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Avoid this Adventure at Any Cost
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 30, 2006   |   Episode 112 (Show Archive)  

   

Sure it's a terrible game, but at least the monkeys are cute!
Leave it to Sega to turn one of their best games into one of their worst. The Super Monkey Ball franchise managed to incorporate exciting 3D puzzles and offer a number of multiplayer mini games. With its simple game play and colorful graphics, Super Monkey Ball appealed to a broad audience and found its way onto a number of different consoles. But recently Sega decided to take one of their best franchises and saut? it in bad sauce. This year we saw the ugly side of Super Monkey Ball, we saw Super Monkey Ball Adventure.

Sega is known for taking memorable franchises and watering them down for the 3D generation. Their Shinobi PS2 titles weren't as good as they could have been, the most recent Sonic games haven't blown the world away, and am I the only one trying to forget that Japan-only Altered Beast game? But oddly enough,

This artwork is about the best thing to come out of the PlayStation 2 Shinobi games!
when it comes to the failure of Super Monkey Ball Adventure the problem isn't Sega at all. Instead we can point our angry fingers at the word itself, "Adventure."

Customers should know that when their favorite franchise adds the word "Adventure" to its name they should look the other way. Fans of the exciting 3D space shooter, Star Fox, were shocked to see what had become of their favorite polygonal pilots when Star Fox Adventures hit the stores. Is this a shooter or The Legend of Zelda-lite? The problem was that it was neither, instead we got a boring adventure game with a lot of monotonous game play.


This is just one of the many things you would not see if this was a 2D Sonic game!
Unfortunately Sega appears to be a repeat offender when it comes to this trend. When Sega wanted to reintroduce Sonic the Hedgehog to a new generation they chose the name, Sonic Adventure. While Sonic Adventure has its legions of fans, the 3D version of the game never quite matched the intensity and creativity of the 16-bit counterparts. When they were fast it was at the cost of non-linear levels, and all of the exploration levels just felt tacked on. Sonic Adventure 2 only compounded these problems by adding levels where you play as different characters, none of which were much fun.

This problem isn't only an issue in this new 3D world; Sega has been labeling their bad games "Adventure" for decades now. Back in 1992 Sega released a spin-off called Phantasy Star Adventure. Instead of offering you a chance to

Yeah ... that's what he said.
take a bunch of your friends into battle against giant sand worms, Phantasy Star Adventures is more of a board game, complete with dice. Thankfully this boring offshoot only contaminated Game Gears in Japan, but it's still a major disappointment considering the caliber of titles in the Phantasy Star series.

The Phantasy Star series wasn't the only role-playing series that managed to take a perfectly good franchise in the wrong

This may possibly be the single ugliest Final Fantasy box of all time!
direction. In the U.S. Square did a similar U-Turn when they released Final Fantasy Adventure on the original Game Boy. To Square's credit, the American release of Final Fantasy Adventure is really Seiken Denestsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden in Japan, the game that would launch the franchise that brought us the Secret of Mana and the upcoming Children of Mana.

But while this series would later go on to greatness, the 1991 Game Boy game wasn't all that good. If you were a fan of the turn-based Final Fantasy experience then there was no reason for you to even touch the box (which was

Why do I get the feeling that I just sparked some interest in a Tony Hawk offshoot?
an ugly shade of green, for what it's worth). The game felt like a broken Zelda clone, it was short and involved you searching for boring items. The Final Fantasy name felt tacked on in order to deceive fans of what was otherwise a strong series.

So far all of the games in this trend have taken a good franchise and mutilated them by adding out of place adventure elements. But not every "Adventure" game goes as far as to send you on pointless quests, C: The Contra Adventure proves that you can use that word and alter the entire game experience without making you explore anything. Contra was doing just fine in 2D until this clunker came along. Many fans consider this to be the worst of the Contra titles; with its horrible 3D game play and its lack of two-player support it's easy to see why.

For fifteen years game players have had to put up with companies taking good titles and turning them into bad adventure games. Super Monkey Ball Adventure is just the most recent example of this trend; there is no doubt that Sega (and other companies) will do this again in the future. Perhaps Super Mario Kart Adventure, Rockstar Table Tennis Adventures, or Tony Hawk's Adventure ... actually, I'm a little surprised Activision hasn't published that one yet.
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