Super Monkey Ball is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys...until you reach these levels, that is.
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Monkey Ball/Super Monkey Ball
- Advanced Extra 5, AKA Polar Large. It's Polar (Advanced 30, the one with all the tiny moving platforms), except harder. While A30 could be quickly cleared with the right timing, that luxury has been removed through the addition of a segment so big that it might as well be its own level. The very last platform goes all the way around, but it's constantly flipping, so if you don't cross in exactly the right spot, you will fall to your death.
- Advanced 21 and Expert 36 are two variants of the same level, both involving a track that bumpers move along in a figure-eight. To progress, you have to get in between two bumpers as they come and keep the timing up to get through to the end. A21 actually isn't so bad, but in E36, the bumpers move so fast that you practically need to be running in order to even get on, let alone get through the level!
- Expert 7, also known as Exam-C. It's like Advanced 17 )(Exam-B), but way worse, with the addition of an infamous narrow hill, the first occurrence of platforms that must be traversed diagonally, and a final long, curvy path that's only half as wide as your ball. It's hard to even get to the winding section without taking your time, but if you don't have at least 30 seconds left when you reach it, good luck making it to the goal in time.
- Tracks (Expert 9). All of the paths to the goal are skinny and curved, with the shorter paths being thinner. There is a way to bypass it all but it's arguably even harder to pull off.
- Stamina Master, also known as Master 3. Got the Infinite Continues unlocked? No? You need them here. It's arguably three difficult levels in one. Here are two takes on completing it.
- As Master 13 in Deluxe, it's solid evidence that 13 Is Unlucky.
- Dance Master (Master 5) and Dodge Master (Master 8) both consist of a bunch of obstacles moving all over the place that go so fast that if you run into them, you'll likely be knocked off the stage.
- Bridge Master (Master 9) consists entirely of a bridge that starts off narrow and gets wire-thin by the end. And it's not a straight path, there's a lot of turns in it. And they aren't curvy turns either; they are 90 degree turns.
- Not to mention that this is the only Master stage in the original arcade version.
- Expert 27 is just a breeze, considering its long lines of diagonal moving.
- Advanced 15, AKA Floor Bent. The level is a series of hairpin turns each sloped progressively more towards the outside of the level. The other problem is that each turn is also longer than the last one, making each turn exponentially harder, and you constantly have to struggle against gravity to make it.
- The second game has "Warp", which is essentially this level taken Up to 11. See below.
- Expert 4, "Excursion": appears early on in the game, yet is so difficult. The easy part is going through the turns and over the hills and rotating platforms (which can be a little frustrating at first for beginners to the level). The hardest part, though, is maneuvering your way around five tightly packed bumpers and then through a narrow (about 0.5 width) path that also happens to be sloped with a lens flare in the camera. If you manage to go through all that, you get to the goal. Still, it's not as difficult as Exam-C or Tracks.
- Expert 14 (Invasion). It's a relatively small stage, but surprisingly difficult. You have to make your way past several bumpers (some of them moving) that are tightly packed together. The last three bumpers in particular are arranged on a thin walkway so that you have to be super precise maneuvering past them. Most likely you'll get flung off of the stage your first couple of tries.
- Expert 17 (Tram). The stage consists of 7 rows divided by walls. To move past each wall, you have to go around onto either one of two large, over-sized circles spinning backwards. With bumpers attached to them. And the last row (which the goal is on) is elevated so you need the right amount of speed to roll over it or die trying.
- Expert 21 (Twin Attacker). You must go down a narrow slope without getting knocked off by two giant, parallel blocks that shift from left to right. The path is so narrow that you pretty much have to get the adjusting just right. Too little and you'll get knocked off, too much and you'll fall off the track.
- The master stages may be pure hell, but reaching them in the fist place may be even harder! To clarify, if you want to reach the master stages, you must first clear both the Expert stages and the expert extra stages without a single continue, with the former containing some of the worst stages in Monkey Ball history! And even if you find them easy, you still have to survive 60 stages back to back with only 3 lives. At least the sequel had the decency to give you up to 99 lives.
- Even "better" is that for Beginner and Advanced, you can't lose a single life. Period.
