Sony enjoyed massive success with the original Eye Toy, and for the most part, the follow-up titles haven't deviated that much from the original Play title; a focus on mini games with diversions into music, a few titles that more or less dabbled in Eye Toy inclusions, and some fairly regrettable licensed efforts for the youngsters. One charge that you couldn't level at EyeToy games, however, was that they were particularly deep. Plug in the camera, boot the disc and waggle away at the screen like an idiot, and that's pretty much your lot with any EyeToy title. It's also the easiest way to review any EyeToy title. Hey, that's a great idea. Can I finish up these reviews now, please?
No? Oh, very well.
EyeToy: Monkey Mania takes the mantle of mini games, and adds monkeys to it. Lots of monkeys, freshly stolen from Sony's own Ape Escape franchise. So far, so shallow, so good, right? Well, where it all goes a bit cock-eyed is when the main meat of the game is introduced. Monkey Mania, you see, is an interactive board game of the Mario Party type. Now, even the most fervent defenders of Nintendo's plumbing mascot would have to shamefully admit that Nintendo has milked the Mario Party licence to the point of killing the cash cow, with no less than seven titles under the Mario Party banner. No doubt further incursions are likely any day now. Monkey Mania, however, is a different beast altogether. For a start, it's got lots of simians in it, and monkeys usually equate to gaming goodness. To digress for a moment, the formula for a superb game would have to involve zombie ninja flying monkeys shooting bubbles out of their mouths. On skateboards. With NO DAMN STEALTH SECTIONS WHATSOEVER. Ahem.
(Author's note: "Zombie ninja flying monkeys shooting bubbles out of their mouths on skateboards" is a copyrighted idea of Alex Kidman, who welcomes licensing opportunities for this energetic and entirely original bit of intellectual property. Form an orderly line, cash bribes only, please.)
Such things do not abound in Monkey Mania, however, as it can't even compete well with the overstretched Mario Party franchise. All you've got here are monkey-themed mini games of varying quality tacked onto a very dull banana-collecting board game idea. A very slow, dull board game idea. To add insult to injury, the EyeToy mini games don't actually occur all that often in the flow of a game, leaving you rolling way too many dice in order to actually unlock extra mini games. You can play the mini games individually - some must be unlocked first - and to be fair, we found that it was possible to entertain one three year old for a few hours busting monkeys out of ice cubes and wiping monkey pants. All the three year olds in the 3DAvenue audience can safely head out and spend their own money on Monkey Mania. Everyone else has been duly warned.