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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 
  • Getting to the Advanced Extras can be quite a challenge on its own since you can't lose a single life. Period. This also applies to getting to the Beginner Extras but that is comparatively easier.
    • Similarly, if you want to unlock all the Master levels in Practice Mode, you may need to have infinite continues, since Master in this game cannot, generally speaking, be unlocked as a separate mode, even if you have completed Expert and Expert Extra stages without continues in the first place.
  • Advanced 15 (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. Your controller better be in good condition, or else you're going to have a bad time.
  • Advanced 30 (Polar). A small level with a whole bunch of tiny orbiting platforms. You start at the center, and must move up each layer (and this is very hard) until you reach the goal. Even if you can clear it, you may die at still least once, which can be so frustrating if you're trying to get to the Advanced Extras (as explained above). There is a way to clear it quickly with the right timing though. Which brings us to...
  • Advanced Extra 5 (Polar Large). It's just like Advanced 30, except harder. The luxury of clearing the stage quickly 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.
  • 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 have a right-hand turn with a lens flare in the camera, and then a dip. If you manage to go through all that, you get to the goal. Still, it's not as difficult as Exam-C or Tracks, and it's spared from similar infamy by being among the very few stages you can skip in Expert.
  • Expert 7 (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. It really says something that early adverts suggested that this was going to be moved to the Master stages.
    • The version of the level in Banana Mania bumped the time limit up from 60 seconds to 90 seconds, but the stage itself is still left unchanged.
  • Expert 9 (Tracks). 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.
  • 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.
  • Expert 27 (Twin Cross) is just a breeze, considering its long lines of diagonal moving.
    • Expert 42 (Checker) takes it up to eleven. It's nothing but platforms you need to traverse diagonally. It's comparatively easier to reach the blue goal than to reach Expert 27's, but still.
  • Expert 32 (Curvature) is a long stage where you will need to charge through quickly until the last parts, where the path gets progressively skinnier until one with a quite skinny area that also requires a turn. Good luck.
  • Expert 36 (Speedy Jam) is a faster variant of Advanced 21 (Middle Jam), 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 43 (Carpet). This level intends to eat up most of your time with two pairs of slow-moving platforms. What makes it hard is only one platform of each pair is able to reach the stationary platform where you enter, and only the other can reach the stationary platform where you exit. You have to transfer between the two by dropping, and it's easy to slip off. Still, once you really get a hang of it it's not too bad, and once again it avoids infamy because it's another one of the only stages in Expert you can skip (thanks to Expert 42).
  • Expert Extra 9 (Sanctuary): While most of Expert 41 through Extra is surprisingly easy in comparison, this one then shows up to make sure you have to earn your way to the Master stages. It involves a stair case of partial spheres with platforms that get progressively smaller, until the last one can barely fit the goal. Your speed has to be perfect, or else you will be sent to your doom.
  • The master stages may be pure hell, but reaching them in the first place is already very hard! 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 stagesnote  back to back with only 3 lives. At least the sequel had the decency to give you up to 99 lives.
  • Master 3 (Stamina Master). 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, especially considering the less precise control stick of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox controllers makes subtle adjustments on the narrow peak even harder and the existence of Master Extra stages rendering usage of continues moot.
  • Master 5 (Dance Master) and Master 8 (Dodge Master) 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.
  • Master 9 (Bridge Master), the only Master stage in the original arcade version, 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.
  • Master 10 (Monkey Master) is a kinetic art piece of AiAi balancing on a block, with the goal on the top of AiAi's head. Take a shot every time you charge for the goal and miss it by mere inches, finish your glass if you happened to be running a continue-less or even a deathless run only for this stage to show up and destroy it. Mind you, due to how the stage works, you absolutely have to charge for the goal to have any chance of beating it.
  • 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 
  • The bonus stages, albeit for different reasons. Good luck getting a perfect on any of them. The easiest ones (and this is relative) are Bowl and Leveler. The other seven range from brutally difficult (Rampage, Board Park) to outright impossible (Banana Hunting, Fighters, Earthquake). It should be telling that the bonus levels were designed to be so difficult to collect all of the bananas on that there isn't even a "perfect" coded in the game.note 
  • 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 may 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 you may never lose a life on it again.
