Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pac 'N Roll - Super Monkey Ball:Touch & Go

Pac 'B Roll
Nintendo DS
Review Score: 5/10

Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Go
Nintendo DS
Review Score: 4/10

August 8, 2006

Blah. Double Blah.

Two Nintendo DS games that use the stylus for controlling the main character. Pac 'N Roll involves rolling Pac through various N64-styled game worlds, through all the usual platform cliches. Super Monkey Ball is, well, another Super Monkey Ball.

Of the two, I'd say Pac is better. At least it's a new game, instead of the latest rehash. It's not a bad game, but am I wrong to feel that rolling Pac along with the stylus is a bit of a gimmick? It's also a little tiring. I feel like Sisyphus.

So I'm sure this could be a game that you would enjoy. To its credit, the polygon 3D graphics are solid and rendered nicely. But, for me, it's a little boring. I got tired of trying to roll poor Pac across one narrow ledge after another. If there was always some forward momentum, requiring you to only change direction (like, oh, I dunno, the original Pac-Man), things would have gone much easier.

For what it's worth, it's a decent effort. At least Namco has tried a lot of new ideas with its DS games, even if they've stuck with classic franchise names. I think I'm getting tired of all these cutsey-colored mascot platformers. Shouldn't we have evolved beyond that by now?

To be completely honest, the only reason I grabbed Pac 'N Roll is because the original Pac-Man is included as a dual-screen bonus. Too bad I have to play all the way through this game in order to get to it. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope the dual-screen Pac reappears on the inevitable future installment of Namco Arcade.


Back to Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll. I mentioned that I picked this up along with Brain Age. Brain Age took away all my time, and Monkey Ball, after about eight or nine boards, just lost its luster for me.

I've finally come to a conclusion about this series. I've never really liked Monkey Ball. Perhaps if I sit down and play the GameCube original (and I just may do so on...doggonit...that new Nintendo console; I'm not using that name), I might connect with it, but I never really cared for the arcade game, and the Gameboy Advance version was sloppy.

The whole control scheme, moving the boards around like those old Tama boards, doesn't work for me. Anytime I want to turn around, or shift directions suddenly, and the camera doesn't keep up with me. Or maybe the stupid monkey-in-a-ball isn't steady enough. Or the controls are too touchy. Or whatever.

The DS version has roundly been critized for its control scheme, which uses the stylus (again, similar to Pac 'N Roll) to move the monkey ball. I don't really have a problem with this, to be honest. Much of the time, I found it to be a good use of analog controls, and whenever it became a real problem...well, let's just say that using the d-pad is a lost cause as well. When the controls screw you over, you're on your own.

What the bloody hell has happened to Sega?! I say this more and more, but they really lost their creative spirit after Dreamcast died. None of their DS games are any good, unless you could the latest version of Puyo Puyo. Even then, that's a pretty vanilla puzzler when faced with the likes of Zoo Keeper, Meteos, and Tetris. And besides, it's Compile's game, and it hasn't changed an ounce in ten years. Why is this game still around?

Somehow you wish Sega would just get back to its roots, and port over some of their classic arcade games like Afterburner, Hang On, Space Harrier, and pretty much anything from the Genesis. Heck, just pack together NiGHTS and Christmas NiGHTS and put that out on the DS. Give me that and I'll be happy.
But whatever Sega does, they need to stop relying on their remaining two or three franchise titles, none of which are really viable anymore. They need to find themselves again before they disappear forever.


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