Monkey Ball Mini Golf

Monkey see, monkey do, monkey putt

Some people just aren't happy with the ordinary. People who dress their dogs in little jackets, for example, or the sort of person who buys a deep-fried Mars Bar on the way home from the pub.

Monkey Ball Mini Golf, which has its roots in the console Super Monkey Ball series, exhibits the same kind of logic - why just play golf when you can stroke balls around 18 miniature golf holes as a monkey in a ball?

With each shot costing one banana there's nothing so pedestrian as stroke or matchplay rules here - your task is simply to finish each hole with as many yellow fruits as possible.

This basic premise is rendered considerably more challenging by inventive design. Each hole is littered with obstacles ranging from banked curves to worm holes, and pinball-table style springs to speed boosters - with a demand for further strategy based on your choice of monkey.

The four monkeys on offer are the traditional ones - AiAi, MeeMee, Baby and GonGon - and each has particular characteristics to bear in mind. Baby's the fastest, for example, but also a lightweight. GonGon, meanwhile, though not very fast, is heavy and carries a lot of momentum, enabling him to get over obstacles with less difficulty than the others.

Disappointingly, the visual detail in the game isn't of a high enough level to enable you to identify the monkeys by sight - instead you're left looking solely at the titular monkey ball, a red and white sphere. And with music limited to a five-second jingle for finishing the hole, it's fair to say that Monkey Ball Mini Golf won't win any prizes for its presentation. To be fair though, the holes themselves, floating above a bed of clouds or cratered Moon surface, are pleasingly chunky and the overall style is undeniably clear, direct and accessible.

In many ways it's this ethos of keeping things short and sweet that sums up Monkey Ball Mini Golf perfectly. The controls are simple, the goals obvious and each hole takes between one and five minutes to play. Add this all together though and you've got a fair chunk of playtime, especially as the hole designs are distinct enough to enable several returns before you get bored.

Whilst additional courses would have been welcome in extending this further, we'd have happily traded them in for a multiplayer mode - even a hotseat two-player option would have sufficed. As it is though, you're left on your own which seems more than a shame. Surely it's downright unnatural considering monkeys' social nature, and the console original's strengths in group-play.

Of course, if you are an especially sociable monkey, you won't balk at handing the phone around to your chums and playing Monkey Ball Mini Golf sure beats picking fleas out of each others' hair, but with a proper multiplayer option this really could have been top banana - rather than simply an a-peel-ing time-waster. Oof.

6 / 10

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