  • 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.
  • 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 and the first time players have to utilize air control. For masochists, it also has one of the hardest green goals in the game on the bottom of the platform, requiring perfect timing and lining up to obtain.
    • Banana Mania seemingly makes things easier by adding convenient notches in the aforementioned launchers, but it's still a tricky stage.
  • Arthropod, dear God. The word alone strikes fear in the hearts of men.
    • Let's sum this up. There are five large rotating rings that you have to jump across without falling into any of the gaps. Where's the goal? Right at the bottom of the back one. It'd be one thing if the rings were all there was to the level. All you have to do is wait until the 40 second mark, and at that point the goal should come to the top (where you are) for you to charge straight into it. But nope, this level has another layer of aggravation, considering there's a giant robotic insect walking across the rings, and it's far too easy for the legs to either smash you through the ground or knock you off of your trajectory. Another method of beating this level is to immediately free-fall from the back-most ring (when the goal is still upside down) but this is arguably even harder.
    • 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.
      • As if SEGA knew how much of a gigantic difficulty spike Arthropod was, the stage was altered in Banana Mania so that the gap between the rings is small enough to roll over (similar in concept to the beta design) and the goal comes up sooner.
  • Unsurprisingly, Expert mode (World 5 and onwards for Story Mode players) has a huge number of stages where players will hit a wall. Some honorable mentions go to Cliffs, Hierarchy, Momentum, Vortex, Serial Jump, Cross Floors, Flat Maze, and Guillotine but for the most part they're not nearly as hard as the following stages below...
  • Mad Shuffle. There are two long bars that slide around and try their best to push anyone who crosses them off. After the bridge makes two "rotations", they will switch directions, so you have to be paying close attention to the pattern of the bridge. Still, it's more consistent than it's evil twin brother just five stages later...
  • Toggle, which places the player behind 80 or so rotating tiles. Half of them flip upside down, then the other half flip upside down, then rinse and repeat. You can't take them one at a time as you don't have enough time. Your only hope is to blast through the level as fast as you can and hope your timing is right, that you don't get a bad bounce, or you don't get shoved off the side by the many obstacles. It's like Beat Block Skyyway on crack.
  • Tiers. See Expert 9 in the SMB1 folder? Now picture that if the paths were also tilted and without the alternate route. It also bears the distinction of having one of the hardest red goals to reach in the entire game, with the path to it being both skinny and tilted.
  • Narrow Peaks is a stage dedicated to the angular hills that appear in Expert 7 from SMB1 (and even Master 3). The left path ends with an almost identical replica of Expert 7's narrow hill, and the right path has even skinnier ones than that. After that is a long, narrow path to the goal. If you have good camera control, this level won't pose much of a threat. Otherwise, you're gonna be here for a while. And while it can be skipped in Challenge Mode, the only way to do that is to get to the aforementioned red goal in Tiers.
  • 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. Luckily, you can use the green goal in the prior stage to skip it in main game mode.
    • 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.
      • Banana Mania's stage view mode absolutely cheeses this, however: First, push one switch to activate one pushing wall, and then push a switch to activate the other pushing wall. Pause the game, and you'll see which switches are pressed that trigger each wall. Memorize the ones not pressed; those are the ones you want to push the goal upward.
  • Spiral Bridge is a circular platform with a spiral ramp that leads to the floating platform with the goal. The problem is the circular platform and spiral ramp is spinning. There WILL be Camera Screw if you aren't going fast enough, and when you get to the top of the tower, you have to time exiting the straight bridge to the goal JUST right or else you will fall off and have to do it all over again.
  • 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 Triangle Holes, but all of the holes are of uniform size on a flat surface with massive triangular prisms 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. You can use the red goal from 8 Bracelets to skip it in main game mode (green goal in Deluxe).
