Retrospective - The Super Monkey Ball Adventure of the developers
As with all games the prototyping period is probably the most important aspect of a game. If you can't get this right then the rest of the project is going to be problematic. At the time the most important thing to prove was the understanding of the art style and how that was portrayed in to the game. We had six weeks in which to get this up and running with a further six weeks to refine what we
delivered. So three months in which get an idea of what the final game would look like and play like.
We have a character in a ball. Whilst the style of the gameplay was dictated by the minigame mechanics the actual transition of how the player got to different areas of the game and how to make that fun became challenging. We ended up pretty much relying on the gameplay from previous Monkey Ball games inasmuch that careful control was required.
However, once the player is within each of the tasks the gameplay is fun and challenging. It has that frustrating feel that one gets when playing a game that leaves you feeling that you will not be beaten by the game and once the task has been completed there is an immense feeling of satisfaction. Overall the tasks could have been made slightly easier but we also feel that the difficulty curve of the game is very similar to that of previous releases and hopefully pleases the fans as much as those who pick up the game for the first time.
Generally we are very happy with this and think that the game's visuals are extremely strong. The use of the design sheets was a great idea and allowed everyone to get a grip on what the feeling for each world was going to be. One challenge we had was that the stages felt a little bolted on and we strived to create the complex environments that existed in previous version of the game. Transferring the style over to each of the puzzle stages was a simple idea that paid great dividends.
We outsourced this through 2db and Octagon Music for the music and sound effects respectively. It took a while for the guys to get a feel for the game and what we wanted but they soon enough seemed to have it nailed. Working closely with one of our own internal developers we have managed to get the feel of the worlds in to music and the spot effects. Again, we're very happy with result and the
hard work that all involved put in - thanks very much guys!
This is probably the most controversial aspect of the game. Most of the technology was an upgrade of our previous game taking on the comments and challenges that were encountered in that project's retrospective. We also had the opportunity of using the technology from our head office in Knutsford. We decided to upgrade the technology as we were comfortable with it.
In spite of all the challenges we've had on this game we still managed to get Super Monkey Ball Adventure delivered to a good quality and not far off schedule. Overall the feel of the game from both a gameplay point of view and graphically is what we set out to achieve.
We think that SEGA's gamble on expanding the universe of Super Monkey Ball is a brave one we all wish Aiai and his pals the very best for the future and thank you for taking the time to read these articles. Hopefully you will have had some small insight in to how we developed the game, the pitfalls we encountered and the successes we had.