Developer: SEGA
Price: $9.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Super Monkey Ball is undoubtedly one of Sega’s most loved franchises. Originally showcased at Apple’s March 15th media event, the title hit the App Store back in August 2008, and to many, showed off the iPhone’s first ‘real’ 3D based gaming experience. Racking up a staggering 300,000 downloads in the space of a month, and priced at $9.99, it’s estimated the game brought in roughly $3 Million, for Sega. For the most part the game was a winner. Great 3D graphics, tilt controlled gameplay and a large range of levels to play through – But it didn’t come without it’s problems.

The main issue was due that due to the games size, it crashed… a lot. We never really found out if this was an issue with iPhone OS 2.0 (new at the time), or the app itself. Sega issued an update, and that seemed to fix things. It’s second major flaw though was its controls. Because they were tilt-based, Sega quickly learned they had to implement options to allow the user to adjust sensitivity. They were very sensitive it start off with, and this led to bad reviews simply aimed at the fact of un-playability.

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This week, Sega released its mobile sequel, Super Monkey Ball 2, and I have to say – it has come a long way. Just as before, you can play as one of four characters, including: Aiai, MeeMee, GonGon and Baby. Tilt based, you control character movement by physically tilting your iPhone back and forth, and what I particularly liked about this version is they’ve refined the ‘Tilt Monitor’ in the bottom left corner. Signified by a red dot, this meter actually depicts how level your iPhone is, and when and how much you need to tilt it to ensure you have it flat. The game consists of 115 colour-splattered levels, spread out over 5 different worlds. Super Monkey Ball 2 can be played in three modes, including: Practice, Single Player and Multiplayer, with the option to play through a short tutorial if you’re completely new to the franchise. This release sees an addition I’ve been hoping for for a while, and that’s Wi-Fi Multiplayer! Now, you can face up to three other opponents across any of the 115 included levels. A nice addition! As default, 4 of these worlds are locked, and unlockable by completing in-game achievements (and of course – levels).

Each of these levels is based on tilting the surrounding environment causing your character to roll round maze-like platforms, trying to collect all the bananas he or she can along the way – while trying not to fall off. Alongside normal play, the game also includes 3 mini-games. By default, only one of these mini-games is available, that being Monkey Bowling .. However, SEGA has announced that they are bringing not one, but two new mini-games. These will include Monkey Golf, and Monkey Target, and according to the studio, both these are set to be introduced early next year. Whether these will become in-app purchases is another story, But – Can’t wait! We’ve received confirmation from SEGA’s PR people, that the two extra mini-games hitting next year, will in fact be free of charge – WIN!

Moving in-game, and up top you’ve got your level clock on the left. Following this, you’ve then got your overall score you’ve totaled from banana collecting in the top right, alongside how many lives you currently have left. Bottom left, as mentioned earlier, and you’ll see the tilt monitor – Perfect for judging where you need to tilt your device, and when. After completing each level, the game will give you an instant replay, meaning you can go boast at how well you monkeyed around that time!

Summing up, Super Monkey Ball 2 is a huge step from its original self. While some isolated reports have come in of problems with the game crashing on the second generation iPod touch, in my experience of playing on an iPhone 3GS, gameplay was both smooth and fluent. Within superb in-game graphics, and an upbeat infamous sega-esque soundtrack to boot, Super Monkey Ball 2 is just one of those games you can pick up and play. I highly recommend it!

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