  • 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. Remember Advanced 15 from SMB1? 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 about perfectly for it. This is another level that is skippable with a green goal in main game mode.
  • Labyrinth (renamed Crazy Maze in Deluxe), mainly because getting to the goal is a Guide Dang It! affair.
    • While requiring an unlock via 30,000 play points, the jump feature in Banana Mania amusingly snaps this level in half.
  • Heavy Sphere wouldn't be so bad if the starting bridge the player lands on wasn't so far away from the bridge that actually need to be crossed. This level basically comes down to trial and error, getting to the very back of the starting bridge and trying to figure out when the exact cue to charge to the bridge is.
  • 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.
  • Pendulums consists of transferring from one platform to the next (go too early and you'll get bumped off, go too late and the platform under you will collapse), much like Momentum, except they get faster as you go. The final set of platforms in particular requires absolutely perfect timing. It's no wonder everyone skips this stage with the warp goals before it in Free Throw. Ironically, the stage is actually easier on fast forward if you're any good at air control and finding clever shortcuts.
  • 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.
  • Long Torus. The stage is a rotating crank, with the handle being a torus, but the middle is stretched out a long way from the starting platform, with the goal(s) on the other side. First, because the radius of the torus is bigger than the cylinder leading up to it, it's easy to slip off of the torus before you even get to the straight paths. Secondly, even if you do make it to the end of the torus, odds are the goal will be facing vertically and you'll have to fall into it. Good luck not missing it entirely.
  • 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. This stage is easily one of the hardest in the game, though it can be skipped with the green goal on Synchronized. For bonus points, it has one of the hardest green goals in the game as well, with it being perpendicular to the way you're going, requiring actual speed and precise timing off the edge to get.
  • 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.
  • 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). In addition to Dizzy System, Air Hockey, Train Worm, and Synchronized are all also guilty.
  • The game's final level that is exclusive to the original version: Nintendo. It's an accurate model of the Nintendo GameCube, and requires you to navigate it as it turns through each side of it. If you aren't careful, you will end up in a spot that will trap you for certain doom, such as the power area or controller ports, or just roll off the stage. And lastly, even standing in the flatmost area of the top of the console for too long will spell death, as you will be launched off the console by the hinged ejector opening to reveal the goal in the CD drive.
    • It should be telling that, in Deluxe, the object used in the level (now called Destiny) was changed into a much-less complex (and copyright-friendly) 6-sided die, including the ease of only having to stand in the corner as the goal lifts up from the facet of the 'one' side.

    Deluxe 
  • This game amplifies the difficulty of some levels involving curve bridges due to the GameCube having a more percise control stick. Most notable among those is Exam-C (Expert 7 in the original), which was just moderately challenging in the original. Dear god, it's harder than Arthropod.
  • Even Beginner mode looks unusually challenging; at 40 stages long, it's almost the same length as the Expert modes from the past two games. And there's even some stages that look as though they belong in harder difficulties.
    • Exam-A can be a lot harder without the familiar precision of the GameCube control stick.
    • Teeter has three see-saw bridges with bumps and holes. You have to avoid being thrown off by these while making sure the bridges don't tilt over too much at the same time. Falling off won't drop you from the stage, but you will have to start all over if you do. This doesn't sound like a massive problem until you realise that there's a time limit.
    • Catwalk consists of three really long, unforgivably 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.
      • Banana Mania widens these paths a little bit to the point where if you're precise enough, you can actually traverse the banana bunch-riddled shortcut this time.
  • Dungeon. How about a maze level where the minimap is completely useless?
  • Spatiotemporal, which consists almost entirely of a giant spinning bridge that never stops moving. Basically, get the timing right or die trying.
  • Fractal. Picture Expert 27 in Super Monkey Ball 1, but instead of squares, it's a Sierpiński triangle. Some of the holes on the right side are filled in but they don't really help that much.
  • If you're playing on an Xbox 360, certain levels that are otherwise fine in the original Xbox will have massive slowdown, primarily the ones with mirror surfaces. While this as the potential to make some of them easy, others become much more painful than they already are such as Sega Logo, Switch Inferno, and Warp.
