Super Monkey Ball 2 iPhone Preview: Hollaback Monkeys

Illustration for article titled Super Monkey Ball 2 iPhone Preview: Hollaback Monkeys

Anyone who played Super Monkey Ball for the iPhone probably isn't thrilled to hear about the sequel hitting the App Store today. But before you say "this shit is bananas," know that Sega completely redid their approach to the game.


First, they got rid of the 2D sprite monkeys and replaced them with 3D monkeys and 3D boards. This of course changes the physics, which in turn requires a revamping of the accelerometer controls. Which means that very likely most of the bad stuff that made me delete the game from a friend's iPhone less than an hour after he downloaded it is already gone.

Here's how the rest of the game rolls:

What Is It?
Super Monkey Ball 2 for the iPhone is a racing-ish game where you tilt your iPhone to steer a monkey contained in a ball through a 3D board dotted with traps, collectible bananas and an endpoint. Fans of the franchise from its GameCube and Wii versions will recognize Ai Ai and friends in the main cast no matter how small they look on the iPhone.


What We Saw
I played three boards in both multiplayer and singleplayer on an iPod Touch. Only the first stage, Jungle Jungle, was unlocked on my machine — but during multiplayer, a PR rep had Pirates Ocean unlocked and was able to include a board from that stage in our competition. There are 115 boards in all.

How Far Along Is It?
It hits the App Store today.

What Needs Improvement?
Monkey Bowling Isn't Online? Monkey Bowling is one of three mini games that give you an alternative to the basic board racing. (Monkey Golf and Monkey Target should be out at some point in the future as a free update.) The point of the game is to flick your finger across the screen quickly or slowly to send your monkey ball down an alley to knock over pins. While it's plenty fun and you can play it with other people via pass-along play, it doesn't look like you can play it using the online multiplayer that the racing mode uses. This bums me out because I'm kind of weird about other people touching my touch screen. It feels... dirty.

What Should Stay The Same?
Fixed It! The basic 3D racing gameplay feels so much better than the previous Monkey Ball. You won't have to fling your iPhone around wildly to make the monkey go and the accelerometer is very responsive to even the slightest shifts. It's such a pleasurable experience, you won't mind replaying boards to complete banana collection challenges.

Democratic Multiplayer: When playing with people who've unlocked more boards than you, you get the rare ability to sample stages that are out of your league. However, players can't just inflict super-hard boards on noobs because the stage-choosing system is democratic. Once a multiplayer match starts, each player gets to pick three or four boards from their own selection and the game determines which ones to use based on votes.


Final Thoughts
It's a perfect time-waster and pretty enough to where you won't feel embarrassed about having it on your iPhone. I suggest using Monkey Bowling as a way to convince skeptics to buy it so you have multiplayer partners. If you can stand people touching your touch screen, that is.

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Wow, I'm amazed they managed to mess up a seemingly perfect game for the iPhone. The Wii and the iPhone always seem like the perfect platform for Monkey Ball with it's motion control. At least it seems like they got it right this time and are doing justice to one of my favorite series.