- Hell, even the credits minigame deserves a mention. A bunch of bananas keep appearing in front of you, and a bunch of letters from the credits fall down to obstruct your attempts to get the bananas. Bumping into a letter costs 10 bananas, and it's all too easy to get into a spot where you'll be involuntarily smacked around repeatedly and thus lose an insane amount of bananas.
Super Monkey Ball 2
- "Reversible Gear" will most likely be your first instance of this in SMB2 if your doing the difficulties in order/Story Mode first. The level itself is very simple, but getting in the center of the gear through it's one hole (where the goal is) can be incredibly tricky. You will lose a a life or 5 on this one, even when you know what to do, since it requires some strict timing. Granted with enough practice it is possible.
- Launchers has you being pushed by an obstacle, onto a tower that's curved at the bottom, so you can be launched in the air, and then flail your controller stick in vain hoping that the ball will land at the top of the tower. This is one of the earlier weird gimmicky levels that first game shied away from.
- Arthropod, dear God. The word alone strikes fear in the hearts of men. Words can't describe...
- Oh, and to make matters worse, there was an unused version where instead of a few thin rings, it was one whole wheel, which would've made it ten times more bearable. Why this was removed and not the Unholy abomination we got is a question that may never be answered, unless said answer is "Amusement Vision is evil" or something.
- Tiers. See Expert 9 in the SMB1 folder? Now picture that if the paths were also tilted and without the alternate route.
- Switch Inferno. Pick the right switch out of 30 or so that are all identical or get slammed into a wall! And the correct switch is surrounded by fake switches, so even if you get it right, you may have to go back and do it again anyway.
- Not to mention that there is absolutely no indication which switches are correct, so it's trial and error until you find the first one. After that, the correct ones briefly light up. Granted there IS a strategy in using the Mini Map after hitting both wrong-types to see which ones are right... But still.
- 8 Bracelets is a stage composed of eight oversized bracelets interlocked together, with three tiers of goals on the end. You need to build enough momentum on the relatively-thin platforms if want to swing from one bracelet to the other. Good luck trying to even make it to the goals. While reaching the first goal may be a bit anticlimatically simple after all that frustrating swinging, the second one that lets you skip a stage requires you to be at about the same height needed to traverse the other platforms, and the one that lets you skip two stages is placed up even higher than that.
- Pistons. Picture Launchers above, but on a flat surface with massive pistons shooting up out of the ground. The strategy is more or less Trial-and-Error Gameplay; get hit by a piston and hope you land by the goal. An alternative is to stay very still at the central point around six pistons, as there is enough space to fit a monkey in these regions.
- Entangled Path. Waiting 20 seconds just for the path to untangle is tedious and then you get barely enough time to gun it, hopefully getting to the goal before the path vanishes. Oddly, the green goal is easier to get on this stage if you know how to get to itnote .
- Warp. You have bent floors, the higher (and less slanted) parts of which have bumpers on them to make it much, much harder. There is a green goal by the normal one, but that requires going down a path LOADED with bumpers. You need to be lined up
just aboutperfectly for it.
- Oh, and there was an unused, bearable version where the slopes are flatter. Thanks a lot, Amusement Vision.
- Labyrinth (renamed Crazy Maze in SMB Deluxe), mainly because getting to the goal is a Guide Dang It! affair.
- Domes consists entirely of a bunch of tiny, well, domes that make you bounce off at odd angles when you hit them. If you go too fast, you'll simply bounce off the track, and if you go too slow, you'll waste too much time getting over the domes and never make it to the goal. And immediately after this level is...
- Amida Lot. The bumpers on this continually move up and down seven narrow tracks, and cross over wherever they can. You'll be pausing the game to get a feel for one bumper's path, and once you get that down, you'll get thrown off by the next bumper over. Where's the goal? On the center track, moving up and down with no correlation to the bumpers. You'll have to get really lucky on timing to pass this, because the tracks are so narrow that you have to be dead center to be able to fit properly on the track. In other words, you have to cross from another track and just hope that another bumper doesn't come. This stage suffers from its basis on a concept that doesn't really translate to other cultures—an amida lot is a children's game in Japan, where its rules are common knowledge, and the bumpers in this stage follow those rules. Without knowing how to play an amida lot, it DOES come down to trial-and-error and brute memorization.