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    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.
  • Expert 19 is based on Expert 29 from1 except that instead of conveyors you have to cross sloped platforms that move. You actually have to speed up to land on the platforms and even then it may not always work. Fortunately, at least this level is skippable by taking the warp in Expert 15.
  • 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 
  • This game, in general, can be much challenging than all the other Super Monkey Ball games because there are NO continues if you lose all your lives, despite that every ten bananas give you an extra life.
  • Starfish is a rainbow-colored port of 2's Reversible Gear, conveniently located IN THE SECOND WORLD. Oh, and there are no 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 (Excursion) from the first game, except harder due to the DS controls, especially on the narrow hill at the end.
  • Back Round is Expert 32 (Curvature) from the first game. While the very thinnest section was nerfed, the next thinnest section is still hard on its own, especially with DS controls.
  • Some of the ported stages in World 9 (Big Bang Boom) have become more devious due to some minor changes added to those stages. This includes: Armada (Flock but faster), Pendulum (Momentum but slightly faster), Wheel of Fortune (Polar, unchanged but still hard on its own), and Starlight Express (Spiral Hard but the goal is sideways).
  • Revolution consists of several platforms that are orbiting around a ring like a Ferris wheel, with every other platform orbiting in the other direction. The problem is there's lots of camera screw at play. Combined with some of the platforms being skinny, this level can drain lives quickly.
  • Sieve Track is a port of Expert 21 from the first game, but with more erratic and faster movement.
  • 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. Touch And Roll's complete lack of a minimap doesn't help matters either.
  • 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.

    Adventure 
  • 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. You also only have 60 seconds to clear the level, so very often you will hear "Hurry Up!" as you are nearing the goal. Oh, and there's a very similar level in the PSP Exclusive mode called Corkscrew.
  • 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. The worst part? This stage is just before the halfway point in Advanced.
  • 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.
  • Gravity Wells, the penultimate stage of Advanced, is more or less a Luck-Based Mission thanks to how wonky this game's physics work. You must quickly roll around the bolls and even then it is not guaranteed you will go in the right direction. If you are too slow and cannot get out of a bowl, you may as well lose a life.
  • Squeegee is a near-exact replica of Advanced 29 (Unrest) from 1, to the point where even that game's underwater theme can potentially play on this stage, but because of how different the game's physics are compared to the first two games, the platforms are more steep this time around.
  • Gankanny, the penultimate stage of Expert and challenge mode unless you have a PSP, revolves around a grid platform that spins. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Well, there are a few problems. First, you must avoid the large cylindrical obstacles in the way. Second, the goal is not on the grid but rather floating on its own, so not only do you have to avoid obstacles, but you also have to be on one of the specific sections of the grid to reach the goal. This is especially notable because unlike other games in the series, Expert is considered by some to be easier than Advanced.
  • Ring Goal, the final stage of the Exclusive Mode for the PSP, is another Luck-Based Mission thanks to the goals moving on a ring rather quickly and you must use a launcher to reach one of the goals. Because of how fast the goals are moving, you will often miss them and you will likely run out of time as you only have 60 seconds.
  • 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. This also applies to the balloon mission of this world, as instead of simply going straight to the monkey who assigned you the Noise Factory Climb mission, you have to climb the pipes again. The worst part of it all? NO MAP.
  • The story mode also has a mission where you collect 8 balloons for Ale'wat. Navagating the hedge maze where the mission takes place can already be a somewhat tedious task, but the balloons are scattered widely and some are in tricky to reach places of the area. What really makes this mission painful, however, is that you have to bring Ale'wat each of the 8 balloons one at a time.
  • Also from the story mode, the mission where you need to turn invisible and rescue the monkeys from the dunk tanks is rather difficult due to a combination of Camera Screw, poorly placed obstacles, and the fact that hitting even one of the obstacles results in the security guard kicking you out.
