As you'd expect, courses do get trickier as the game progresses, and there are some real toughies in here. But even the best levels seem to be missing something - they just aren't fresh or cohesive enough. It feels as if they were slapped together from bits of old ideas according to a predetermined set of rules, rather than built from the ground up with care and imagination.
The courses are no more enjoyable to play through in co-op mode. Here one of you controls Aiai while the other player uses a remote like a light gun to zap obstacles. (Player 1 can use either the balance board or the remote, and in co-op mode the same obstacles appear regardless.) This experience is particularly boring for the shooter, who can only fire at what's on-screen, which is dependent on the direction Aiai is facing.
Since there are few obstacles Aiai can't navigate around, the shooter is largely redundant anyway. Sometimes there might be, say, a big boulder blocking the way, in which case the player controlling Aiai must wait until the other player has fired enough shots to make it disappear. If you think shooting inanimate objects sounds dull, try sitting there while watching someone else do it.
At least the mini-games are excellent hahaha of course not. Banana Blitz was criticised for featuring 50 mini-games which were almost all tedious, tricky to play, lacking in depth and not worth looking at twice. SEGA has seen fit to address this problem in Step & Roll by cutting the number of mini-games by more than half, and making the 21 which do feature tedious, tricky to play, lacking in depth and not worth looking at twice. To top it all off, almost a quarter of them (Fruit Basket, Jump Rope, Hurdle Race, Hovercraft Battle and Hovercraft Race) previously appeared in Banana Blitz.
The new additions range in quality from piss-poor to passable if you're extremely drunk. The controls in many of the mini-games simply don't work properly - it's impossible to consistently deflect projectiles in Ninja Stomp, for example, or control your Spinning Top Attack craft with any degree of accuracy.
There are a few rip-offs of games like Mario Kart and Pilotwings. They serve only to remind you how good those games were, and how rubbish this one is, and make you wonder why you're still playing it. There's also a 3D homage to Lunar Lander, which entirely misses the point of Lunar Lander by being 3D.
The few highlights include Monkey Luge, a WipEout-inspired effort where you use the remote to guide your monkey down a tunnel on a sledge, and make tasteless jokes about recent events in the news. It's turn-based, though, so you can't all play at once, and you can't select the number of rounds, so you have to go through the boring menus every time you want another go.
Sumo Smash sees two monkeys trying to knock each other off a podium by bashing each other with their bottoms. This is quite funny, once. Starlight Swing involves hanging from the moon attached to a rope, swinging around to collect twinkly stars. This is quite charming, featuring as it does swinging monkeys and twinkly stars and nice music, but it's not exactly Monkey Bowling. Which isn't included here, obviously.
So what are you left with? A single-player game which echoes former glories but fails to replicate them. A bundle of pointless, boring mini-games, some of which are barely playable. A new control system which not only makes the game harder to play, but has negatively affected the level design. Step & Roll is only worth a look for the hardcoriest of hardcore Super Monkey Ball fans. And only then if you're only interested in the single-player mode and don't mind playing with a remote.
Otherwise, forget it. The transition to a remote-based control system in Banana Blitz just about worked but this is a step and roll too far. The original Super Monkey Ball wasn't designed with a balance board in mind, any more than monkeys are meant to wear waistcoats, and the end result is just as odd and incongruous. It might well be time to stop grinding that organ.