Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Manic Monkey Mayhem (WiiWare) Review

Review for Manic Monkey Mayhem on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Monkeys and apes are often thought of as mischievous, energetic creatures that can make even the most boring situation instantly more entertaining, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in gaming circles; after all, would Donkey Kong have captured so many hearts if it was a human lobbing those barrels? Would as many have considered Timesplitters 2 if not for the firearm-wielding chimp on the cover? Or could Super Cat Ball have been a success? Nah, no way. So then, a game consisting of monkeys pelting each other with their favourite food is a surefire recipe for success, right?

Made in the UK by an independent developer, incidentally named The Code Monkeys, Manic Monkey Mayhem doesn't waste time with story details or explanations, but instead gets you to make a profile, choose one of eight monkey characters to represent you, and gets you playing the tutorial for the basics. The core mechanics of the game are quite simple too: take control of your chosen chimp on top of a platform, and throw bananas at other monkeys in the same situation until they fall off. Control is assigned to a sole Wii remote, and for the most part it works fine. Use the pointer to aim and turn, and hold down the A button to prepare a throw. As per many Wii games like Boom Blox, you'll have to do the throw yourself, and it is here the game slips a little; with practice this criticism can be remedied, but for the most part it is very difficult to gauge the power of the lob you're trying to make. Some would argue that this merely adds to the challenge of getting a successful shot, but whilst trying to dodge incoming bananas with the d-pad, and getting more ammo by shaking the remote like a madman that leaves you completely open, it becomes frustrating. And, aside from switching platforms by aiming with the B trigger, that's the gameplay in a nutshell.

After you complete a highly insistent tutorial that effectively covers what you need to know, you're given the choice of four modes of single play. Campaign mode presents a group of challenges to beat, with each limiting you to a specific task, be it limited ammo, preset lives number, or time limit. Greatest Ape limits the player to three lives, but with plenty of ammunition, for an all-out battle to reign supreme. Minute Monkey is the game's equivalent of a Score Attack, as you and the other computer players are given unlimited lives and must get as many points as possible. As in many other games with a Score Attack mode, there is also a team effort, named here as Ape Team; a basic two-on-two mash. Only the campaign mode really holds any weight here, as the rest are far better suited to multiplayer play, but without any kind of plot - not even a Donkey Kong Country-comparable 'bananas stolen, get them back' backstory - or any unlockables of any description, few will find motivation to finish the missions.

Screenshot for Manic Monkey Mayhem on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Multiplayer is for up to four players, and has largely the same options as the single player endeavour, with campaign replaced by Pass The Parcel, a hot potato-like game with a box that will explode at random onto the unluckiest player. The other three modes are well suited to two or more players, and all provide the biggest number of play hours to Manic Monkey Mayhem's longevity. The last option on the main menu is the Wi-Fi mode. Like many other games following Nintendo's infrastructure, you can play against random people online, or against people you have registered with Friend Codes beforehand. Sadly, Wii Speak is not supported, but that is the least of Monkey Mayhem's net problems. It may be due to the relative lack of popularity for the game itself, but it is near impossible to find a random match online, and even when friends are registered correctly, the game fails to realise they are online more often than not. To the game's credit, when you finally do get a match going, control is intact, and there is no lag, or framerate hiccup anywhere in sight. It's unfortunate then, that connecting in the first place, and the complete lack of any customisable options for background, rules, etc., hold back online play entirely.

Manic Monkey Mayhem is never going to wow you with its visuals like, say, LostWinds or Nyxquest, but for a downloadable game, it looks passable at least, with the stage background variation and design being a particular highlight. The eight main chimps all have their own characteristics and personalities, and these show from profiles and in-game play, if not where they would have mattered in some kind of narrative. None are individually voiced, but you will hear many monkey sounds in the game, often strangely placed and over a period of time very annoying, and also the Wilhelm scream turns up in perhaps its strangest venture yet. Apart from that, there is some passable background music for each different stage, but nothing that won't make you reach for the mute button in the end.

Manic Monkey Mayhem doesn't hold much weight for a sole player, so where this game will find its niche is with the crowd. There's a a solid game underneath, but a weak online offering that may improve over time and the complete lack of a plot to drive things forward will relegate this game to the bottom of many gamers' SD cards.

Screenshot for Manic Monkey Mayhem on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Control is reliable, if fiddly to begin with, and the concept is sound. Single play houses a broad range of modes to try, and multiplayer makes full use of them, but online appears broken.

Graphics

Fairly good, with decent deviation in regards to background design and monkey character.

Sound

Authentic, but far too frequent monkey grunts and noises, with cheery music for the stages, but nothing mindblowing.

Value

Despite the range, single player is slim pickings, and online is no different, so the weight of the game relies on multiplayer. Without unlockables or a plot you can drive forward, Monkey Mayhem holds minimum hours.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

A respectable first effort on WiiWare from The Code Monkeys, and certainly endued with some British spirit, but key issues of severely hindered online and one player modes hold the game back. A sequel would be welcomed that fixes these issues but for now, unless you're after a fun multiplayer game, it would be best to see how the DSiWare and iPhone versions turn out.

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16.11.2009

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Developer

The Code Monkeys

Publisher

The Code Monkeys

Genre

Action

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

A British dev team? Colour me intrigued! Most WiiWare games seem to be coming from 'mainland' European groups, so it's nice to see someone other than Frontier giving the service a whirl.

It'll be interesting to see what they come up with next Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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