Super Monkey Ball: Adventure PS2 Review

When the words super, monkey and ball come together, most fans know what to expect. The simple idea of locking cute chimps inside balls and rolling them around levels, which range from stupidly easy to infuriatingly difficult, is what Super Monkey Ball has been built on top of. The latest SMB title is surprising, as it’s a completely different direction for the simian series and has much reason to pop the word adventure into the equation.

Despite the transition from puzzler to adventure game, Super Monkey Ball Adventure retains a comfortable familiarity, and is therefore easily a title that is befitting of the Super Monkey Ball title. The usual twisty, crazy and near-impossible levels are present, with 50 brand new stages included for you to test your reactions and patience on. Travellers Tales, the development team responsible for this twist in the Monkey Ball tale, created these stages. Also the popular multiplayer mode makes a most welcome return with Monkey fight, target and racing representing the returning games alongside a further three, which are all brand new, although none of them are quite as enjoyable as the classics. Yes, unmistakeably this is everything you’d expect from the series, but it’s also much much more.

The usual Super Monkey Ball team are all up for selection for this cute and colourful adventure, with Gongon, Meemee, Aiai and Baby still running around in balls. After choosing your favourite monkey (we chose Gongon, because he always manages to amuse us) in the story mode, you’ll find yourself in completely different environments from what you may be used to, and you won’t be looking at the path with a perplexed expression on your face. These are proper playgrounds for your monkey to roll around opposed to the traditional Monkey Ball race from A to B puzzle stages.

Each level has been nicely constructed and is broken up by gates, which annoyingly you have to push around in a circle for ten times just to open the door to enable you access to the next area. Levels are also visually attractive and appealing, and include a tranquil jungle themed island, an out of control theme park, a technologically driven city above the clouds and more.

Your objective is to spread happiness all over the land by completing various tasks from the inhabiting monkeys. It feels a little strange at first to be playing such a different game, but even if this adventure doesn’t feel right in a few areas of importance, given time, we feel that many will warm to its monkey charms.

Much credit must go to Travellers Tales for making sure that the story mode makes the Monkey Ball veteran comfortable in this new playing environment. The usual puzzle stages appear at certain doors for instance, and completing a certain number obviously unlocks the barrier in your way. Taking to the skies is also present on some of the games tasks, and you’ll undoubtedly hear the words “fall out” over and over again, typically on some of the more narrow levels, just as you would if you were striving to complete one of those tough puzzle stages on this or any previous game in the series. Collecting bananas is also something that it has in common with previous games, although here the yellow fruit exists as currency to buy additional characters and extras for the multiplayer mode, as well as for certain adventure tasks, which involves you being kind and donating your bananas to a monkey charity.

A little less familiar is the use of monkey chants, which magically brings new abilities into the fold. When you require a big boxing glove to take out an obstacle in your path you chant, when you need to float on water you chant, when you have to turn invisible you chant, and so on. It’s a unique manner to access your abilities, and it keeps things as simple as possible to assure that this is an adventure suitable for large, small, swollen and even alien hands…perhaps.

Super Monkey Ball Adventure is great fun, but we do feel that the difficulty level rises a little prematurely, and what is acceptable in a puzzle game isn’t as tolerable when you are attempting to progress through an adventure. It has its charms though, as well as everything else that has helped the series reach legendary status, therefore if you are a fan of the series, to monkey around opposed to actually purchasing this monkey-themed adventure, is simply out of the question.