Super Monkey Ball Adventure PSP Review

Super Monkey Ball Adventure is the latest in what is now a long line of SMB games and is the series’ first attempt at something new. So far the series has gone through three well received puzzle titles, each with their own set of mini-games, each title expanding on what its predecessor gave us. Now it is time for the monkeys to break out and experience the joys of 3D platforming. With SMBA being the first title in the series to hit the market for PSP owners, you would expect Sega to try and entice this new audience with the best they could offer, but sadly their debut is not everything it could have been.

As previously stated, the big change between this title and previous games in the series is that the game main mode is now an adventure/platformer. For me (and I guess many others) the fun of the SMB series is all about trying to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, but within a few minutes of play I found that this style of gameplay did not match up very well with the platform game that Traveller’s Tales has laid out. It has to be said that moving around areas is no fun whatsoever. In fact at times it can be very irritating as a platform game needs good controls, but this is something a monkey in a ball lacks. Once you get to the end of an area you will be able to partake in more familiar SMB exploits which are fun once you get used to the PSP’s ‘nub’. To mix things up a bit you are able to gain new abilities for your ball, including the ability to punch, fly, bounce, stick to things, and a few more. These must be unlocked and a special monkey chant has to be done in order to activate them (note: the chant is very, very, very annoying!!)

If the adventuring gets boring (trust me it can happen very easily) there are also some classic Super Monkey Ball elements to play about with. First are the mini games including the original Monkey Race, Target and Fight. There are also some new games which have you destroying a castle, popping a balloon, and bouncing on a grid, but none of these are nearly as entertaining as the originals. Additions of fifty puzzle trays are included. This is where I spent most of my time with the game. In fact after the first 10 trays I was wishing they forgot the adventure mode altogether and just stuck with the original formula.

For a PSP title Super Monkey Ball Adventure looks impressive. All of the five areas availed are nicely detailed with a vibrant colour palette that serves as a treat to the eyes. The five adventure areas are also very varied so each time you advance there’s always something new to see and do. Due to the high level of graphics the game does have some serious loading issues which do their best to ruin anything good the game has going for it. The initial load (from turning on the PSP to getting do the menu) took over a minute on my PSP with much of that leaving you staring at a black screen. Other loads are shorter yet still seem very long if you are trying to get a quick game in before going to work while riding on a bus/train. There are also more loads when moving between different areas. These are hidden loads like shooting the doors in the Metroid Prime games, but have you rolling in something that resembles a hamster wheel. These loads also seem to last a very long time leaving you rolling for a excessive amount of time

The sound is also at the high end of the spectrum for a PSP title. The background music for each of the levels suits its soundings very well without ever feeling overpowering or annoying. There are also loads of nice little touches to be heard in the game. One particularly cute instance of this is when you roll the ball near the edge of a ledge and you can hear it let out a small whimper as it fears for its life. Of course as always the monkey speak in the sickly cute “Magical Spell is Ai-Ai-Poo!” kinda way which is something you will either love or hate. Without doubt the visuals and sound are the game’s strong points. It’s a pity that the main selling point – the adventure mode – is nothing more than average edition to the SMB franchise.

What seems like a good idea on a paper and what Sega probably thought would be a nice breath of fresh air for the SMB series was a failed attempt. Instead of giving fans a break from the usual monkey exploits, Adventure will no doubt leave fans wanting more of what they once had. The only real fun to be had in SMBA is with the mini-games and puzzle trays, but is that small section of the game worth the asking price?

Half entertaining and half infuriating. We would advise waiting for a price drop.

6.9 out of 10

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