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Super Monkey Ball

When a bonus mode is better than the main game

Sep 26 // Kyle MacGregor
There's just something about Monkey Target. It seemed to have the power to transfix random passersby that might otherwise have little interest in games. Perhaps it was the peaceful music, which never seemed to get old no matter how many times you heard it. Maybe it was the bright colors that pulled people in -- a vast cerulean ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see, rainbow-coated targets, and rows upon rows of golden (and bizarrely Dole-branded) bananas hanging in the air. Maybe it was just the alluring concept of a bunch of monkeys in translucent balls rolling themselves down a slope toward the sea, popping the capsules open and gliding over the water toward faraway bull's-eyes. It's strange and fantastical -- the sort of thing you would have never dreamed up on your own in a million years, something you can learn in a minute but take a lifetime (or at least countless hours) to truly master. I'm not sure what it is about Monkey Target that I love so much. Everything, probably. Even today, I dusted off my old GameCube and fired the game up for a little "research." An hour later I was still trying to best my high score, just as enamored as I was 10 years ago. Are there any extra modes you enjoy more than the main games they're attached to? Funnily enough, the Chao Gardens from another Sega series, the Sonic Adventure games, also come to mind. Please share your favorites with us in the comments below.
Super Monkey Ball photo
Monkey Target forever
Super Monkey Ball was magical. It's a series for which I have so many fond memories. I have this vision in my head, a strong mental picture of half-a-dozen guys in a dimly-lit college dorm room playing Monkey Target 2. There ...

Super Monkey Ball Bounce photo
Super Monkey Ball Bounce

Super Monkey Ball Bounce is equal parts Peggle and pachinko

Bounce, baby, bounce, b-bounce, bounce
May 19
// Brittany Vincent
Do you like playing with balls? How about bouncing balls? I'm talking about pachinko, jeez. Where's your mind been? Super Monkey Ball returns this summer with Super Monkey Ball Bounce, a different spin on a classic formula. ...

Super Monkey Ball proves effective warm-up for surgeons

It seems playing videogames can make you a better healer
Oct 19
// Bill Zoeker
All the time, we are discovering ways videogames can substantially improve our lives, and it now seems they are improving our medical care. Dr. James "Butch" Rosser has found that a doctor playing videogames before performing...

Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz

Nov 19 // Chris Carter
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz (PlayStation Vita)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaRelease: October 23, 2012MSRP: $29.99 The "story" in the Monkey Ball franchise is basically meaningless, as the setup continues to be simple: you get to roll around in various courses in a manner similar to Marble Madness, grab collectibles, and make it to the end before running out of time. Survival isn't the core goal, however -- it's also a score-attack game, as you race for the highest point total possible in the shortest amount of time. Of course, you're only going to get as much enjoyment out of beating your own scores as you put in. The controls are mostly a non-issue. You can (thankfully) utilize the left analog stick to roll around in lieu of using gyroscopic controls. The camera takes some getting used to since it's placed very close to the ground and can't be changed, but rolling around is easy enough -- literally the only button or directional device you'll need to ever use is the left analog stick. As you roll around the 100-ish levels in Banana Splitz, everything will feel pretty familiar. There will be twists, there will be turns, and you'll most likely go flying over the edge a few times. But somehow, someway, it's still mostly fun. Over the course of the game, pretty much every level serves its purpose without feeling too difficult or too easy, and the game's vibrant colors really pop on the Vita's OLED. In essence, the single-player portion is an utterly inoffensive, if very safe portable version of Monkey Ball, with a solid amount of level diversity between maps. There's not much else that can be said about it. Okay, so part of Splitz is your run-of-the-mill Monkey Ball experience -- so far so good, right? Well, while the Solo Play portion is mostly fine, everything else is fairly miserable. Firstly, the menus are a huge drag -- and there are a lot of them, which makes very little sense given the game's simplicity. Since you can't use button inputs on the menus, you have to drag to different options, and they're hyper sensitive. I found myself groaning on more than one occasion -- for god's sake, developers, just let me use the d-pad on menus. The minigame collection is also fairly disappointing, and can barely be called a distraction. Some games, like Monkey Rodeo, use a poor, forced implementation of the rear touch pad that's painfully shoehorned in. Number Ball is basically a rehash of the number-tapping game already found in Welcome Park (which comes pre-loaded on every Vita). If you're looking for fun, you won't find it here, as Banana Splitz continues on that same pattern for all of the scant eight included minigames. Outside of Love Maze, where you control two monkeys (one with each stick) with an overhead view, none of them are worth playing more than once. Love Maze is so good that it may be worth picking Splitz up from the depths of the bargain bin one day just to check it out. While Monkey Target, Bowling, and Billiards can be played asynchronous manner with one Vita, they're so woefully generic that odds are you won't want to. With some ingenuity, multiplayer Love Maze could have easily been playable on one portable and added some credence to the minigame collection, but all we have in the end is a wasted opportunity. The final massive disappointment is the highly lauded Create-a-track mode, which makes use of the Vita's camera to construct a track. Don't get your hopes up here; it's pure garbage. You're supposed to be able to take a picture of something and create a new course, but it just plain does not work. Very rarely will the created track actually resemble anything you took a picture of, and sadly, the game doesn't allow you to customize the level (such as setting it to an easy, medium, or hard predisposition). Most of the time, the track will turn out to be a snooze-fest, which makes you even less likely to return and use it more than a few times. Whoever designed this portion of the game needs to go back to the drawing board, as a fully fleshed out create-a-track mode could have some real potential on the go, as would a QR code system, such as the one in Nintendo's Pushmo. If you really love Monkey Ball, have no intention of playing anything outside of single-player, and come in with low expectations, you might enjoy Banana Splitz if it ever goes on sale one day. While it's not offensively bad like Super Monkey Ball Adventure, you'll most likely want to roll right on past this one.
As original as vanilla ice cream
Monkey Ball hasn't done much to change up its tried-and-true formula in the past decade, and tends to play things fairly close to the chest. You're a monkey, you're in a ball, and you have to roll around to collect bananas. F...


