Super Monkey Ball Deluxe PS2 Review

The first time we got to control monkeys in balls was on the GameCube with the aptly titled Super Monkey Ball, where it soon established itself as a hugely enjoyable title, and later received a sequel. The key ingredient for the series is that the single player and multi-player games are entirely different from one another assuring that there is plenty for everyone. The series has now found its way to the PS2 and Xbox with this jam-packed deluxe edition.

If you are a huge Monkey Ball fan desperately seeking more, then you’ll be glad to know that 46 of the games levels are brand new and exclusive to Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, and if you are a really massive fan these 46 levels should suffice until the inevitable third game arrives, well at a push anyway. The rest of the 254 stages have been lifted from the two GameCube games, so if you aren’t familiar with the aforementioned versions then there is plenty to become acquainted with.

This paragraph goes out to the uninitiated lot who have little knowledge of the delightful series. The object of Super Monkey Ball is to roll a simian-powered transparent ball around various stages – wildly differing in difficulty and appearance – and then head for the finishing line before the timer hits zero. Diverse obstacles are often laid out in front of you for you to contend with such as moving objects or narrow bridges. It’s maddeningly frustrating at times, but is always addictive, which isn’t always the best of combinations whilst playing a game, as many joypads will no doubt find out!

Speaking of joypads, Super Monkey Ball Deluxe has had its fair share of criticism for lacking the precise control of the GameCube versions, due to wonkier sticks on the PS2 and Xbox pads apparently. Now we haven’t played Monkey Ball on the GameCube for a long long time, but we felt that the controls in this PS2 version were responsive in every situation, although we do understand how the GameCube’s stick would be more capable for this duty.

One of Super Monkey Ball’s biggest strengths is definitely the multi-player mode, where up to three other players can join in the fun in the games 12 mostly excellent mini games. Sports are well represented with golf, tennis, bowling, football, billiards and baseball all being present, and offer plenty of enjoyment, albeit in simplistic monkey form. Other highlights include the speedy racing, as well as Monkey Target, in which you must take to the skies and later land your monkey in the highest scoring area of the target as you can possibly muster. Low points include Monkey Fight, which is fun, but rather confusing at times, whilst the boat racing just isn’t as fun as racing on dry land. There are few weaknesses in the package though, which makes things all the more delightful.

The attempt to appeal to a broad range of gamers is a great success. When the casual fan grows weary of a brutal stage there’s always the mini-games to turn to for comfort, whilst the Monkey Ball hardcore will persevere with the trickiness and play the mini-games too. It’s all excellent value for money and certainly has its heart set in the right place.

Two games in one means that the colourful Super Monkey Ball Deluxe is the definitive package of frustrating moments and quirky mini-games. This has an identity and level of enjoyment of its own that we feel hits the spot in single player, and is even better in multi-player!