I’m more of a Raspberry Ripple guy these days.
It would be a tough call if I had to name my favourite Gamecube launch title, but it would probably be between Criterion Games’ Burnout or Sega’s Super Monkey Ball. I wouldn’t have thought it at the time of purchase but the crazy land filled with little apes was amazing, addictive and pure fun. If we fast-track history a little, much success followed for the series but it lost its way a little bit, and we find ourselves here with the latest version on the Vita.
From the moment you start it up and get into it, it all feels vibrant and colourful, and looks extremely sharp on the Vita’s screen. It’s definitely a game of two halves with fun party games on the one side and the main puzzle/platform aspect on the other.
If you have never played before, the objective is very simple. After selecting your primate of choice, you then find yourself in a world and by either using the left stick or the internal gyroscope of the Vita (thankfully you do have the choice!) you have you guide your encapsulated monkey to the exit goal within the alloted time limit. As you progress you find the routes becoming more challenging with many different obstacles and moving platforms in your way.
This goes on for more than 100 levels and if you have the patience to work your way through then you must also have the reflexes of a ninja, some of these levels are very unforgiving! That pretty much is all there is to the single player, it does get increasingly more difficult and frustrating but that was always the way.
It’s all good fun for a while, but for many the series was all about the party mode and the fun that playing in numbers can provide and there are many games here that can fill that requirement. You have eight different types of games here that all involve using your monkey in different ways.
Monkey Target is of course present. You start by rolling your monkey down a hill and then are catapulted into the sky, upon which you “open” the ball and use these as a pair of wings and glide your ways onto the field below you in a bid to hit targets and build up a score. It gets quite competetive, and is certainly one of the better modes.
Monkey Bingo isn’t anything like Bingo really. There are 16 squares with dipped holes in it, and you gain points from securing the square. The more squares that you secure, and the proximity to others that you hold will ensure a greater reward. Once all squares are taken the round ends. It’s frantic and over in seconds, but quite enjoyable.
Monkey Bowling requires that you turn the Vita to the side and hold it vertically, whilst using the touch controls to launch the ball down the lane and tilting whilst the ball in in motion to aim to ensure that you hit the pins.
Monkey Rodeo has you atop a space-hopper style horse, and by using the rear touch you create a bump which launches your character across the field as you attempt to collect bananas. Whether you will enjoy this depends on how much you like using the rear touch I suppose, I didn’t particlarly.
Number Ball is also played with the Vita tilted sideways and has coloured numbered balls, akin to billiards or even bingo rolling around and using your finger you have to pop them in numerical order.
Staying with the Vita held in that position, Battle Billiards sees you placed in a castle style arena, and you ping your monkeys around attempting to knock your opponents down the holes placed around the arena.
Pixie Hunt uses the camera and once you have taken a snap shot from whatever takes your fancy from wherever you are playing, you then touch the screen once the fairies start appearing, and try to create as large a score as you can.
Love Maze can be experienced in the demo, and in this mode you have two balls joined and by using both of the sticks you have to navigate a maze whilst being hindered by how far you can move from the opposing ball.
All of these modes can be played on normal modes, or in more advanced arenas with more complicated things to deal with to increase the fun and the tempo, and it is great fun with others, although some of the social aspect is missing through not having people present. Some of the party games can be layed with pass and play style mechanics but its not quite the same.
Which kind of leads us to the conclusion here for this game, and back to the start of the review. It all feels very much like Monkey Ball here, andI did enjoy most of my time with it, but it does feel like it is missing something which I can’t quite put my finger on it. but it is still worth a look, just don’t buy it from the online store until the price goes down, it can be found much cheaper online.