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Super Monkey Ball Adventure

More fun than a barrel full of monkeys, or a load of balls?

It's a universally accepted law of comedy that monkeys are funny. Through the PG
Tips adverts and beyond, we've always laughed at our simian cousins, mocking their intellectual inferiority and lack of sophistication, not to mention their big red arses and relentless masturbation.

Essentially hairier, less capable versions of ourselves, monkeys would appear to be fair game. So much so that Sega thought it'd be funny to render them even less capable by encasing them in large plastic balls. This led to the moderately successful Super Monkey Ball series, essentially puzzle games in which the enclosed chimp was manoeuvred around mazes and minigames in a thinly-veiled ape-based version of hoary old classic Marble Madness.

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This basic concept has now been expanded into a fully-fledged adventure, replete with an entirely unnecessary backstory. For those who care about such things, it's a (very) loose take on Romeo and Juliet, with your chosen ape also charged with the task of bringing the joy back to five monkey kingdoms. Something like that anyway - to be honest, we stopped listening after the line, "we will never find true joy while we ignore the sadness of strangers." Keep it light...

CHIMP CHORES
This remarkable feat of diplomacy is achieved by performing tasks at your leisure for the various denizens of each kingdom, and in this sense the game works more like a role-playing game than the alleged action-adventure, as you're literally running errands like a chimp. As for these tasks/quests, they're generally a little more involved than nipping down the shop for a loaf of bread.

For example, early doors you're given the job of returning several nests of bees back to their hives, something that involves bouncing around on a series of flowers in traditional platformer fashion. Traditional, that is, apart from the glaring fact that you're trapped inside a sodding plastic ball, with all the inherent difficulties that such a handicap inevitably entails. Inertia, momentum and all that bad science stuff comes into play as your hapless gibbon bounces around aimlessly, barely responding to your frantic joypad grappling. And this is one of the easier tasks.

MONKEY PUZZLE TREE
Nearby is a monkey guard who wants you to wake four other lazy guards who have fallen asleep on the job, their job being to keep a lookout from a rudimentary treehouse. Waking them involves using a cannon to launch yourself into a series of giant gongs, something that has to be repeated for each guard. One slight miscalculation in trajectory and you're in the sea, forced to start the task from scratch, including going through the motions of talking to the main guard again - although mercifully the text can be clicked through.

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Annoying as this repetition can be, it's made immeasurably worse by the impossibly upbeat voice of the 'narrator,' who gleefully shouts the word "FALLOUT" as you plunge into the ocean for the umpteenth time. What does that even mean? In terms of the game it means you want to find the person responsible, tear his tongue from his throat and feed it to the monkeys as some sort of punishment. But that's simply indicative of the nature of the game, which is relentlessly chirpy in every aspect, from graphics to the music to the inane ape-speak that passes for conversation.

What's worse is that while everyone seems to be living in happy-happy-joy-land, you're having a genuinely miserable time, spitting out swear words as your plastic-sheathed monkey again plummets groundwards due to a minor moment of cack-handedness.

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