Even so, there's little here that matches the quality and intricacy of the first game's very best stages and bar some special banana collectibles (many of which appear to require a suicide run to grab), there's no real impetus to go back. Score-chasing seems a little pointless given that it's more difficult not to top the table on your first attempt; online leaderboards might have encouraged repeat plays, but they're nowhere to be found, nor is there any StreetPass or SpotPass content.
Wii owners who endured the likes of Monkey Blacksmith will be pleased that Banana Blitz's mini-game collection has been pruned somewhat. That said, most would reasonably have expected more than two to survive the cull. And these are not the Monkey Fight and Monkey Race fans will remember; the knockabout chaos of the former has been replaced by a Smash Bros. clone, while the latter has morphed into possibly the worst copycat Mario Kart I've ever seen.
In truth, Monkey Race's breathless pace is more akin to ModNation Racers than its Nintendo counterpart, but otherwise its inspiration is obvious. Sadly, it seems Sega decided that Mario Kart was a game that could only be improved by even more overpowered weaponry and collisions of any kind resulting in your vehicle spinning slowly to a dead stop. It's so bafflingly inept you could be forgiven for thinking that Sega hadn't ever made a kart racer before, let alone released one just 12 months ago.
Monkey Fight fares a little better, but suffers from unnecessarily complicated controls for an otherwise simplistic multiplayer brawler, and capricious AI opponents for the lone player. They're the kind of gits that will happily ignore you for half the match, then attempt to knock you out of bounds in the final seconds, instantly disqualifying your total unless you hammer the A button to get back before the buzzer sounds. It offers several game types, but each simply involves having more bananas than your opponent when the time runs out. Sega even has the cheek to suggest that the Basic mode but with each player's total hidden is an exciting new game type.
If you'd been wondering what had happened to the likes of YanYan and Jet – and I truly pity you if so – then you might be pleased to learn that there are plenty of additional characters to unlock. Yet it's unlikely many will bother to go through the process of obtaining them; these modes are so lazily thrown together that the apathy is contagious. At least the core game occasionally seems to be trying.
The most disappointing thing about Super Monkey Ball 3D is that Sega has recently, demonstrably proved it is better than this. Savvily teaming up with quality boutique developers like Platinum Games, listening to fan feedback and localising an uncut Yakuza, even coming close to making Sonic feel relevant again. This kind of release does the publisher no favours at all. If content is king, then Super Monkey Ball 3D is very much the Prince Andrew of the 3DS launch.
4 / 10