- Strata is not so bad in the beginning, but if you're going for the warp you have to cross a very narrow hill at the end.
- Cylinders. This stage intends you to roll across a bunch of rotating cylinders that are super easy to slip off of. The best way to beat the stage is to jump off of one of the cylinders and skip half of the stage, but it's still pretty easy to fall at the last cylinder.
- Spasmodic. Of all the timing puzzles the game has to offer, this one is by far the worst. There are 3 small platforms that are constantly flipping and there isn't much of a window between each flip. If your timing is even a fraction of a second off, you will get thrown off the course.
- Helix is a "follow-the-path-downhill" kind of stage, except the entire path is CYLINDRICAL!
- For those of you just tuning in, that's the outside of the cylinder. The "inside" isn't there.
- Air Hockey of World 9 (or Expert 50) can be pretty hard if you don't know what to do.note
- Hell, any level where there is no indication of the paths of the goal or obstacles. Virtually your only hope of winning is through an exact timing strategy (pausing at certain times and pressing the correct direction on the control stick). Teapot, Air Hockey, Train Worm, Synchronized... they're all guilty.
- Giant Comb: the strategy is really simple: Stop when the teeth of the comb are about to pass you, and advance one space when it's safe. But if you mistime it by too much, or you accidentally drift onto the lines, you might get suddenly smacked off the playing area. Talk about startling.
- Dizzy System is a level where you have to run into the goal as it is moving on a circle. That is moving on a circle that is moving on a circle that is moving on a circle.
- Deluxe brings us Catwalk, which consists of three really long, unforgivingly narrow paths. You can bypass those by taking a fourth path that is narrower than all of those combined. Oh, and the widest and narrowest, unlike the other two, lack invisible guardrails to help adjust you.
- By the way, this nightmare is a Beginner stage.
- That game also amplified the difficulty of some levels involving curve bridges due to the Gamecube having better controls. Most notable amongst those is Exam-C (Expert 7 in the original), which was just moderately challenging in the original. Dear god, it's harder than Arthropod. And words aren't enough to describe...
- Dungeon. How about a maze level where the minimap is completely useless?
- Spatiotemporal, which consists almost entirely of a giant swinging bridge that never stops moving. Basically, get the timing right or die trying.
Super Monkey Ball Jr.
- Please note: given that there are actually a limited number of directions that the monkey ball can face, levels are not NEARLY as hard as in the consoles. That said, there are still some really hard levels.
- Master levels, of course, are a miniature hell, this time moreso (bad puns alert) given that the game is miniature in comparison and that these levels take place in a VOLCANO. But Master 4...well...let me explain. Super Monkey Ball levels are tiled. Jr has much larger tiles. In this level, alternating tile colors are alternatively DIAGONALLY SLANTED. You can't stop moving, and there is barely any same ground. Thank god this is the only level with (pick one) that/this (pick both) feature/challenge.
Touch And Roll
- Starfish is a rainbow-colored port of 2's Reversible Gear, conveniently located IN THE SECOND WORLD. Oh, and the game doesn't use continues, so you're bound to get sent back to the start on your first visit.
- Fluctuation (not to be confused with the SMB2 level of the same name, which is vastly different) is Expert 4 from the first game, except harder due to the DS controls, especially on the narrow hill at the end.
- Whiplash is the first stage of World 12, and what a first stage it is. Imagine Launchers if it were instead on a pyramid, with several layers that you need to launch up. The last launcher is over such a small height that it's trial and error to actually get into the goal.
- Permeation is Giant Comb from the second game but with two combs, requiring much tighter timing.
- Palpitation is just your average anticlimax. It's similar to the level Jump Machine from SMB2 except the goal is on a high platform which is moving around the area. Your timing and also landing has to be spot-on if you are to land on this platform.
- Freewheeler. It consists of a flat spiral that is constantly rotating. It wouldn't be so bad if the camera wasn't impossible to control; as it is, you do the last part of it going backwards and unable to see where you're going without looking at the minimap.
- Pitch and Putt. Good lord. If you don't go as fast as possible at the start, you die. After that, you have to be dead center while flying through the air otherwise you'll miss a platform or even worse, fly over the goal entirely. And god help you if you try and do it without this "super jump". Slanted platforms around holes, with really tiny connecting paths, and some of them are slanted up, making it near-impossible without perfect control over the ball.
