If either the ball control had been better or the ramps and paths had been more forgiving – and the stupid fallout equals instant failure mechanic had been removed – then Super Monkey Ball Adventure could have been as genuinely lovable as a baby gorilla. As it is, it merely makes you angry, like a hungry chimp being taunted by a fat kid with a banana.
And while Travellers Tales deserves some kudos for producing a PSP version that so closely – if you’ll excuse the pun – apes its bigger console brother in the looks department, the shift from dual shock to analogue nub only makes matters worse – as do longer loading times and a slightly slower frame rate. If you want mobile Monkey Ball action, Touch and Roll is still by far the better bet.
I’d like to say that the party games make everything alright, but they don’t. Three of them, Monkey Race, Monkey Fight and Monkey Target, have already been done better in Super Monkey Ball 2 (and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe). Of the three new ones, Monkey Cannon is the best, with you frantically firing your chosen ape at enemy towers until yours is the only fortification standing. The others – Monkey Bounce and Monkey Tag – just aren’t all that exciting.
Overall, this is a major disappointment for the erstwhile Monkey Ball aficionado, and a game that’s hard to recommend to even the most desperate fan of platform games. It looks cute, but underneath the cuddly veneer it’s the cutesy platform Ninja Gaiden: a game so hardcore that it spits in the face of those without the utmost skill and dedication. In short, this time the title doesn’t really tell the story. It’s not much of an adventure, and it’s certainly not super. Which means that all that you’ve got left is a load of monkey balls.
What could have been the 3D platformer of the summer is destroyed by poor control mechanics and bizarre design decisions. Ultimately, high-rolling antics and precision platforming simply don’t make the best bedfellows.