Monday, July 14, 2008

Super Monkey Ball

SMB for the iPhone hasn't been waking up to rave reviews on iTunes lately, but the game just needs a little love. SMB for the iPhone/iPod Touch is a simple game where you are one of four monkeys inside an acrylic ball. You have to roll around to the finish portal and collect as many bananas as you go. 10 bananas = Extra Life. The game is played in 10-12 level sets. There are two sets for each area: a easy and hard. These levels are totally different from easy to hard, and the first area's easy is really to master the controls. Don't worry about losing all your lives on the first set of levels, it will help you to master the controls. But SMB has it's share of good and bad qualities, but for starters, I'll list the good:

1. Amazing Graphics - The graphics are what really shine on this port of SMB for the iPhone. In the App Store, they may look a bit choppy, but those screenshots must be some sort of beta build as they do not do justice to SMB's true graphics. You wouldn't expect this kind of quality on a phone, but SMB pulled through and made an extremely visually pleasing game. 
2. Addicting - I spent 1.5 hours last night playing away at just the first stage on easy. Granted, I was trying to get a hang of the controls, but even then it was addicting and fun. You will get sucked in during a long plane ride or car trip (if you have the juice for you iPhone) and won't want to get off the plane as it may disturb your progress on stage 4.
3. Surprisingly high replay value - Once you get a hang of the controls, this game has a tremendous replay value. Most would think that the tough controls would be a total turn-off, but once you power through the learning process, then this game will be fun from point A to point B. And probably to C, D, E, etc. 
4. Controls - I love this game and I have noticed myself ignoring prior reviews of games I love just to avoid second thoughts on the game. But the controls are non-avoidable. The controls aren't a pickup and play kind, unlike what Sega promised us, but they are some of the most innovative controls out in the App Store today. They use the accelerometer in all aspects. For instance, you don't turn the iPhone like a wheel to turn, nor do you lift either side to turn, you use a combination of both.  They may be hard to master, but once you do, this might be the highlight of the game. 
5. Variety and # of Levels - The levels in SMB will keep you busy on that 17 hour flight to Tokyo and on that 3 week road trip across the US. The levels are all different and they present a variety of skills to be mastered. There are somewhere near 110 current levels to keep you occupied. 
6. Challenging - SMB is one of the hardest games to master, yet is also one of the hardest games once you master it. The levels are all challenging and have different obstacles, from no walls on the bridges, to little pinball like contraptions that shoot you away and off the edge if you hit one. 

But there are some bad points about SMB that you can't avoid:

1. Controls - Yes, I listed the controls in both the good and bad because they deserve mostly good, though most people will complain during the first couple hours of use. The controls are some of the hardest to pickup and play, and thus most people won't enjoy the game and just get frustrated. If your getting frustrated, remember this: Don't Give Up!!!! It may take you awhile to master the controls, but once again, they are some of the best controls out there. 
2. Restarting - This may be the major low point in SMB. If you get a call on an iPhone, and you choose to take it, then your game will be sent back to the beginning of the set of levels you were on. Hopefully there will be a patch to fix this but until then, you will have to endure starting that set of levels over again. 

All in all, this game is worth it when you master the controls (Don't give up) but it could be lowered just a hair price wise. Maybe $7-8 would be perfect. But overall, this game is one of the best games in the App Store today. 


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