Super Monkey Ball Adventure
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Super Monkey Ball: Adventure is a platform game released for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo GameCube. The game was developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega. It is the eighth installment in the Super Monkey Ball series, following Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll.
The Super Monkey Ball gang are given a task by King JunJun of Jungle Island to help save the marriage between both Prince AbeABE of Monkitropolis and Princess Dee-Dee of Kongri-La, as both islands citizens do not get along with each other and have a fierce rivalry that sadly prevents both the prince and princess of each island from getting married, so the Gang have to bring peace to both islands in order for both AbeABE and Dee-Dee to get married and become Husband and Wife.
Why It Goes Bananas (in the worst way possible)
- One of the main criticisms about this game is its fully unique Adventure mode, which doesn't sound like a bad idea and is great in concept since it's about free roaming around non maze based areas that feel akin to a 3D platformer, and takes some creative liberties with the franchise, however it's very poorly executed as the entirety of the level design is just downright awful with it horribly clashing with the ball rolling mechanic from the previous five games. It's made worse with the levels obviously not being designed with this mechanic in mind, and since the game also lacks a jump mechanic which was later implemented into Banana Blitz (which omits the free roaming adventure mode), it makes the game feel like a random clash of ideas that sadly didn't go too well and since it was the only game in the franchise developed by Traveller's Tales (who had very little experience with the franchise and its own formula), it makes the factors adding onto the rushed design even worse.
- It also doesn't help that the game was rushed according to Jon Burton, since the developers at Traveller's Tales were inexperienced with the Super Monkey Ball franchise and reused the game engine of Crash Twinsanity for this game and combined it with the mechanics of the GameCube games, which do not mesh well at all since Crash Twinsanity was a 3D platformer and the aforementioned title was already rushed itself, and since Sega had put more attention on Banana Blitz for the Wii and that there wasn't enough time, the game was released very early in mid-2006, which resulted in the game suffering from a numerous amount of problems down below this page.
- The controls are a massive downgrade when compared to the GameCube games, as they're extremely stiff and awkward to handle, since all of the Monkeys feel as if they are moving on thin ice, and with the lack of a jump mechanic in the game makes them a chore to manoeuver around the stages and floors, especially in the later half of the game.
- It also completely misunderstands the importance of control in the previous games, as the player actually had to control the stage and not the Monkey in the ball, which lead to the games being very challenging and testing a lot of players skills which is something that this game just doesn't do, as your controlling the monkey instead of the stage which is rather bad design since it results in the game being a lot more frustrating and because of this, it strips away the challenge and accessibly of the previous games.
- The graphics are rather ugly-looking for the 6th gen console standards, as many areas of the game suffer from poor rendering, bad textures, and horrendous light shading making the game an eyesore to look at, not only that, but the character models are also hideous as their mouths have awful lip syncing that is similar to puppet acting and all of them look way too identical to each other just with different clothes on, and many of them move incredibly stiff like and very poorly, especially Baby who for some reason now walks on his feet instead of just crawling like he normally would.
- The game doesn't support progressive scan just like the first game in the series where the second one had support in mind and could help to make it easier to play for less experienced players.
- All of the levels are extremely tedious and monotonous, as they're all poorly designed with awful missions and lack of objectives that they will become aggravating for the player to even complete.
- Jungle Island (the first level) is a bit tedious to roam around since it is very small and due to the terrible controls, very easy to fall off of it, it also features a lot of forced objectives that the citizens tell us to do which are not very fun in the slightest, again due to the terrible controls, and since they have a timer, they will be near impossible for the player to solve and can be ultimately frustrating at times too.
- Moonhaven (the second level) is difficult to navigate through, as you can only go through the four main sections in a linear fashion; unlike Jungle Island, where the main sections are interconnected. You're also highly prone to fallouts as the platforms are skinny; and in the underground area you'll most likely need to use the broken flying mechanic.
- Zootopia (the third level) has missions that are more difficult and tedious than ones in other worlds, including the worlds that come after it. With the terrible controls and game engine, the advanced and lengthy missions end up becoming difficult and tedious. The Hedge Maze section is easy to get lost in, and Ale'wat's balloon mission makes the maze even more annoying than it already is.
- Monkitropolis (the fourth level) is completely maze based and rampant with difficult obstacle courses and poor placement of small and floating objects that are rather thin and extremely easy to fall off of due to the terrible controls, and nearly all of the missions in this level are exhausting to no end.