Racing is transformed in Sonic Universe #45

Literally everybody's Super Sonic racing
Oct 16
// Tony Ponce
Sonic Universe #45 hits newsstands tomorrow, but non-subscribers can steal a peek at some fresh pages in the gallery below. This is the Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed adaptation issue that was first revealed right h...

Monkey balls in your face: A Super Monkey Ball musical

Sega and Random Encounters team up for a three-part Super Monkey Ball series
Oct 12
// Tony Ponce
Internet musical collective Random Encounters has been whipping up promotional videos for Sega lately. They concocted Sega Bass Fishing of the Dead as an April Fools' joke, then they followed up with a musical based on Rhyth...

Sega's 4th of July sale for PSN, XBLA and iOS

Jul 03
// Dale North
Sega loves to have sales for just about any occasion, so Independence Day is as good as any. Tomorrow, look for marked down games on iOS (and one Android title), PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Here's what they have...

E3: Gilius Thunderhead & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Jun 06
// Tony Ponce
This is not an announcement that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is being renamed Gilius Thunderhead & All-Stars Racing Transformed. I wish, because Gilius Thunderhead is the greatest Sega character of all time, ...

Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz coming to Vita this fall

May 23
// Dale North
Sega has more monkey business in store for the PS Vita later this year with Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz. Yes, with a "z." This game will feature more than 100 stages of tilt-y ball rolling as well as eight mini-...

Super Monkey Ball decides to get a bit naughty

Apr 20
// Hiroko Yamamura
Some things just represent purity and innocence to me. New born babies, Mother Theresa, and of course Super Monkey Ball. I'm sure you could mix various words in the game's title with others to dirty it up, but the thought of...

Go bananas over Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz

Jan 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Of course there's a new Super Monkey Ball game coming to the PlayStation Vita. Super Monkey Ball is on EVERYTHING and so here's the latest trailer that's more of a tease rather than gameplay footage. Banana Splitz will featu...

Super Monkey Ball on the PS Vita is photo-rific

Oct 21 // Keith Swiader
Super Monkey Ball (PlayStation Vita)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaRelease: TBA 2012 At its core, Super Monkey Ball follows the quintessential "monkey see, monkey do" formula. You have a level, you have obstacles, you have bananas, and you have a goal. Play, rinse, and repeat for a ton of other levels, though each gets more difficult as you go along. Ramps get a bit steeper, corners get harder to take, and the floor has raised obstacles in the form of pyramids having you bump and trod your way across.  The Vita's analog sticks work well with Super Monkey Ball, which honestly shouldn't be a surprise. We've seen and played Monkey Ball before on systems that only offered analog gameplay, so those familiar with the series will feel at home here. The Vita's motion functionality, however, brings a whole new beast. Here, you are basically re-learning everything about Super Monkey Ball, with very calm hands being the key to reaching a level's finish line.  Hopping right in, Super Monkey Ball's control with the gyro-sensor and accelerometer felt fluid and intuitive after the first few losses. It doesn't feel too stiff nor too loose, and I honestly knew that losing a level was definitely due to my own fault, and not that of the controls.  But, motion controls aren't even the best part of Super Monkey Ball on the PlayStation Vita. That would have to go to the game's level creator, where taking a picture of your surroundings with the handheld's built-in camera will instantly make an in-game level based off the captured geometry. As an example, a SEGA representative and I assembled a "level" on a tabletop with a few television remotes and an iPhone. One of the remotes also had an incline to it, which made our impromptu assembly not just a flat surface. After taking a picture of the creation, it appeared on the Vita, and with a few shakes of the handheld, bam! A user-created level was born! Now, the level wasn't an exact representation of what was on the tabletop, but it was nonetheless pretty impressive -- even the angled remote was shown in the course. It also followed the same outline of how the objects were placed.  Harking back to the shaking part I mentioned briefly before, yes, shaking the Vita "assembles" the level, and the harder you shake the harder the level will be. Interesting, yes, and when I tested it for myself it was ultimately true. I was told, though, that the team was worried about people carelessly shaking their Vita, and then ending up breaking them. I could totally see that turning into the next "Wii remote into the television" YouTube video. Super Monkey Ball is planned to launch alongside the PlayStation Vita's release, so perhaps as early as next February will be your opportunity to get your hands on it. As I mentioned before, Super Monkey Ball offers that great quick bit of action that games of a portable platform should provide, and I can't wait to see what crazy level I'll be able to make next.

SEGA is bringing their beloved Super Monkey Ball series to Sony's new PlayStation Vita, which, by the way, has been dated for February 22 of next year. Surely, everybody loves the little monkey rolling around in his super bal...

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