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26 home / october 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Super Monkey Ball 2
Amusement Vision
Every bit as good as the first game, only with four times as much to do. The challenging single player mode will keep you busy for a while, and the multiplayer aspects will keep you and everyone you know busy for years.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Super Monkey Ball 2
By Patrick King

The person who thought of trapping a little primate in a sphere and rolling it around collecting bananas is brilliant. The monkeys are back, and this time with a "story" to get you even more addicted to the Monkey Ball universe. This sequel is commendable in so many ways it's actually kinda scary. The graphics are prettier, there are 150 stages (thrice that of the previous game), there's a pile of new multiplayer games (in addition to ALL of the original ones), and it was all developed and released in under a year.

The monkeys need your help! Dr. Badboon, in a fit of jealous rage over Meemee and Aiai, has stolen all of the bananas from the monkeys' island, and it's your job to guide them through his treacherous mazes to get to the mad scientist and recover the yellow treasures. But then, you're not playing this game for the plot. Cute as it may be, the core of this title is its incredibly fun gameplay.

The controls are typical for a SEGA game - intuitive and simple. The only true monkey-related control in the main game is the control stick. It's used to tilt the stage so that your monkey will roll in one direction or another. Minigames may call for the use of other buttons, but the game notifies players of the controls when needed and they're not too complex, in any case. That's not to say that the game is simple - far from it. This game is even more challenging than the original, and some stages will have you tearing your hair out each time your on-screen avatar plunges to his or her monkey-death. Luckily, in order to compensate for some terribly frustrating stages, the game's designers removed the life counter from the game. Now, you can attempt any stage in any of the fifteen worlds as many times as you want without penalty. In a game where failure comes quickly, this is a nice change.

One addition to the gameplay is the use of switches to control various parts of a level. Rolling over a panel may cause the elements of a stage to move faster, slower, or come to a complete halt. Frequently, you'll land on a panel increasing the speed at the start of the stage, forcing you to either go through the tougher obstacles in their sped-up state or backtrack a bit to find the panel that will return things to normal speed. It's an interesting way to vary each stage, and save for a stage (you'll know it when you see it) composed ENTIRELY of rows upon rows of switches - and only one leads to the goal - it makes things more interesting. For the switch-field makes you hate life. Or at least the game. However, these brief moments of intense hatred don't last long, and for the most part, the game is not evil. Just a few stages...

The multitude of party games is great, but not all are immediately playable. To unlock them, you'll have to make your way through the story mode, garnering points as you play. Even after all of the minigames are released, there's more to do with play points earned. Monkey Ball 2 will keep you coming back for more... And more...

Many people are turned off by the game's visuals, for some reason. I'll admit that it doesn't look nearly as realistic as Eternal Darkness, but then this is a game about sphere-bound primates rolling around a maze looking for bananas, not humans set in the real world. The frame rate never drops below 60 frames per second, the game is compatible with HDTVs, and it looks exactly how it should look. The backgrounds are more impressive than its predecessor, and textures are slightly more detailed, but the graphics play second fiddle to the game. Honestly, after playing years of first-generation 3D games with slow framerates, low resolution, and murky texture maps, I can't complain. I stopped worrying about the graphics since I first played Soul Caliber on the Dreamcast, and this game is even sharper than the classic fighter (again, if not as realistic).

I'm a big fan of video game music and techno, so the game's soundtrack is one I want to add to my library. It's upbeat and varies for each stage, adding to the tension present throughout the game. The sound effects are incredibly cute, including the "eep" sounds emitted by the monkeys. The voice acting is hilarious, making the story mode worth listening to.

Just like the original, Super Monkey Ball 2 is jam-packed with stuff to do and presents a charmingly bizarre gameplay experience. This is a great game to share with friends, whether they appreciate bowling, tennis, baseball, soccer, golf, billiards, or more extreme sports...such as monkey racing, monkey fighting, or a battle involving monkeys flying around shooting at each other or landing on targets. There's even a shooting minigame akin to rail-shooter classics such as Star Fox. Some of the minigames are more fun than others, but there is doubtless something here for anyone. Monkey Ball 2 improves upon the original in every conceivable way, and the first was easily the best launch title the GameCube had in its repertoire. There is no good excuse keeping you from getting this game, so it'd be in you and your friends' best interest to purchase this as soon as possible. You'll end up sleep deprived from all the fun, but it's worth it. This is a fantastic game, in all respects, and easily one of the best available this year. That is, at least until Metroid Prime is released...

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