL YOURSELF! No, wait… Wrong answer. I mean, PLAY THE CHALLENGE MODE AND PARTY GAMES! Yeah. That’s what I meant.

SMB Adventure party games

The challenge mode in SMB Adventure is exactly what we were hoping for when we bought this game. It is broken up into three difficulties, beginner, advanced, and expert. The challenges are the floating platforms where you are tasked with getting from beginning to end in an allotted amount of time without falling off. “Sounds easy.” you say. “Not easy.” Says I. What makes a platform challenging is the layout of that platform. There are moving sections, steep inclines, narrow passages, holes in the ground, bumpers, and much more. Having a steady hand and plenty of patience are a necessity in any Super Monkey Ball game. Controlling the joystick with a soft thumb is the key to success, as even the slightest tilt on the stick will cause your monkey to roll.

The party games in the series are what take Super Monkey Ball from a fun single player game to a great multiplayer game as up to four people can play! Three games return here and those are Monkey Race, Monkey Fight, and my favorite, Monkey Target. There are three new games to play and those are Monkey Bounce, Monkey Cannon, and Monkey Tag. The three new party games are decent additions to the game but fail to make a major splash. Largely these party games are fun enough to entertain a group of gamers (casual and hardcore) for a decent amount of time!

SMB Adventure challenges

Overall, Super Monkey Ball Adventure is a fairly weak entry in the Super Monkey Ball series failing to meet the expectations set by its predecessors. With a pathetic story mode entrenched in appalling camera work, tedious missions, and repetitious gameplay, the only redeeming qualities are the party games and challenge mode. Even the challenge mode can be too challenging (heh, who woulda thought?) to WANT to handle, and many times I found myself with my finger on the power button ready to turn it off before I decided to give it yet another shot. Considering the anguish Super Monkey Ball Adventure went through by the fingertips of the gaming critics, one can find this game for relatively cheap. And if building up a GameCube collection is on your list, there are worse games you could have. It just might look better on your shelf than on your TV screen.

Nerd Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

*Famous for titles such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Puggsy, Toy Story, Mickey Mania, Sonic 3D Blast, and Sonic R.

**Excerpt from the Super Monkey Ball Adventure manual.

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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One Comment

  1. More than anything in this review, I’m surprised you were rung up at a shop by someone who knows the merits of multiple Super Monkey Ball titles.

     

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