Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll Reader Review
Having recently rediscovered the joys of Super Monkey Ball on the Gamecube, I felt compelled to purchase this, despite the bad reviews when I saw it cheap in Game.
Getting the worst news out of the way early on then: there is no Monkey Target. None. The brilliantly chilled 4 player multiplayer fests that required you to hurl your monkey down a slope before taking off and landing them safely on a score marked island (RSPCA are you listening?) is no more. Personally I'd have prefered it to any one of the 6 remaining multiplayer options, but I suppose there must be a reason for it.
The stylus control seems to have been universally slated as far as I can tell, though personally I've found its fine once you get used to it - and treating it as a giant analogue stick means that with practice it is actually more accurate than the Gamecube control. It does take getting used to, but then so did the original - or it did for me. It took me a few days to get past the beginners stage before I got to grips so I don't think it's fair to dismiss the touchscreen control so quickly.
Graphically it's slightly odd. The environments are all in reasonably impressive 3d, but the wee monkey fellas themselves are 2d bitmap style drawings that have 8 viewing angles. Somehow it works, however and the frame rate stays consistently high.
I'm not sure of its longievity yet. I played through the first two worlds on a long train journey yesterday (without dropping the stylus, despite the carriage shaking - I am the King!) and found it contained some pretty harsh difficulty spikes. Levels of supreme ease give way to ridiculously hard levels based on luck (Level 6 of world 3, I'm looking at you) seemingly at random. So far though, the frustration at the unfairness of it all hasn't seen me stop wasting hours trying to get further, so it seems to have the addictiveness of its console brethren. What seems a perculiar oversight however is that despite recording your score as you play, there seem to be no high score tables for the single player game - which was half the incentive to return from the original game. It's made extra strange by the fact that high score tables for both Monkey bowling and Monkey Golf are readily obtained in the options menu. As I say - a peculiar oversight.
A change which may surprise players of the console version is that instead of 100 bananas transfering to an extra life, the number has been reduced to 10. This means that on bonus stages you can easily get 5 extra lives. At first I was concerned at this making the game too easy, but then discovered that this seems to have replaced the infinite continues system, so its a reasonable change.
So Monkey Ball DS then... it's good n'all, and transfers rather nicely to the limits of the handheld but it could have been so much better. But single cartridge multiplayer is a real bonus, and adding 6 adequate games to the menu of DS multiplayer mayhem is a good thing in my book - it's therefore a bonus that it contains monkeys. In balls. I'd feel cheated if I'd paid full whack, but for £20 it's a good game worth having.
7 / 10