Super Monkey Ball 2 GameCube Review

Share the monkey dream, join the monkey party as Aiai and the gang are back. Yes the champion of the masses, the primate of the people is once again back exclusively on Nintendo GameCube in Super Monkey Ball 2. So take to the streets, march to your local store, shout “Super Monkey Ball 2 Forever!” and demand your copy now.

Super Monkey Ball was a surprising hit on the GameCube last year. Launching on the same day as the GameCube in Europe many people bought it as a launch title and they were not disappointed. The game offers something for everyone and the gameplay although simple, is very addictive. So how could Super Monkey Ball 2 improve on the original?

Graphics

Super Monkey Ball 2 is difficult to rate from a graphic standpoint because it’s not a game that’s designed to be a visual stunner and is relished for its gameplay, however the overall level design is more inspired and more extravagant than in the first title. There are several things that Amusement Vision has done right with the new title from its predecessor. SMB2, like the original, takes players through several differently themed worlds, from greenery locales to water-filled levels, space spots and fiery mazes, all complimented with Sega’s almost trademark crisp texture work, stylized and detailed. The fluidity is always at a rock solid 60 frames per second, which is great. But on top of that, the levels in SMB2 are filled with much more going on in the background, far more geometry, and it’s often animated. The presentation of the monkeys themselves is still appealing. When they successfully navigate a landscape, for instance, players are rewarded visually with all sorts of animations, from dances to rolls and more. The game is very colourful and bright, projecting its arcade-like feel and style.

Gameplay

Super Monkey Ball 2, like its predecessor, enjoys simple but effective gameplay, which is to roll monkeys encased in glass balls through large, maze-like, and wholly interactive levels. AiAi, MeeMee, Baby, and GonGon are all back to ensure Sega’s Super Monkey Ball 2 returns with a roar. This latest version brings a new story mode, six new party games, the multi-player games from the original Super Monkey Ball, and 150 new Main Game stages. In the story mode, you fight as AiAi to stop the evil plans of Dr. BAD-BOON and his mysterious sidekick, “Dr. BAD-BOON’s Assistant.” While the Story Mode shines by offering challenge after challenge, it’s the multi-player party games that let several have fun. Here, one to four can compete, cooperate and collide in twelve different “party” activities. The six new party games include: Monkey Tennis, Monkey Baseball, Monkey Soccer, Monkey Boat Race, Monkey Shot, and Monkey Dog Fight. The original party games: Monkey Race, Monkey Bowling, Monkey Billiards, Monkey Target, Monkey Golf and Monkey Fight make it through to the second game also. These original party games have all been slightly enhanced. For example in Monkey Bowling the characters are really different, with Baby being tuned for beginners. There’s also the special version that features lane warps. Monkey Golf has been turned into a sim and Monkey Target now allows all players to have their go at once. Monkey Race and Monkey Fight both include new battlegrounds. In my experience the six additional games aren’t as well conceived as the original six, but there are standouts. Monkey Tennis, for instance, is incredibly enjoyable.

The control functions have remained totally unchanged from the original game. The GameCube’s analogue stick steers the monkeys, and that’s all there is to it! The trick is making sure the characters don’t fall off the platform ledges, or that each stage’s countdown timer doesn’t run out before gamers can successfully make it through a goal located on each level. While the control mechanisms are certainly simple, the challenges themselves aren’t always as quickly passed. There is a noticeably more difficult learning curve compared to the first game. While the first batch of stages were easily beaten, particularly for players accustomed to the controls of the previous installment, the hard areas surface quicker than they did in the original game. There are more difficult courses, more looping, spinning, corkscrewing areas to navigate, and there are likewise levels that move up and down, left and right, and spin things around the gamers.

Sound

As with many puzzle games, Super Monkey Ball 2’s audio experience is repetitive and quirky. Stages and menus are all consistence in their use of music and sound effects, a good and bad thing. Although it’s a good thing that Amusement Vision has been diligent in their audio design, it’s slightly annoying that it has to be so repetitive. Different worlds in story mode feature new music tracks, but each of the stages within the world use the same track. Should you mute your television during gameplay you’re likely not to miss out on anything. Monkey yips and screams have been carried over from the original, as has the overly enthusiastic announcer.

Lifespan

Super Monkey Ball 2 is just as simple as the original, and also just as addictive. The title is a playable example that games don’t need to knock your socks off visually to be enormously fun. With inspired, intuitive controls and 150 challenging new levels that are more difficult, sometimes however frustratingly so, the single-player mode alone is worth the purchase. But where it’s an entertaining single-player experience, it’s a superb multiplayer one. All the revamped mini-games are fantastic. Then there are the new party games, a mixed bag; Tennis is excellent while some of the others, like Boat Race seem rushed and static. All in all, this is one of the best multiplayer games for the GameCube and rivals games like Mario Party 4.

Overall

So how has Super Monkey Ball 2 improved on the original game? Well, after analysis, it has been improved in some places, however it has taken backward steps with the story mode. It’s bigger, slightly better and packed with more options. I cannot think of another game to compare this to. If you are looking to play with some friends or get your teeth into a single player quest that will keep you going for ages Super Monkey Ball 2 could be for you.

8 out of 10
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