Review: Super Monkey Ball 2
Posted 01 Apr 2003 at 04:26 by Franklin
Monkeys, no not just your every day monkeys, Super Monkeys, in balls, rolling around large puzzle platforms suspended in mid air. Not too long ago we would have thought that to be some sort of strange wacky joke, but when Super Monkey Ball hit the GameCube it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable games available. And now at last Europe gets the sequel, but for all those who own the first is this one worth getting? Well that's what we're here to find out…
Like the original game the graphics are all very colourful and vibrant. But the thing that'll hit fans of the original most with the graphics the high detailed three dimensional backgrounds. The courses are set within huge detailed worlds such as a lively forest with a massive flowing waterfall or a red hot volcano with loads of burning magma or even a outdoor washing machine overflowing with bubbles in the middle of a giant backyard (No you didn't imagine that). Some of the worlds are just so wacky you'll be thinking just how did you get there but you'll still be left in awe as the dazzling eye candy on display, just try not to enjoy it too much or you could find yourself falling off the floors because you weren't paying full attention to the gameplay. The characters are nicely modelled (well for monkeys in balls anyway) but you don't get to see them properly until you complete a world and get a cut-scene. And while watching the cut-scene you'll no doubt think to yourself with a small smile how cute (almost disturbingly cute) the primates look and how only the imagination of a Japanese mind could have thought of this.
The music is average at best but very catchy, but in a bad way like when you get a bad song stuck in your head and just can't get rid of. And should you get to a level that you end up having to play over and over again because you just can't get to the goal listening the same annoyingly catchy can (and just might) give one a good unwanted headache. The voices aren't anything special just grunts and squeaks that although might give you a bit of a giggle in the cut-scenes. In terms of sound this is most defiantly one game for you make sure you have a cd player in the same room as your Cube with all your fav songs/albums, not just for one player but multiplayer too.
Let us start with the "Main Game" shall we. There are three different types of play in "Main Game", Story, Challenge and Practice.
Story: This is the main one player game, the story is simple the evil "Dr. Bad-Boon" shows up and steels all the bananas on the island and it's up to Aiai and friends to track him down and get back the bananas. The "story" however you can almost ignore, you won't lose much in the gameplay if you don't pay attention to the story, it seems to be just used as a means to explain way you're in the certain worlds (backgrounds) that in. That said though it can be fun to watch just for the hilariously ridiculous song and dance Aiai and co do at he end of each one, topping it off with one of the worst catchphrases I've even heard "Magical Spell is Ei-Ei-Poo". Ok enough about that, this is the gameplay section, and despite the story lacking any real interest SMB2 is full of gameplay. The basics of roll ball into the goal may sound simple and it is on early stages but once you reach world three you'll start to get stages that'll take loads of tries to reach that goal. This can of course cause a lot of frustration and hearing the words "Ready…Go" over and over will make you want to rip your hair out with your hands but when you finally get to goal you feel so good at your achievement (at least until you get to the next hard stage that is), that is truly satisfying. There are no game overs in this mode either so you don't have to worry much when you do fall off the floor.
Challenge Mode: This mode can be played with up to four players (alternating) and is a lot faster paced than "Story", no cut scenes to slow things down means as soon as you reach a goal you're thrown right into the next stage. This means more fun more fun and more fun 'nuff said! This mode however does come with game overs so you'll need to be that extra bit careful to make sure you don't lose your lives.
Practice: In this mode you'll be able to select any stage you have played on in Story or Challenge to practice on it. So if you have some favourite stages that you want to play again this is the place for easy access to them.
And now we move onto the best part of SMB2 the multiplayer "Party Games".
When you first start the game there are only 6 games available which are updates of the six Party Games featured in the first SMB game. Monkey Race 2, Monkey Fight 2, Monkey Target 2, Monkey Billiards 2, Monkey Bowling 2 and Monkey Golf 2. And all of them are wonderful, my personal favourite would be Monkey Billiards 2, probably because I'm a big 9-ball pool fan and me and my cousins just have one hell of a time playing till the late hours of the morning without knowing it.
Joining these are six new games but they have to be unlocked, this is done by earning "Play Points" in the one player modes and it will take a lot of play time to earn enough to unlock them all. The new games are Monkey Boat, Monkey Shot, Monkey Dogfight, Monkey Soccer, Monkey Baseball and Monkey Tennis. However I only found two of them (Dogfight and Tennis) to be any good with Tennis being the better. Boat felt very awkward to control since you use the L and R buttons to paddle but to turn left you use the R button and vice versa which just leaves you confused almost. Shot is like an on the rails FPS but just seems lacking somewhat. Soccer although a great idea (Monkeys in balls kicking a ball sounds awesome don't it) but it just doesn't play very well, the pitch is too small and you'll be bumping into other players more than anything. And Baseball, well that was just boring to be honest.
But despite those four games once you get even one other person with you don't be surprised to look at you watch and find hours have passed by without you noticing.
This game is so easy to play, in Main Game the only thing on the controller you really need is the control stick simple as that. The other buttons aren't needed at all, brilliant. Of course that all changes in the different Party Games with each game coming with a whole new set of controls but they aren't that hard to learn and you'll pick it up in no time. This is also why you don't see a table with the controls saying what all the buttons do here, otherwise I'll have to do one for each game almost and I'm sure you don't need to see it that much do you. Plain and simple it's a very easy pick up and play game.
With well over 150 stages in Main Game, different difficulty settings in the challenge mode SMB2 has enough to keep one player busy for absolutely ages. Add to that the multiplayer games gather a few friends round, get a big bowl of pop corn in the middle of the room and a supply of drinks and you won't be leaving the room except for toilet breaks. This game will have you coming back time and time again for that "just one more go" feeling.
The sound and story are nothing special but the gameplay is top notch in both one player and party games. If you enjoyed SMB you will love SMB2 even more, for those of you who already have the first and aren't quite sure weather or not to get this one, my advice is to trade in SMB and upgrade to SMB2.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Lost a lot of marks due to poor sound unfortunately but when it comes to fun gameplay you will find it here.
Challenging Main Game
4 of the new Party Games