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If ever there was a game that cried out for the Nintendo DS touch-screen control method it’s Super Monkey Ball. Super Monkey Ball rose to fame on the Nintendo GameCube where it was aided by Nintendo’s superb analogue controller, but using the touch-screen on the DS allows for even more subtle control than the original. Anyone who thought that the touch-screen ability of the DS was just a gimmick needs to play Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll, then you’ll just “get it”.
To gauge just how important a sensitive and accurate control method is in the Super Monkey Ball world, you just have to look at last year’s Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. This amalgamation of the previous two games was launched on both PS2 and Xbox last year and while the Xbox controller was sensitive enough to guide your monkey around the treacherous environment, the PS2 controller just felt too clumsy to get the best from the game.
Before going into the dynamics of Super Monkey Ball on the DS, I better cover the game in general. At its most basic level, SMB is an evolution of those maze games that you played as a child (if you’re as old as me that is) – you know the ones, where you had to guide a silver ball around a maze avoiding all the holes along the way. This game play was first transferred to the video game world in the classic Marble Madness, but SMB took the concept a step further.
Rather than just guiding an inanimate ball bearing or marble around a maze, in SMB you’re guiding a monkey inside a ball – it makes perfect sense right? Using the stylus you guide your monkey around the maze, trying not to fall off into the abyss. You can also collect bananas along the way – for every 10 bananas collected you get an extra life, which definitely comes in handy once the maps get tougher.
Although the stylus control method is perfect for careful and accurate movement of your monkey, it’s difficult to empower your primate with a quick burst of speed like you could using an analogue stick. Thankfully Sega has thought of this and has enabled the D-pad as well as the touch-screen – the upshot being that when you need your monkey to get a move on, you can resort to the D-pad instead of the stylus.