- Kongri-la (the fifth and final level) is extremely bland and underwelming since it is very linear and has almost nothing in it with the smallest amount of NPCs in one of the game's levels to date and overall, just simple objectives and just plain nothingness.
- The Stickyball sections are extremely long and tedious, since they need to stay pixel perfect on the ceiling floor or else you'll mess up and due to the terrible controls, it is very easy to mess, especially in the level Zootopia where you have to follow the yellow lines perfectly to find an item that you need to get to the next area and if you screw up, then you have to restart it, which can get very annoying because of how bad the controls are in this game.
- Both the North American and PAL regional box arts look pretty ugly and creepy looking, especially the PAL region box art on the front cover where AiAi is pulling off a grin in a rather disturbing way as he runs in his ball facing towards the cover art, which just gives off an uncanny valley vibe to it as a whole and makes AiAi look more older than he needs to be, which is creepy at best.
- All of the challenge stages have seen a significant downgrade from the GameCube games, as they are a lot more lazily designed and some of them can even get cheap at times and not in a good way, such as Freewheeler where it's mostly just a test to get your Monkey to around the entire stage by going backwards (which can make the controls even worse to handle) to get to the goal while the timer is running, but due to the terrible controls, it will become near impossible for the player to properly finish this level and since the stage is already questionably designed, it can become a hassle to play the entirety of it as a whole.
- Each level has a winch mill section where you have to turn it by rolling your Monkey towards both sides to turn it just to get to your next destination that your supposed to go next which is extremely tedious due to how absurdly fast the winch is and again the terrible controls, and since you're supposed to do these sections for the entirety of each level to get to a certain area you need to go, it can make these sections are chore to get through and very likely to screw up at with, most likely because of the terrible controls and the winch's uncontrollable speed.
- The game is packed to the brim with numerous bugs and glitches due to the game being rushed in development in order to get it out before Banana Blitz (which literally came out the same year as Adventure was supposed to the big title in the franchise at that time), with many examples include sound glitches that happen in random places and other game glitches that just happen, such as falling off the stage causes the game to become unplayable and zoom out of the level and move up towards the sky with various model pieces (which was discovered by Jeff Compass as when his friend fell off of Jungle Island while he was inserting codes, he discovered that the game stopped working and that he saw bits and piece that he thought were Monkey Poo, which got him very confused), and other glitches that can happen such as the Non-Solid Monkey Glitch that was discovered by Andrew, as if you talk to an NPC and go into the Shoot the Duck room and uses a lot of Monkey Codes that give you access to different power-ups, then the NPC will no longer be accessible to talk to as you'll easily go pass through his body when you get out of the Shoot the Duck room.
- The game even crashes constantly as well too, mainly with the GameCube version as when a group of Speedrunners were playing the game, it instantly crashed while they were on the first stage with the screen being blurred out with numbers on black bars that were coloured white, which they got completely embarrassed by it and got depressed in shame because of it.
- Lazy voice acting. Almost all of the small male monkeys sound like AiAi, female monkeys and Ale'wat all sound like MeeMee, and the Big'uns & NikNIK all sound like GonGon, and most of them do not match their lip-syncing, which can make what they're saying come off as awkward and phoned-in.
- The music is extremely forgettable and cheap at best since a lot of it does not fit the franchise and instead feels more like generic video game music you'd see in a 3D Donkey Kong game rather than a Super Monkey Ball game, and as for the music in the Challenge stages, they're mostly ripped from the first game and randomly copy pasted around each of the stages, which is extremely lazy and cheap as they easily could've made original music for the challenge stages themselves but due to the rushed game development, the developers sadly didn't have enough time to make any extra pieces and mostly just brought the tracks from the first game and brought them to this one which can be seen as a massive waste of potential in general.
- The game has a more Saturday Morning Cartoon-like art style when compared to the 1940s anime esque look that the GameCube games had, as it was illustrated by the same guy who illustrated the art for Crash Twinsanity, Keith Webb (who's more well known for his exaggerated and cartoony art style), whose signature art style does not suit the series at all, which makes the characters look more like Bath Toys in the illustrations and are even worse when translated into the game's 3D graphics as the designs look uncanny when compared to the first two games in the series, especially MeMe (who has an extremely ugly-looking mouth that makes her face look very rigid and bizarre compared to how she looked like in the first two games).
