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Super Monkey Ball Published by: Sega Developed by: Amusement Vision ESRB Rating: E for Mild Violence Learning Curve: 1 maybe 2 minutes On: Gamecube

I had bought Minority Report, and said 'This game stinks!', so I took it back to EB Games. There I stood for half an hour, trying to decide what to trade the game in for, when I decided on Monkey Ball. What the hey. I'd heard it was fun. Now here I am, writing about this incredibly challenging port of niche Japanese arcade game, which actually is more suited to parties. Hmm. Anyways, I think that anyone who considers him/herself a 'gamer' or 'someone who plays games' or even a 'pastry chef'.okay, maybe not that.but just the same, anyone who enjoys a good challenge and likes to play games, plus owns a Gamecube, should purchase this incredibly challenging party game.

Graphics

Simplistic, but, overall, pretty good. The physics engine is spot on, so you will roll down slopes and drops realistically. Little animations like the monkeys' ears twitching just top off the extraordinary animation level in the game. Unfortunately, the balls come off as seeming a bit octagonal, while tracks aren't a curved as they might be. While the game falls short of making use of the Gamecube's power, what it does use is used to great effect, and the graphics do nothing to detract from the game.

Gameplay

This section is divided into three parts: Main Game, Party Games, and Mini Games.

Main Game

This is the meat of Super Monkey Ball. There are three difficulty levels: Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. While the Beginner difficulty only has 10 levels, Advanced has 30, and Expert has 50. Each level gets more and more difficult, until finally you come to the point where it seems that the game can't get any harder. This is usually around the 27th level of Advanced. The game gets much harder. By the time you reach the Expert difficulty, you should be able to handle the game, but nothing will prepare you for the number of times you are precariously perched on a ledge that is probably no bigger than a thread of hair. Fun and Frustrating. However, in addition to the single player Main Game, there is also the multiplayer Main Game. You can either choose Normal Mode or Competitive Mode. Normal is the usual, except you take turns tackling each course with other people. Competitive Mode,however, is split screen, and you try to get to the Goal before the other people to earn bananas. In Competitive Mode, you choose the courses.

Party Games

This mode is way different. There are three different games here: Monkey Fight, Monkey Race, and Monkey Target. Monkey Race is pretty self-explanatory; you steer your Monkey Ball around trying to beat other competitors on a race track. Unfortunately, all the tracks have large turns with almost no edges to keep you in the race. If you fall out, it\'ll be your own doing. Monkey Fight is also self-explanatory.well, kind of. Your Monkey Ball has a punching glove and the goal is to fight and knock other monkeys off the edge of, you guessed it, a precariously balanced platform. The monkeys seem to slide around a bunch more here, so it is a challenging chore to fight and keep your monkey on the course. But most times, the game got less frusterating, and all of the people playing with me had to continuously pause the game because we were all broken up with laughter. Monkey Target is, well, different. You start at the top of a large platform, and roll down a ramp, steadily gaining speed. After you launch off the ramp, you must tap A quickly. What happens is the Monkey\'s ball opens up and acts as a sort of glider, with which you must glide to a platform and try to land in the right place for points. Think of the platforms as dart boards,with point values associated to different circles, and you\'ll get the idea.

Mini Games

If that mode was different, this mode is, well different. There are three games here as well: Monkey Billiards, Monkey Bowling, and Monkey Golf. Monkey Billiards is a strange experience, mostly because your monkey is the cue ball. It follows the rules of nine-ball. Monkey Bowling is even weirder. You must line up a quickly moving targeting reticule to point the monkey at the pins, then you must decide how much power is needed, and whether or not you need spin. It ends up being a very strategic game, and a very challenging one at that. Monkey Golf is basically a mini golf course of 18 holes. Each hole is different, and, well, precariously perched. You must first aim at the hole, and then select the power you want to use to shoot at the hole, anywhere from blue(ten yards) to red(eighty yards) power. Besides the standard one to four player game of golf, there is also Match Play, which challenges you to get the monkey into the hole quicker than the other person. This is a two player mode.

Sound

The sound here, is, well, just plain bad. Aside from the stupid sounding coos of the monkeys, you get '70s sounding BeeGees style techno(kind of an oxymoron, since the BeeGees were disco), and arcade sounds that have been used since, well, Mario first appeared.

Control

Extremely simple. The control system was obviously designed with the arcade in mind, so that you didn't have to learn complicated controls. For most of the modes, all that you use is the Control Stick, although you sometimes use the A button in things like Monkey Fight. With the main game, however, all you use is the Control Stick to roll your Monkey Ball around. It really is a system that should be used for most arcade-style games or ports.

Appropriateness

Unlike in Super Monkey Ball 2, where there were some weird things like 'The secret spell is ai-ai-poo!', Super Monkey Ball was designed for a strict pick-up-and-play regimen. What I mean is that there is really no story, except if you watch the opening cut scene. All that shows is that the monkeys go on this balancing act to get bananas, but that is never incorporated into the gameplay. If you have any problems with monkeys fighting each other, and then knocking each other off ledges, this game is not for you. Other than that, which is the mild violence descriptor, Super Monkey Ball is a perfectly fine, fun filled family game that will keep kids and adults alike interested for hours. I recommend it for any and all who like a good game and a good challenge.

Final Ratings

Graphics B Gameplay A+ Sound C Control A+ Appropriateness A

Overall 88%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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