Super Monkey Ball 3D review: Super Monkey Ball 3D doesn't quite reach the high standards we've come to expect from the series, particularly in terms of its content.
The main single-player game is the Monkey Ball we've all come to know and love. A monkey in a giant ball stands at one end of a floating stage, the aim being to get it to the goal at the other end. You do this by tilting the stage and rolling the ball around.
For many players, the main single-player mode is only the starter course. The main tends to come from its large collection of entertaining and bonkers mini-games. Super Monkey Ball Deluxe on the GameCube had 12 mini-games, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz had 50 of them and the most recent Step & Roll had 21 mini-games. Super Monkey Ball 3D? It has... two. You've got Monkey Racing, Monkey Fight, and that's it.
Monkey Racing is a fairly standard Mario Kart clone where eight racers try to complete three laps on one of nine tracks. As you race, you can collect power-ups that either give you an advantage or lumber your opponent with a disadvantage.
Some of these power-ups are quite clever - one puts a large pair of red and blue 3D glasses over the screen, impairing your view - and the 3D effect is fairly decent but, for the most part, this is a generic kart racer with an awkward drift mechanic.
Monkey Fight is a Smash Bros. clone where four monkeys on a 2D plane fight it out to get as many bananas as possible. As you smack the living daylights out of your monkey rivals they'll drop bunches of bananas, so it's in your best interests to split your time between collecting and assaulting.
While Monkey Fight is a little more fun than Monkey Racing, the camera zooms in a bit too close. As a result, a lot of the game can feel a bit random as you'll often find there's a scrap happening off-screen. A simple zoom-out effect as in Smash Bros. would have improved this greatly. With only three stages, this won't hold your attention for too long either.
What we have, then, is a Super Monkey Ball game that puts the main focus firmly on the single-player mode, rather than the mini-games. Thankfully, this mode is just as addictive, colourful, cheery and one-more-go-please than it ever has been, and both fans and newcomers alike will have great fun playing through it while also enjoying the 3D effects.
We'd even go as far as saying that this is one of the best examples of 3D among the launch titles. The problem is, with only 80 standard levels, Super Monkey Ball 3D is significantly shorter than most previous games in the Monkey Ball series. The six-year old Super Monkey Ball Deluxe on GameCube contained 310 levels.
Going full tilt
There are two control options to choose from here, and unfortunately they both have fairly big flaws. The first is the tilt control, which has you tilting the 3DS forward, back and to the sides to literally roll the ball along each level.
The tilt controls work really well but tilting the system makes it completely impossible to play the game in 3D because you'll lose the 'sweet spot' almost instantly,
The Circle Pad controls are much more like the classic Monkey Ball that we all know and love. However, since the levels are also designed to be played with the tilt method, they're significantly easier than the Monkey Ball levels of old, meaning that a decent player or Monkey Ball veteran should be able to finish all 80 standard levels in only a couple of short hours if they're using the Circle Pad.