In the Ugly category we have Monkey Soccer (just too frantic for any real control), Monkey Boat (a river racing game that looks fantastic, but suffers from a ghastly rowing system) and Monkey Baseball (unless, for some reason, you actually like Baseball). All take practice to get the most of – making it best to start off with a group of similarly inept friends – but once you get the hang of them you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Monkey Target is a particular favourite. Like Burnout’s Crash Junction mode, it’s best enjoyed with a group of mates so you can decry each others aim, route, landing technique and – quite possibly – parentage, in the fierce battle for the highest score.
This is a brilliant game, but I’m still not sure about the “Deluxe” tag. I’ll reserve opinion on the Xbox version, not having seen it, but the PS2 version suffers in comparison to the Gamecube’s SMB2. The graphics are still gorgeous, with a great combination of simple, brightly-coloured cuteness in the playing area and outstanding detail in the backgrounds, but they seem to have lost clarity and detail in the conversion. And while the control is surprisingly good when you consider how clumsy the Dual Shock analogue stick can be, the Gamecube controller still has more finesse. The biggest problem, however, is loading times. When the levels are so short the excessive waits in the PS2 version break the rhythm of the game – not a disaster, but certainly an annoyance.
In other words, given the choice I’d rather play SMB2 on Gamecube. If you don’t have that choice, however, then you really should think about buying SMB Deluxe. Go on, you know it’ll make you smile.
A great version of a left-field classic, with the mini-games as enjoyable as ever. However, as it’s arguably inferior to the Gamecube’s SMB2, SMB Deluxe might not be as deluxe as Sega thinks.
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