- There aren't any Bonus Stages this around time, as after you've completed the fifth stage of the three difficulty modes, you'll move on to that next level instead of getting transported into a Bonus Stage like you normally would in the previous games, which is rather disappointing since Bonus Stages in the previous games were very fun and helped to advance the arcade-like feel that they had, and since the game was already rushed in development, it makes the stages feel more barren to complete without the Bonus Stages and strips away the charm that the previous games had.
- Nearly all of the game's content is heavily recycled from the GameCube games and Deluxe, since they have the same mini-games and many of the stages are identical to the first game's stages, and the game being more story driven was already done with the second game, and the game itself doesn't improve any of the flaws from the previous games and actually decided to implify them to an absurd degree to the point where it feels like playing the same game from 2001 just with more cheaper design and completely lacking what made it so memorable and great to play in the first place, and to make matters even worse is that the arcadey feel of the first two games is completely absent from this game which makes the levels feel a lot more barren and lackluster when compared to the previous games in the series.
- On top of that, most of the content in the game is rather lacking, as there are least stages than in the previous games and the amount of other original content that the game has to offer is extremely lacking in variety.
- Many of the NPCs aren't very interesting or well-developed since their only purpose is just to give you simple objectives and they have absolutely little to no personality at all; most of them are very one-note and cliche at best. They also look too identical to each other with only few differences here and there such as wearing different clothes and having different sizes, that's basically it.
- Awful Loading. The GameCube version suffers from extremely long load times that are almost as bad as Sonic '06's as they tend to last for a bit too long, and they're even worse on the PSP version where they can even take a whole minute to load in general, thankfully however, this isn't a problem on the PS2 version as they can take just a decent amount of time to load themselves, but they can take a bit longer if you select another mode or exit one in general which can drag on a bit at times in certain areas of the game itself.
- Poor and inconsistent framerate that tends to go over 60FPS a lot and can even result in some graphical and gameplay bugs at times, especially in the Challenge Stages when your trying to go as fast as possible towards the goal very quickly before the timer rounds out.
- The story is incredibly cliche and in general quite boring as it's about the four main characters trying to help King Junjun with a wedding for both Princess Dee-Dee and Prince AbeABE, one that doesn't seem to be working out due to their homelands being rivals to each other, so AiAi and friends decide to bring peace to both worlds and let both Dee-Dee and AbeABE marry each other by travelling through different worlds. While this is nowhere near as bad as Super Monkey Ball 2's Story Mode, it is still pretty mediocre and bland since it mostly revolves around trying to get two lovers from different worlds that don't get on well and get them to become married, so they can live life as both Husband & Wife which makes the plot feel more like a fetch quest rather than an actual story which at least the second game's plot still felt like.
- Both the collision detection and physics in this game are incredibly janky, broken and very unfinished at best, since the ball your Monkey is in tends to wobble a lot and can make the terrible controls even worse (mainly in the level Freewheeler which requires the player to go backwards due to the stage's convoluted design and combined with the awful physics and terrible controls make the level the worst one out of all of the challenge stages to date).
- Unlike other games in the series, there isn't any practice mode for the challenge stages at all for new and inexperienced players who have recently got into the series, which is rather disappointing as a practice mode would improvise players to know the mechanics of the game, and since the challenge stages are already poorly designed in the first place, it would result in the new player only playing the three main difficulty modes, which get harder and harder as they progress especially Expert which features extremely hard levels, and when they do play the experience, they will get frustrated easily and give up at the last second, and to add insult to injury, the first two games had a practice mode in them to let players to try and master the stage for the first time where they might be bad at first, but after playing the stage many times, they'll get extremely good at it, which was a great way to let players master the game's mechanics and become accustomed to the games control scheme which is very important to the overall gameplay of Super Monkey Ball itself. So having no practice mode would mean that new players to the series would just have to play all of the challenge stages on their first try without any practice mode to give them a first try and later master them, and since they wouldn't be very good at it would lead them to hate the gameplay and stop playing.
- The player cannot save replays before, during, or after playing a stage, which is a downside for some who want to record the stage they played.
- For some weird reason, the Advanced mode has more stages than the Expert mode, having a total of 20 stages when compared to Expert's total of 17, which is rather strange since Expert is meant to be harder than Advanced, and in the previous games Expert mode had the most stages before you would unlock Master mode after when you've completed all of the game's stages which was due to the game's arcade-like gameplay; the first game originated as an arcade game back in 2001 called Monkey Ball (which featured a different art style than the console version, did not have GonGon as a fully playable character and was controlled by a banana shaped joystick to move the characters around the stage to get to the goal before time runs out).
