Super Monkey Ball Jr.
The sinister Dole Corporation is back, continuing to place monkeys inside of plastic bubbles for our amusement. But is it still fun?
Monkeys are just like superstar athletes in that they make every game better. Don't believe me? Then I challenge you to name one monkey-themed videogame that sucks. Go ahead and take your time, but I'll tell you this; one series you can't considee is Sega's Super Monkey Ball. All are worthy of being considered super flash bang awesome, and the same can be said of Super Monkey Ball Jr., THQ's pint sized primate romp for Nintendo's GBA. It certainly has its faults, but if you crave some monkey action on the go, it more than satisfies your primal hunger.
Super Monkey Ball Jr. is actually a miniature version of the hit GameCube launch title. It features the monkeys Aiai, MeeMee, Baby, and GonGon, as well as the same menu screens, music (although it's been slightly tweaked), and levels, which are divided into Beginner, Advanced, and Expert categories. Heck, it even has some of the mini games, including Monkey Bowling and Monkey Golf, and some of them feature multiplayer for two.
But what's really impressive about SMB Jr. is how amazing it looks. THQ's done a masterful job of creating pseudo 3D environments and realistic Monkey Ball physics, so at times the game is almost as cool as its big brother.
In case you've been buried underneath a pile of bananas for the past few years, Monkey Ball entails guiding a monkey that's encased in a ball (hence the title) to goals by tilting floating game boards. It's often a rather maddening experience because the levels become ridiculously hard as you progress, tossing ramps, moving parts, and other assorted obstacles in your path.
With that said, there's no other way to play SMB than with an analog stick, and the GBA's lack of said feature is the primary reason why SMB Jr. isn't as good as its home console brothers. Forced to use the digital pad, maneuvering the monkeys around can sometimes be an exercise in frustration, and I plummeted to my death more times than I could count. However, the game is very playable as long as you hold patience in high regard.
Despite its control woes, SMB Jr. is an enjoyable GBA title that proves Nintendo's system has plenty of horsepower underneath its hood. Also, the inclusion of some of the mini games is a great plus since they provide you with a means to cool off after the single player game has got you steamed. Value priced at many stores, SMB Jr. isn't nearly as good as its home console counterparts, but it's a worthy pickup nonetheless.
What's Hot: The GBA pushes out some impressive 3d-looking effects. Very nice!
What's Not: Unfortunately, the lack of analog control turns this into a frustrating experience.