Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll Review

Sega attempt to ape their past success on a new piece of hardware. Can they return balance to the precariously positioned series?

By Rupert Higham, February 16, 2010


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A decade on from Super Monkey Ball’s arcade debut, and if the countless sequels and spin-offs have taught fans of simians in spheres anything, it is this – the original concept was a master stroke of design genius that required no modification.


A natural evolution of Marble Madness, the design brief was as tight as Pong and as addictive as Tetris, requiring no explanation beyond “collect bananas, reach goal”, while all the while being devilishly exacting and eternally rewarding.


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Banana crop circles may seem a little outlandish, but then you are playing as a monkey in a ball.

Since 2005′s sublime SMB Deluxe, the series has only felt comfortable moving forward with new hardware concepts, jumping on any piece of gadgetry that tilts, shakes or oscillates, sadly with varying degrees of failure. Following Traveller’s Tales’ appalling bastardisation that was SMB Adventure, Sega of Japan have once again taken the reins for Step and Roll, a sequel to SMB: Banana Blitz, and as the title would imply, they’ve found a new piece of hardware to play with in the somewhat underused Wii Balance Board.


Offering a pleasingly straightforward choice of Main Game (collect bananas, reach goal) and Mini Games (a selection of 21 party games), SMB is once again in familiar territory. Dropping the unnecessary boss battles and jump command, the main game tasks you with rolling your chimp through seven worlds of ever-increasing difficulty in a way that thankfully doesn’t really require any more explanation that that. No doubt to compensate for the new control scheme, courses are initially easier than previous iterations, and you will see plenty of guiding half-pipes and protective barriers in early levels, though masochists will be pleased to see it gets painfully tricky later on.


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Visuals are as hyperactive and colourful as we have come to expect from the series, though for some reason they still lack the polish of the original game.

Though Sega are “kind” enough to give us a new control scheme, it has come at the expense of a trusty classic. You can no longer utilise the perfectly workmanlike analogue stick of the Nunchuck, and are forced to use either the Wii Remote or Balance Board. The Remote offers an experience comparable with Banana Blitz, allowing a reasonably good degree of control over the levels if you’re willing to put in the hours needed to tame its sensitive nature.


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9 Responses to “Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll Review”

  1. Joe Redifer says:

    Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz did NOT allow for the analog stick on the nunchuck to be used in the main game. I really wish it had, otherwise it might be a decent game, but it failed. Same with this game. It’s too bad, only the first two SMB games on the Gamecube are any good.

  2. Rupert Higham says:

    My sincerest apologies Joe, you are of course right. The Wii launch line-up is a little hazy in my recollection and I think I fused the one decent thing about SMB Adventure (analogue stick controls) with SMB BB. Thanks for the heads up.

    You’re spot on about the first two games being leagues ahead of recent versions too. SMB Deluxe was a great compilation that added a handful of new extra levels to mix though.

  3. I’ve tried this on iPhone and it’s just awesome. I totally love the coop mode where one can play as usual while the other one can blast the obstacle out of the way and you can battle with your buddies with those mini-games.

  4. Doree says:

    Er, has anyone noticed that banana crop circle is in the shape of a Dreamcast spiral? SEND THIS TO UKR!

  5. safire says:

    dude i dont even know how to play =(
    :0 sooooo mad

  6. safire says:

    it wont let me like i used to have that same game (Super monkey ball) when i was little and my friend stole it

  7. safire says:

    ahh sooooo mad at my friend

  8. safire says:

    but i still like your website it is really cool

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