Release Date: 11/19/2002
Available Exclusively On
Super Monkey Ball is one of those odd games that, these days, feel like it should be on a phone. It’s good in quick bursts or to beat your high score, but that’s about it. SMB is all about tilting a world around to get a monkey stuck inside of a ball to a goal. It harkens back to Marble Madness and days when motion control was a new thing. However, simulating physics and tilting on a GBA with a D-pad seems rather impossible but it’s not. SMB Jr. looks pretty darn good and feels natural with the D-pad. It feels like the game was hand tailored for the GBA.
My only concern is that there’s no goal or challenge mode. You can select from sets of 10, 20, and 30 courses, you get two lives per level, and 5 continues per set. The goal is to try and collect all the bananas while also getting to the goal before the timer runs out. Some levels are easy, some are hard, some feel nearly impossible. Tilting the world around to get the ball inside the goal is a lot of fun at first but then it starts to wear thin fast. After you beat all 30 areas there’s not much else to do.
I won’t say SMB is a bad game, just shallow and lacks depth. It was more like the Gamecube version it may have been better, but understandably you can only fit so much on a GBA cart and the hardware is extremely limited. What is here is impressive for the little handheld.
If you missed this little gem, pick it up cheap on eBay. You will have one fun, and frustrating, afternoon.