My fifth favorite multiplayer video game of all time:
Super Monkey Ball (GC)
This is a bizarre concept. There’s cute animated monkey imprisoned in hamster-style balls. When the monkey runs around inside the ball, the ball rolls around the level. Single-player mode focuses on getting your monkey through obstacle courses to the goal.
In multiplayer, it gets even stranger. There are a series of different mini-games, each one unique:
Monkey Billiards – Monkeys are imprisoned inside each ball
Monkey Bowling – Your monkey is inside the ball and steers it
Monkey Golf – Monkey inside the ball again
Monkey Race – Mari0 Kart style races
Monkey Fight – Each monkey has a boxing glove stuck into the front of the ball and tries to knock the others out
Monkey Target – Your ball opens up into a glider, and you try to land the monkey on a target
Bizarre? yes. Addictive? also yes.
This is another example of a game with only average gameplay by itself. However, the quick pace and variety of the mini games make it ideal for a large group setting. Each mode is four-player, taking full advantage of the Gamecube’s four controller ports.
This is also a game for non-gamers – rarely do the different modes use more than one button and the directional stick, so anybody can get in on the fun. Plus, the monkeys are just so darned cute!
There was a sequel, aptly titled Super Monkey Ball 2. But it doesn’t quite recapture the magic. New mini-games like Monkey Boat feel tacked on with awkward controls. Stick with the original.