- Whenever you fall out of any challenge stage in the three difficulty modes, the music will reset and will play a different tune from SMB1 with the same thing happening when you finish a stage by going to the finish goal and moving on to the next stage, with each track being used in a stage that is set in day and night which some tracks do not fit the tone of the stage, mainly with the Jungle theme which will play either in the Day, Night or the Neon stages which for the Neon and Night stages seriously feels very out of place for those stages, which overall makes each stage sound very off key and extremely out of character when they switch themes with some of them not fitting the stage's theme and environment, resulting the music in the challenge stages being very messy and overall incredibly strange and out of character; since most of the tracks are from the original console version of the first game, it makes listening to the stages very off for first time players.
- The challenge mode serves absolutely no purpose in the game whatsoever, as all of the challenge stages can be played in the Adventure Mode and are used as missions to progress through all of it, and since the difficulty modes are very incorrectly placed together and there are only 4 playable characters in this mode, this mode could've easily been cut from the game without making a difference.
- The Chance Codes completely break the pacing of the game and make the player extremely overpowered with weapons that allow them to effortlessly defeat enemies and skip through all of the little parts of the levels very easily, which can remove the challenge from some parts of the game result in the player having to backtrack through the Adventure mode in its entirety (such as the Boxing Glove where it punches certain objects and enemies very strongly (mainly the ones in the level Zootopia that guard certain parts of the level), and will knock them very easily). They can even cause some glitches to happen in the game as well (especially in both Jungle Island and Zootopia).
- It doesn't help that they're required to finish the entire game by inserting codes to get to the next level or trying to fix some objectives in certain areas, which makes the game near impossible to complete without inputting these codes.
- They're also quite convoluted to figure out with what level it might send you to, or what weapon it will give thanks to the terrible controls which can make an entire playthrough of the game a literal nightmare.
- GonGon was given an unnecessary and mediocre redesign in this game, as instead of being a rather miniature gorilla like he was previously, he is now a lankier AiAi and now fully stands up which is rather strange, and to top it all off, he looks more younger than he did previously and can walking just like AiAi and MeMe which is rather creepy since GonGon was meant to be the strong man of the group. Making him younger and more lankier is a terrible change to his character in general.
- Unimpressive sound effects, which are mostly rehashed from the previous games and feature new ones that sound very off and low key in comparison to Touch & Roll (which featured sound effects that were unique for the franchise and sounded quite good for DS standards).
- The PSP version is by far the worst version of the game, as it suffers from a severe amount of screen crunch and the controls are made even worse by the more smaller analogue stick that the PSP has when compared to both the PS2 and GameCube's Analogue Sticks which are more bigger in comparison, which makes playing the game a lot more time consuming than both the PS2 and GameCube versions. Not to mention that it has longer load times than the GameCube version and that it also runs a lot worse then both versions combined.
- The GameCube version also has problems that are worse than the PS2 version, such as having more glitches, longer load times (as mentioned above), less content and weaker presentation & content.
- It almost tarnished the franchise's reputation completely, as after this game, the series would start to rely more on gimmicks and less on an arcade-like experience from the first two games, as Banana Blitz wasn't that much better than Adventure since that entry was still incredibly mediocre at best (just like Adventure), with it introducing guardrails that prevent you from falling off the stage and many other gimmicks that did not work out at all, and ever since then, every game in the series after that have been relying on gimmicks that completely break the game altogether and most of them are way too easy and boring when compared to the first two games which were tough and challenging but still fair and rewarding to the player, however Banana Mania seemed to improve the franchise heavily by going back to the series' roots with tough but challenging gameplay that is very arcadey and relaxing.
- It even goes to show how incompetent Sega are with their franchises, since they always tend to run them into the ground until they completely die out as shown with both Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monkey Ball which the company butchered so badly that they would make the company known for their poor handling of the many franchises that they own, but since they released Banana Mania and are teasing Sonic Rangers to be completely open-world, it seems that this isn't an issue anymore, but it still badly affected their reputation and legacy as a whole.
- It is also a horrible way to end the classic era of the franchises as the next game would feature drastic redesigns of the characters and a new art style that was completely different from the previous games and was very similar to the DS installment Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll, which also featured redesigns of the characters (namely both AiAi and MeeMee), and also featured a completely different art style too, the classic designs wouldn't be featured in any of the games until Banana Mania where they featured the classic designs as alternate costumes for AiAi, MeMe, Baby & GonGon.
