Monkey Ball was previously a hidden gem on the GameCube that, come on, most of you will not have played. After all GameCube sales have hardly been setting the New Zealand gaming charts on fire. It was always a shame that such a title was hidden away in the darkened corners of your local video game store called the GameCube section, so Sega have finally decided to bite the bullet and release the game to a wider audience on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
For those of you who are unaware, Monkey Ball is a wonderful little puzzle game that basically involves rolling around a series of more bizarre courses in a ball. Oh, did I mention that you play a monkey who rolls around a series of bizarre courses in a ball? No? Well you do. Yes, the game sounds absolutely insane (and in all honesty it is) but it is an absolute riot to play. Think Marble Madness meets Ape Escape.
Monkey Ball Deluxe is a massive collection of both the Monkey Ball title’s stages as well as 46 exclusive stages just for this title. If you have both GameCube versions, you might want to think long and hard before handing over your hard earned pennies for what is essentially the same game. However, if you are the kind of video game fan who hadn’t even heard of Monkey Ball before reading this review, you might want to keep on reading as this is one of the most original games you will ever play.
As I mentioned earlier, you play a monkey, a monkey in a big plastic ball. Controls are kept simple, all you have control over is angle of the stage itself. You can’t jump, you can’t shoot anything and you can’t even eat any of those delicious bananas. You have to navigate your monkey ball around each course by tilting the level in the direction you want to roll. Of course, it all gets fiendishly difficult later on in the game but you will keep on coming back to each course until you have finally cracked it. If you have the patience the game becomes terribly addictive. If you don’t, you may well be hurling your controller across the room in frustration.
The game even has some pretence of a story line. Dr Bad-Boon – yes, that is actually his name - is doing something evil and our monkey friends have to roll around mad courses in order to save the day. Shakespeare it isn’t. However, the single player game will keep you going, even if the story line is absolutely insane.
Graphics in the game are not exactly impressive; this is based on a game that is almost four years old remember. Colours are garish and a tad too bright. However, the monkeys are all full of charm and thankfully they refrain from scratching their arses during the game.
Sound is okay. The music isn’t offensive but it is quite forgettable. Sound effects are also a little annoying, although there is always the mute button to sort that one out for you.
To round everything off, the game features a plethora of mini-games like monkey-pool, monkey-soccer, monkey-golf and a whole lot more. The mini-games will make the game last that much longer and monkey-target in particular, is fantastic. Monkey-target has you launching your favourite monkey down a ramp, you then have to guide your monkey towards a target using a parachute-esque device. Insane? Totally, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.
Monkey Ball is one of those games that you just have to play. The infantile story and goofy premise might turn away a few, but if you like good old-fashioned fun then you owe it to yourself to try this out. Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuunkey!!!!!!!