The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Since Super Monkey Ball first arrived on the Gamecube a decade ago, the series’ iterations have clung to the third-person Marble Madness formula like an ape to the back of a Dole truck. The Wii version innovated slightly by letting gamers tilt the Wii remote to manipulate the game world and move their monkey ball, but that appears to be where the fresh, functional ideas halt.
Super Monkey Ball 3D apes the Wii version’s movement-based controls, allowing players to use the 3DS’ gyroscope to awkwardly steer their monkey ball. The mechanic would work well if you were viewing a full-sized TV, but keeping your eyes on the 3DS’ tiny screen is near impossible while twisting it in your hands. This control method makes the viewing angle so consistently awful that the 3D effect is out of the question. I tried out the motion control for one world, understood the gimmick, then switched to the circle pad. Even though the circle pad works better than the gyroscopic controls, I would have appreciated if the shoulder buttons could’ve controlled the camera to make turning easier. The circle pad works, but the jerky movement of the game makes playing on such a small screen slightly nauseating.
Speaking of nausea, Monkey Ball 3D’s three-dimensional effects probably won’t upset your stomach. That’s probably because they’re so unremarkable that you’ll turn them off immediately. Bananas occasionally fly at the screen, dirt is sometimes kicked into your face, and the monkey ball pops out from the game world. Super Monkey Ball 3D is a poor demonstration of the unit’s immersive 3D tech.
I lost count of how many times I yawned as I rolled through the least imaginative obstacle courses I’ve ever seen. If you’ve played a Super Monkey Ball game before, you’ve already played this one. If you’re interested in losing some friends, you can invite them into a local wireless race or monkey fight, a two-bit Super Smash Bros. knock-off. Super Monkey Ball 3D’s extra modes are so soulless and boring that only the most juvenile gamers would appreciate them, but those kids are too young to play the 3DS.
If you’ve been a devout Super Monkey Ball fan since the beginning you may be more willing to overlook this entry’s glaring faults. If you haven’t hopped on board the banana bandwagon, however, the weakly implemented 3D and unusable motion controls won’t be enough to make you a believer.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.