Super Monkey Ball 3D Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Apr 04, 2011

Another Nintendo system, another Monkey Ball! This time, Sega may have jumped the gun to get the game out in time. The main maze game is packed, but much simpler than usual, and with only two poor mini-games, there's nothing else to do.

The Pros
  • Core Monkey Ball gameplay is still fun
  • 80 levels
  • Nice 3D visuals
The Cons
  • Only two mini-games
  • Both mini-games are lousy
  • Core Monkey Ball gameplay can get old

Super Monkey Ball 3D Review:

It wouldn’t be a Nintendo system launch without a new Super Monkey Ball game, and the 3DS is no exception. Super Monkey Ball 3D is exactly what the title suggests, so fans of monkeys in balls will know just what to expect here. Given the slim pickings for the 3DS, this isn’t the worst choice for your launch title library, but it’s clear that Sega cut a few corners to get the game out with the system.

3D Monkeys. . .Whoa

The Monkey Ball games have evolved only slightly over the years to include more and more focus on mini-games, while keeping the main portion squarely about physics-based obstacle courses. On the 3DS, the usual and expected array of mini-games is almost nonexistent. There’s only Monkey Race, a mediocre cart racer, and Monkey Fight, a low-rent Smash Bros rip off.

Thankfully, if you’re here for the main attraction, Super Monkey Ball 3D does at least deliver the same enjoyable, tilt-based gameplay that the series is known for. Guiding your monkey through the variety of hazard-filled mazes is still a lot of fun, and with 80 levels to complete there’s a substantial amount of gameplay here.

Unlike past games in the series, the difficulty level has been noticeably lessened as well. Previous Monkey Ball games amped the frustration level up severely as you progressed, but the 3DS version seems to be aimed squarely at more casual gamers.

This is an advertisement - This story continues below

Tilt, Roll, Repeat

The inclusion of 3D visuals actually adds a lot to the game. The levels have a great sense of depth and the graphics are definitely on par with the Wii and Gamecube versions. There are two ways to control your monkey—with the analog stick or using the tilt controls of the system. While the tilt controls are an interesting way to play, effectively making it control just like the iPhone version, it’s impossible to play this way with the 3D effects on since the screen position is always shifting.

There’s also the usual nonsense story to go along with the single-player game, but thankfully very little time is spent trying to convey the plot of monkeys going after a huge piece of candy… or something. Both of the mini-games offer local four-player options, but it hardly seems worth the effort.

The racing controls are sloppy, and this mode is full of frustrating design elements, including poor track design and annoying power-ups. The fighting game isn’t much better with its dull, repetitive gameplay. So, the appeal of Super Monkey Ball 3D rests solely on how much you like maze-based gameplay.

Monkeys, Monkeys, Everywhere

The 3D visuals are good, and the main portion of the game is still fun. Given the simplistic nature of the gameplay, however, Super Monkey Ball has always had to rely on packing in mini-games to make it more attractive. With that aspect put to the wayside, you’re left with a game of limited appeal. Super Monkey Ball 3D works for what is, but we’d have a hard time paying full price for the privilege of steering monkeys to their doom.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?