Super Monkey Ball hasn't been on a roll as of late (no pun intended). The cruel arcade thrill of the GameCube titles has been diluted by wii remote-waving nonsense.
Asking us to control last year's Step & Roll with the balance board was a big mistake. This 3DS offering is 'Super Monkey Ball: Atonement'.
Gyroscopic tilting still lurks in the wings, but you can, and will, use the slide-pad. with tight analogue input this feels closer to the Cube glory days.
Monkey Ball has its controller groove back, but has it got the arcade cojones to support it? Step & Roll was simplified to the point of non-existence and we're worried it dulled Sega's eye for challenge.
Of the four worlds (of eight) we've seen, all have safety barriers to buffet errant apes away from the abyss. Monkey Ball isn't Monkey Ball without tears of frustration. Fingers crossed for worlds five to eight, eh?
If levels fail to nobble your brainbox, the 3D certainly does. On full whack Monkey Ball is one of the more pronounced 3D experiences, with snaking stages stretching deep into the screen. We also get a taste of what Mario Kart might look like in the new monkey race mode.
With unlockable carts and multiple tracks it's a surprisingly full-bodied extra, even if the handling's loose and the multiplayer limited to local link-up.
The same goes for monkey fight, a banana-flavoured take on Smash Bros' coin battles. Bananas litter the stages and can be bashed from rivals using comedy boxing gloves.
While often a dead ringer for Smash Bros (a golden barrel with a special move in it is basically Brawl's final smash) it lacks that Nintendo nuance. It doesn't help that all the characters are monkeys, merging into a blur of fists and fur.
Still, Super Monkey Ball 3D is a bright and technically accomplished world. here's hoping it has enough depth to keep us in it.
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