Let's Play Every GameCube Game, Part 37

Super Monkey Ball

Super Monkey Ball (Amusement Vision/Sega, 2001)

SMB's main mode is about navigating a monkey in a ball through what is essentially a ridiculous version of the classic wooden labyrinth puzzles. If you fall off the course before reaching the goal, you have to start over. For me, though, the real fun is in the party/mini games. This version has Monkey Race, Monkey Fight (pictured), and Monkey Target, along with silly versions of pool, bowling, and golf. Those games are a blast to play with friends, and I would be putting it on the list if it wasn't getting a remastered release later this year.

Super Monkey Ball 2

Super Monkey Ball 2 (Amusement Vision/Sega, 2002)

This is basically more of the same, but in a good way. There are more levels in the main game and even a story mode, plus there are 12 party games instead of six and they've all been fleshed out. I don't think it's very controversial to call this the peak of the series, especially considering what comes next. As for Amusement Vision, they'd go on to develop 2003's F-Zero GX before being rebranded as Ryu Ga Gotoku and creating the Yakuza series. It's only natural that that series' masterful weirdness came out of a bunch of monkeys in balls.

Super Monkey Ball Adventure

Super Monkey Ball Adventure (Traveler's Tales/Sega, 2006)

There were a few years when I'd have told you this was the worst game I'd ever played, although admittedly I had probably hadn't even played 1% as many games then as I have now. Still, even if I know games can get much worse than this, it doesn't change the fact that SMBA is a piece of crap. I took a screenshot of the one good thing about it (Monkey Cannon) because the uninspired challenge mode and [insert every negative adjective] adventure mode aren't worth mentioning in any detail. Unfortunately, the series never really recovered from the change of developers.

Super Robot Wars GC

Super Robot Wars GC (Banpresto, 2004)

A tactical RPG about big robots fighting other big robots and aliens. Everything outside of battle is presented as a visual novel, which you can tell was made very, um, efficiently. There isn't much art. Still, what I was able to get out of the story while trying to quickly skim Japanese seemed cool, and the music is great. That's enough to pique my curiosity and give it a list spot. That said, I almost certainly won't stream this game considering how little there is to look at.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee (HAL Labs/Nintendo, 2001)

2001 was a dire year for Nintendo. The 3DO had sold seven hundred million units the year before, and that left little room in anyone's homes for additional consoles, especially not ones with numbers as large as 64. In a last, desperate attempt to survive, they smashed up all their characters into a single game and named it Final... er, Super Smash Bros. Melee. Unfortunately, by then 3DO was so popular that no one would stock games for any other system, and SSBM only sold six copies, all of them to Masahiro Sakurai's neighbors. Although now forgotten by the public, the game lives on thanks to one of its secret characters, Tails, appearing in 3DO's 2020 masterpiece, Army Men 74: Men of the Army of Men.

Superman: Shadow of Apokolips

Superman: Shadow of Apokolips (Infogrames Sheffield/Infogrames, 2003)

It certainly looks better than the Nintendo 64 Superman, but it still looks like a pre-textures alpha that was mistakenly leaked to the public. Superman feels terrible to control and can't even change altitude without flying at full speed, so it's not at all surprising that the game reviewed terribly. What is surprising is that this is a port from PS2 released on year later, and that there was actually an entirely separate Superman game released for the Xbox at the same time. You'd think it would've been better for Infogrames to make one good game instead of two bad ones, but apparently that's not what they wanted.

Surf's Up

Surf's Up (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft, 2007)

This mashup of a racing game and something vaguely like a skateboarding game was the third-to-last title released for the GCN. There were plans to port it to the Xbox at one point, which is even crazier considering the 360 had been out for two years by then, but someone at Ubisoft saw reason and it was never released. This just about marked the end of Ubisoft Montreal making crappy licensed games.

Swingerz Golf

Swingerz Golf (Telenet Japan/Eidos Interactive, 2002)