I was surprised that so few of my friends were excited about the arrival of a new Super Monkey Ball game - I had masses of fun with the game when it was released on the Game Cube. At the time of its original release it seemed a new and exciting concept, a new type of game in many ways and a fresh and fun gaming experience.

It was with a happy heart, therefore, that I sat down, or rather stood up, to review Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll.

Although it wasn't the primary reason I loved this game, the main game is, I suppose, the point of it all. Your monkey, as the name suggests, is in a ball. Super!

Surrey Comet: Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll

You use the Wii Balance Board to guide your monkey's ball through a maze, in a set time, by tilting the board and avoiding the many and varied obstacles in your way - worst of all the sheer drop off the board.

The balance board should be your favoured method of taming these mazes, because it is supposedly the thing which revives the franchise and gives it the fresh feel of its predecessor.

It can be really good fun and, in the right situation, an absolutely bonkers laugh. Like Twister, when the players’ bodies start to contort in all sorts of different directions - trying to get that pesky monkey headed towards a banana rather than the edge of a maze can evoke massively over-ambitious leans and dives and subsequent laughter in spades.

The level progression is pretty standard lead-the-ball-encased-simian-through-a-maze type stuff, starting ridiculously easy, then getting awfully hard awfully quickly.

Surrey Comet: Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll

My biggest problem with it all is the crazily frustrating control system - yet again (and I’ve said this about a few Wii games in the past year or so) the controls seem wedged into the game.

I’ve spent more than a dozen hours playing and was at breaking point on several occasions, as monkey after monkey, after monkey sailed into the abyss.

The balance board is tough to use and sadly a switch to the remote offers little respite from what becomes an incredibly hard game as you work through 100 mazes!

There is plenty more to say on the main game but there is much to cover in the minigame section too.

Many, hopefully, will remember the fun of monkey target or bashing your friends off the monkey platform. The great news is that Monkey target is back!

Surrey Comet: Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll

The bad news is that most of the mini-games are pointless, terrible or unresponsive.

All but two of the 11 main mini-games (there are about 20 in total) work with four players simultaneously. A few are “hotseat”, so four can play, but only one at a time. A few also take one player on the balance board and one on a Wiimote, so you can determine once and for all which is better.

The best of the bunch are pinball, which offers crazy and frustrating fast-paced fun for four (you really should play this with four people!), and extinguishing a house on fire by frantically shaking what Nintendo gave you.

When you have so many options you fear the games are going to be a bit incomplete, and that definitely proves to be the case on occasion here. Some of the mini-games you will play once and never revisit.

In spurts though, this is legendary stuff befitting the Monkey Ball franchise. I really wanted to love this game, but I’m starting to lean the other way, which is disappointingly fitting.

Overall verdict: Six banana


Monkeys in balls are fun
Monkeys in balls on a four man pinball table are even more fun
Mazes offer moments of gaming genius
11 minigames
Return of monkey target
Balance board or Wiimote options


From time to time ridiculously hard
Controls range from iffy at times to criminally unresponsive
May make you hate monkeys in the long run