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Super Monkey Ball 2 – review

This Monkey brings it’s usual cheeky charm to the party, including vastly improved controls…. but, has it left something at home?

Over a year later, and SEGA have returned to their spherical simian roots. The first game was the first real attempt at a console game on the iPhone and iPod Touch… bringing 110 levels of monkey rolling action. But, while it wowed onlookers at it’s unveiling, on it’s release it didn’t get such a warm reception. Many critics, myself included, found the controls over sensitive and hard to find the central rest point of the ball, resulting in some incredibly frustrating play sessions. The controls were later fixed to provide a better balance, but still it’s not considered the best in the series across all platforms. That rests with the acclaimed Super Monkey Ball 2 on the Gamecube.

smb2aSo SEGA must be hoping to reap the acclaim by using the same name. Has it worked? Well, yes… and no! SMB2 on iPhone and iPod Touch is better in almost every way to it’s predecessor. The controls for instance, work far better, on par I’d say with the Wii edition. Graphically, it’s been given an upgrade too. AiAi, MeeMee, GonGon and Baby are now fully realised in 3D – unlike SMB1′s 2d sprites of the characters. Backgrounds and textures are also crisper and more detailed. There are more levels, five more to be exact, and while that’s not a huge improvement, it’s better than nothing. The themed worlds are better realised, including pirate themes etc and the game’s menus are easier to navigate through a word map. Then there’s the mini-games! Right now there is only one, Monkey Bowling (with more to follow via download), but this is almost a full game in on itself, with a fully fledged four player (pass the device) mode. It’s as close to Wii bowling as you’ll get on the iPhone, and it can be a real time stealer.

smb2bSo what’s wrong with it then? Well, with all the complaining of the first game being too hard, SEGA seem to have been over cautious. And while certainly delivering a superior experience in the elements mentioned above, they have made the game too easy. I completed the game in under 3 hours, and while I’m not expecting a fully fledged console experience for $9.99, I at least expected a challenge. Compared to the first game where I got through tons of lives and continues, here I only needed to use one continue, and that wasn’t until the last 3 levels of the game. Not only are the levels less creative in their challenge to the first game, but some levels that look hard on initial viewing, tend to hold your hand with the over-use of guard rails. Within the first few levels of the original game, I was falling off the edge, but not in SMB 2, where if you are careful enough it simply won’t let you.

smb2cIs this a deal breaker? Not really, it’s just something to consider when you buy the game. Regardless of how easy the levels are it’s still a blast to play, and if you add in the collecting of all bananas in a level there is some replay-ability. But the real reason to buy the game is for the local multiplayer of both the main game’s levels (through racing) and the previously mentioned mini games. Monkey Target and monkey golf are on their way soon, to join the brilliant monkey bowling. For that reason, Super Monkey Ball 2 is still a must buy. And with the first game currently on sale, and if you can spare the money, then buying both will give you 225 levels of simian spinning fun for $13.98. Not a bad deal really.

4-stars

Super Monkey Ball 2 is out now for $9.99

or, you can try and WIN it here!

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