- Funrun. While it looks like you can just go full-blast and clear it, the very last bumper will throw you off the course if you don't swerve around it. Keep in mind that this is atop a cylinder and if you go too far in either direction, you cannot recover.
- From the story mode, we have the Noise Factory Climb mission. The entire mission is played using the Stickyball power-up, and your goal is to roll around on the pipes to redirect the noise flow so you can "drive out the monsters", as the factory worker explains. That doesn't sound too bad, except for the fact that the Stickyball moves very slow while stuck to the pipes, the pipes themselves are also very slow while they're moving, you're given no indications of your progress, the cameraman seems like he's on drugs, and one wrong button push can send you careening down into the abyss for a Fall Out. The worst part of it all? NO MAP.
- 6-7 wants you to reach the end of a long, winding slide... in 30 seconds. Thankfully, there are dash panels spread all across the slide. Unfortunately, going to fast will slingshot you off-course, and it's practically impossible to finish the stage with more than 10 seconds due to its sheer length.
- In 8-4, it looks like the dash panels will help you. In reality, stepping on one has a high chance of killing you, this includes the one you'll probably need to get to the top of a steep hill. Oh, and they're littered all over the stage.
- Banana Blitz presents 10-5, which consists of mostly bumpy surface that makes the result of jumps quite unpredictable, a huge obstacle in a game that requires expert precision. To add insult to injury, all versions aside from the PAL version have a Game-Breaking Bug that makes you fall through the solid platform just before the goal.
- Normal 2-7, or Invalid Bowl, and in particular the warp in it. You need to land on and bounce off of a small platform that you can't even see unless you just drop off the starting platform. The warp itself is also on a tiny platform, and it's easy to bounce off of the warp and fall to your doom.
- Advanced 1-10 (Dinosaur Paradise) involves you rolling across some platforms, then some pterodactyl-shaped lifts, then across a wind-up T-rex and into the goal. Problem is that the T-rex can easily jostle you off, and bumping into it's spring can send you flying. Even if you get pushed off and land safely, there isn't enough time on the clock for another go.
- The warp goal in Advanced 2-3 (Risky Coaster). The trick to get to it is as obvious as the Violation of Common Sense that comes with it.
- The sensitivity of seesaw platforms in this game versus previous Monkey Balls turns Advanced 2-7, Panel Balancer, into this. While the first two seesaws aren't too bad, the third one is longer and has a bumper right in the center. Hitting it pretty much means losing a life, as you don't have enough space to correct yourself and you'll just fall off.
- Advanced 2-9 (Block Grid) isn't so bad until you reach the end. Someone thought it was a good idea to pace the goal on top of a square hill that requires both a diagonal transfer to reach and a lot of momentum to reach the top of the hill.
- Getting all the bananas in Advanced 3-3 (Building Blocks), most of which are on tiny platforms that can only be reached with the moving platforms.
- Advanced 3-6, High-Stress Speed isn't so much about difficult movement as it is about movement optimization, because it is a very long level. You'll be lucky to finish the stage at all with all the bananas, and even if you aren't going for them all you'll probably finish with 5 seconds or less on the clock.
- Advanced 3-7, aka Quick River, is comprised of moving conveyors and barriers that move when you move the stage. Doesn't sound too bad, but one nick from the side of the barriers will send you flying, and there are some unfairly small conveyors at the end just to rub it in your face. There's a shortcut that lets you pass the moving barriers, but it requires a total Violation of Common Sense, as in rushing forward off the starting conveyor, which slides you off at great speed, and sticking the landing near the edge of another conveyor.
- Bubble Ball Float, which comes directly after the aforementioned Quick River. It's Bubble Ball, a level consisting of a floor of bubbles from Normal, but now there's more gaps and moving bubbles. It's harder than it sounds. Oh, and there's a hidden warp goal there too.
- And after THAT we have Bumper Street. Curved platforms and bumpers usually don't make for fun for monkeys in balls.
