Super Monkey Ball 3D


Super Monkey Ball has, traditionally, been something of a gaming devil in disguise.

Its colourful and happy demeanour lured you in to a false sense of spherical security before it slapped you with a challenge that demanded the skill set of an arcade ninja.

Ballerina like balance, impeccable timing and nerves steadier than a mountain goat on stabilisers were just a few of the qualities Monkey Ballers had to possess at the turn of the millennium, but that was then.

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Super Monkey Ball on 3DS finds the series in accommodating form. Fans of GameCube's cruel, cruel originals can partake in some thumbsticking, while Wii's waggle aficionados will embrace the gyro controls. Generous sounding stuff.

Alas, Sega struggles to find common ground. Both inputs share one set of levels. Humouring the gyroscope - a vaguer input, for sure - results in over simplified stages, lacking the heart-in-mouth tension that fuelled the better, earlier games.


Monkey Ball isn't meant to be a pushover. We remember teetering over guitar strings as sweat cascaded from the GC's analogue stick. Here, all eight worlds were done and dusted in an hour and a half.

The level designers are wearing their kid gloves, littering stages with barriers and ball-stabilising grooves. There's an over reliance on springy bumpers, as if Sega realised the problem too late in development and sprinkled hazards liberally around the levels for damage limitation.

It's a shame, as the game looks, sounds and feels great. Hitting a perfect angle and watching a monkey scream around high-speed bends is as maliciously pleasing as it ever was.

3D is best during faster moments - you appear to fly into the screen - so it's odd that most levels proceed at treacle speed.

Your irises will thank Sega, mind - at full pelt, the 3D element is a little too pronounced. More so than other 3DS launch games, in fact.

Traditional puzzles are bolstered with Monkey Race and Monkey Fight - AKA wannabe Mario Kart and wannabe Smash Bros. Karting suffers from clunky handling and a rotten boost mechanic (you drift with gas and brake, then hold a shoulder button).

Fighting is so chaotic it makes Smash Bros look like Virtua Fighter. With extras that feel wide of the mark and stages that simply feel too wide, this is not-so-Super Monkey Ball.

The verdict

Years of waggling has softened Sega's touch. They need to relight that arcade fire.

Nintendo 3DS
Puzzle, Platformer