The fact that it rarely steps over that edge is down to two things. Firstly, all the levels, no matter how difficult they look, can be completed. Sometimes it just takes the courage to go belting through the whole thing at speed, at other times a steady, painstaking approach is needed. Sometimes it takes a brilliant strategy, or just a clear head and some simple, dogged persistence. Admittedly, there’s always the dilemma of whether to head straight for the goal or pick up that juicy bunch of bananas near the edge, but you can make up your own mind on that one.
Secondly, SMB2’s story mode did a solid job of removing two of SMB’s biggest frustrations. There are no more lives or continues to cope with, so none of the weeping and gnashing of teeth involved when you lose everything on one bloody level after sliding through the rest first time. The action is broken into approachable stages, and these worlds give you a choice of what levels you tackle and in which order. If a level really gets you down, just avoid it – you lily-livered wuss.
If you prefer things hard and old-school, you can always settle in for the appropriately named challenge mode. The easy levels are actually the simplest introduction to the game (and good practice for story mode), but after that things get difficult, then very, very, very hard. Even Monkey Ball masters will struggle with some of the trickier efforts, but look on the bright side – don’t you hate a game you can just breeze through?
One of the reasons to persist used to be that you needed single-player success to unlock the various eccentric and brilliant party mini-games. In SMB Deluxe, however, they’re all open from the off. While this loses a little of the sense of reward, you can’t complain too much. SMB’s mini-games are the best in the business, as perfect for post-pub play as for those Sundays when your sister and the kids turn up unexpected. Again, simplicity is the key. Most (with a few exceptions) utilise just the main analogue pad and one button, and all have very basic mechanics and objectives.
We can divide these up into three basic groups. The Good include Monkey Race (think Kart racing with monkey balls), Monkey Fight (the ball is fitted with giant boxing gloves and you knock each other off the edge of the map), Monkey Target (glide your monkey down onto a target, grabbing bananas along the way), plus Monkey Billiards, Monkey Bowling, Monkey Golf, Monkey Tennis and Monkey Dogfight (I’ll assume these are obvious). The bad is limited to just one game, Monkey Shot (a simple on-rails shooter with zero entertainment value).