- It doesn't serve any purpose to the franchise either, as Sega decided to ignore the game in its entirety and move to other Super Monkey Ball games; in fact, barely any of the new characters from this game even remotely appear in future games, and little to no references to this game were even made in Banana Mania (which is meant to be a homage to the first two games in the series by the way).
- The game quickly becomes boring in the Adventure Mode after completing the first level as nearly all of the missions play out the same and nothing in the game changes, which makes the overall experience rather shallow and bland at best.
- Extremely short length, as all of the modes can be completed in less than two hours and don't have enough content in them which is a lot shorter than the second games modes which last a lot longer than this games modes do and is more worthy of actually playing and have a decent amount of content in them when compared to what this game has.
- Good art of Keith Webb, despite not fully fitting in with the franchise.
- It has a widescreen mode which makes it a bit better to see.
- The PSP version has 15 extra challenge mode stages, which is nice and adds more content to the game.
- It even features more content too such as an additional side story mode.
- We finally get to meet Baby's father, who is AiAi's future and fully grown up self, which is a nice nod to the instructionmanual of Super Monkey Ball 2.
- The mini games are still fun to play and even have more playable characters than the previous games, which can be seen as a massive improvement overall since having more playable characters allows for more wider options and thanks to this inclusion, it allows for more variety when compared to the previous two games where they only had four playable characters, which were AiAi, MeMe, Baby and GonGon.
- While most of the characters look pretty ugly in this game, Baby is an expectation to that, as he's still cute as he was in the previous games which is a relief to see.
- The Adventure Mode, while poorly executed, was at least a unique feature to the franchise and is at least an improvement over Super Monkey Ball 2's story mode, which was mostly just all of the stages from the challenge mode but placed in between cutscenes and separated into different worlds.
- Despite ruining the franchise and putting it in a much worser place than it was previously, it was at least a learning experience for the franchise becoming more experimental with its gameplay, and did show some signs of its great concept of a free-roaming Super Monkey Ball game, and unlike later games in the series, the challenge stages have not been seen to get a complete overhaul as it's still the same as it was previously which is getting your Monkey to the goal through maze like stages that differ in difficulty before the timer runs out, which isn't rampant with overused gimmicks and mechanics, and still is the same as before.
- Despite the overused gimmicks in the game with the Adventure mode, it is at least tame when compared to later games, as they aren't shoved down people's throats as much and can offer some uniqueness that previous games lacked.
- While they're pretty broken and poorly programmed, The Chance Codes are pretty helpful in their own right and help players progress through the game better, even if trying to insert the right code to a certain level can get quite tedious though.
The game received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics and fans alike for its sloppy gameplay, numerous glitches and story mode. It has been considered by many people to be the worst game in the series to date and ultimately considered to have ruined the franchise's reputation in general.
The GameCube version received 51/100, a 56/100 for the PlayStation Portable version, and 53/100 for the PlayStation 2 version on Metacritic. Nintendo Power was mixed about the game giving it a 5.5/10. The game was given a 2/5 rating by GameRadar, 4.8/10 by IGN, and a 5.7/10 by GameSpot. It was also given a 1/5 rating by X-Play, making it one of the worst reviewed games to date.
The game also underperformed commercially with the sales only being below one million units according to VGChartz, making it the worst-selling entry in the series to date only behind Banana Splitz on the PlayStation Vita, which was a title on a handheld console.
- Future AiAi's design is meant to be a homage to Bomberman according to Keith Webb, with his red suit and his yellow helmet with an antenna on it, has similarities to what the aforementioned character itself and with it meant to represent him being from the future and being an older version of the main character of Super Monkey Ball, AiAi, he wanted the character to given more design aspects, but due to the rushed development cycle, they sadly had to recycle AiAi's character model and put on different clothing to completely depreciate him from the real AiAi himself.
- It was the only game in the series not to be developed in-house by Sega instead being developed by Traveller's Tales, it makes this the only game in the series not to be developed in Japan.
- Before Banana Mania, it was the last game in the series to feature the classic designs of the main characters, as Banana Blitz would feature drastic redesigns of the characters with a more cartoonier art style that was different from previous games in the series.
- Metacritic: Super Monkey Ball Adventure for GameCube reviews
- Metacritic: Super Monkey Ball Adventure for PSP reviews
- Metacritic: Super Monkey Ball Adventure for Playstation 2 reviews
- VGChartz: Super Monkey Ball Adventure for Nintendo Gamecube
- VGChartz: Super Monkey Ball Adventure for PlayStation 2
- VGChartz: Super Monkey Ball Adventure for PlayStation Portable