- Advanced 4-7 (Bumper Base) and Master 6-8 (Bumper Core). Thought Speedy Jam from Super Monkey Ball was hard? How about if we add a completely new and MUCH less linear design for it? Good luck figuring out the patterns of the bumpers AND how to get to the goal without getting hit.
- Advanced 4-9 (Loop-de-loop) is the ultimate example of Non-Indicative Name. In fact, circular platforms on this stage are absent. Instead there is an obstacle course comprised of precariously-shaped ramps, a difficult jump, and some thin bridges connecting a trio of inclined platforms.
- Advanced 4-10, or Frontier Spirit, is separated into 2 parts. The first part isn't so bad, you just have to watch out for the trains when they come. The real kicker is the second part, you have to CLIMB ON one of the trains and desperately try to keep your balance until you reach the goal platform.
- Advanced 5-4 (Danger Board) is basically a mix of the aforementioned Panel Balancer and 2's Seesaw Bridges. Which means you have to cross 3 long, extra sensitive seesaws with obstacles placed on them just waiting to trip you up. The small seesaw and the inconvenient curve at the end just rub salt in the wound.
- Surprisingly, a BONUS STAGE makes the list. Advanced 5-5 (Monkey Cube) Is a giant 8-bit Aiai with bananas scattered around. Problem is, the pixels move up and down and the bananas are fairly widespread. You need to collect all 50 bananas within the time limit with both the left stick and motion controls to get 100% Completion. It doesn't help that you can easily fall off the starting platform, meaning you can leave this stage with ZERO bananas!
- The last 5 stages of Advanced are ALL ball-bustingly hard:
- Advanced 5-6 (Heavy Blocks), to put it simply, is Normal 1-9 (Light Blocks) on steroids meets Monkey Ball's Twin Cross.
- Advanced 5-7, aka Satellite Burst, is a long, winding stage with disorienting curves. It doesn't help that you have to go UPHILL about halfway through.
- Advanced 5-8, or Dot Bit, looks like a slightly harder version of Expert 41 from the original Super Monkey Ball, which was moderately challenging. However, the controls on the Vita aren't nearly as tight as the GameCube controller, making this level MUCH harder than it was originally supposed to be. And the less we say about the gyroscope controls, the better.
- Advanced 5-9 (Asteroid Born). Remember Cross Floors from Super Monkey Ball 2? How about we make it longer with the slanted platforms getting gradually smaller?
- The final Advanced stage, Mothership, combines the absolute worst Banana Splitz has to offer. Seesaws? Check. Unfairly shaped slopes? Check. Moving platforms and barriers? Check. Giant obstacles that move when you move the stage? Check. Small obstacles that move when you move the stage, on a thin conveyor belt? Check. Good luck with THIS one.
- Advanced in of itself could qualify as this. It's 50 stages long with breather levels becoming increasingly absent, has stages on par with Super Monkey Ball 2's late Expert Stages, and reaching the warp goals aren't worth the trouble since they only warp you one stage, and are unnecessarily hard to reach. Although the Expert Stages in the first 2 games take roughly 15-20 minutes to clear, these stages will leave you here for just over half an hour, and that's assuming you're having a GOOD run. To make matters worse, you need to clear this behemoth at least once to unlock infinite continues, so assuming you've beaten the other difficulties first, you'll start off with 30 lives (3 to start with and 3 for each of the 9 continues), which will most likely be drained while figuring out the right techniques to beat each level, and if you run out, at worst over 30 minutes of effort will be deemed WORTHLESS. It's no wonder that a whopping 0.2% of players have managed to make it all the way through at least ONCE.
- Master 6-6 (Mega-Float) practically ABUSES the gimmick of obstacles that move with the direction you tilt the stage.
- Master 6-7 (Emperor's Pyramid). As the name suggests, it's a harder version of Malicious Pyramid, a pyramid-shaped maze with the goal on top. This time however, the Guide Dang It! level is MUCH WORSE, with the addition of precise platforming near the end. And when you think it can't get any worse, you've got 60 seconds to do it.
- Master 6-9, or Chaos Metronome, is a harder version of One-Ace Swing, which was already hard enough on its own. The rest spaces are now moving, albeit slower than the rest of the stage. You need to think up a new strategy with very little room for mistake, and WILL leave you with just over 10 seconds left at most. At least getting all the bananas have become easier.