In my brief time (thus far) with Nintendo’s 3DS I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some types of games which are going to be very well suited for 3D, while others just won’t cut it. Oddly enough, Super Monkey Ball 3DS fits into both categories as it demonstrates the 3D effect very well during some sections of the game, and when it does it poorly it excels at that too. The glaring issue with the 3DS really makes itself known here, that issue being the limited viewing angle, as one of the game modes allows you to use the build in motion sensors to control the monkey in the ball.
Three different game modes are included in this version of Monkey Ball. The challenge mode is the one most familiar to the series, as you roll your monkey through, around and over obstacles to collect bananas and reach a goal marker in each level. As you progress, the levels get incrementally more difficult with bumpers and ramps that will test your finesse with the all new thumbstick – but nothing really hair-pullingly hard. Controlling the game is a breeze when you opt to use the new analog thumbstick on the 3DS, but in this mode I found some of the 3D effects to be a little jarring, especially the trees that would fly through the foreground – the backround effect was quite impressive, the sense of depth actually working out well. The other option — which will not work with the 3D option turned on — is the motion based controls. These two actually are fairly responsive and keep the mode enjoyable, which says to me the motion controls in the 3DS might become either used well in some games, but also shoehorned in for others. As you may have guessed already, the 3D effect here won’t work because you’ll be making a lot of fairly quick adjustments to the system to control your monkey, so the limited viewing angle is a huge issue.
The other modes included in the game both borrow very heavily, or dare I say directly lift, from some classic Nintendo franchises. First up is the Race mode, which is a copy of the Mario Kart series. Race around tracks, collecting powerups while hitting the speed boosts on the track and try to come in first place. Nothing really groundbreaking here, except that the 3D effect is put to good use as the sense of depth on the tracks is nicely implemented. The other mode is a clone of Super Smash Brothers, but without the roster of characters people care about or the sense of controlled chaos. I’ll admit to not really caring for the SSB-type game due to the chaotic nature of it, but Monkey Fight was even less organized than other clones of this game style.
It’s tough to recommend this game to newcomers to the Monkey Ball world based on the two rough game modes, and the otherwise decent Challenge mode likely isn’t long enough to justify the high price tag of 3DS titles. The use of 3D is novel, but completely unnecessary – as we’ve all played these games at home since the Gamecube launch.
Platform reviewed: Nintendo 3DS