  • What's more that in this game, there is no Practice Mode (Banana Blitz HD also lacks this feature, well it's basically Story Mode), so you need to beat the stages in a strict order. Also, there are no bonus stages in Adventure.

    Banana Blitz 
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly, a BOSS FIGHT makes the list. The 5th boss, Tako the octopus, will spray ink at the player and use his tentacles to try to knock off the player. There will also be waves coming every once in a while that will throw the player off course if the player does not jump over them. There are also mini octopi beside him. This boss fight can be more annoying if he splashes on you, meaning you might fall into the ocean, costing a life in that process.
    • The 7th boss fight, Yoko, controls a mesh of colored balls that have spikes on them. It takes too long to fight the boss, especially when you have to dodge the attacks. It doesn't help if you try to chase Yoko herself, meaning it can be a time waster! This is considered the hardest boss of all.
  • 9-2 has garnered infamy for being one of the few stages in the series with a 20 second time limit (at least one other stage with this low of a timer comes from Jr., not including the Rom Hacks of Super Monkey Ball 2). You have a very high chance of slipping off the long, bumpy slide as you rush for the goal.
  • 10-5, the most ANNOYING stage, consists of mostly bumpy surfaces that makes the result of jumps quite unpredictable: it is a huge obstacle in a game that requires expert precision. To add insult to injury, all versions aside from the PAL and all HD remasters have a Game-Breaking Bug that makes you fall through the solid platform just before the goal.

    3D 
  • 8-5 (Smart Ball): While most of the stages in this game are generally too easy to beat, this is the only stage that is unbeatable. This bonus stage is a pinball-like stage. You get launched to the areas by the super bumpers while trying to grab all 50 bananas within the time limit. Problem is, the platform is too steep and you may need to hit some bumpers to climb up to get more bananas. 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 might have to keep on going through the narrow paths to each super bumper, meaning you can easily run out of time. This is also the last bonus stage in this game.

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    Banana Splitz 
  • 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 Twin Cross/Checker 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.

    Banana Mania 
Super Monkey Ball
  • Downhill Hard (Expert 11) and Invasion have become even more difficult, owing to Banana Mania's physics making it harder to squeeze through tight spaces.
  • Stamina Master may have received some nerfs, such as the moving platforms being easier, but it is still a pain to get through, as you'll still have to cross the sloped wire and the platforms still move rather quickly. As you go down the spiral, you may accidentally hit the side of the goal, thanks in part to the new physics engine. Of course this stage happens to be one of the several to have its original version to appear in the Original Stage mode.
  • Edge Master is much more difficult than it was in the original, particularly due to how slopes work in the game's engine. What was once one of the easier Master stages in the original became one of the harder ones thanks to the game's physics.
Super Monkey Ball 2
  • Banana Mania's physics arguably make Spiral Bridge even harder, where the smoother level geometry makes it easier to slide off the bridge or the platform atop the end where the goal rests.
  • For similar reasons to Downhill Hard and Invasion, Sieve has also become much more difficult.
  • Pistons, already a difficult level, is made harder in this game — you no longer can breeze through the level by letting a piston launch you straight up and then steering yourself towards the goal, as you now go out of bounds well before you land.
  • Soft Cream is another level that became more difficult thanks to the new engine. Much like Spiral Bridge, the physics make this once challenging but still fairly straightforward level a nightmare.
Special Mode
  • The entire Original Stage mode is full of horrors from the original games in their unmodified state. However, an exception comes from Catwalk. While already tough in the original, this one is even worse due to a lack of invisible guardrails to keep the ball in line, making what was originally a beginner stage into one harder than most expert stages due to the precision now required to traverse these catwalks. It’s so hard that it’s easier to try and charge the skinnier catwalk in hopes of cheesing the stage. And this is the first stage in the mode.
  • Exam-C had its timer extended from 60 seconds to 90 seconds... but only in Challenge Mode. In Original Stage mode, it is one of several stages to appear and it keeps the original timer this time. You are pretty much forced to rush through the last wire section as you'll hardly have any time to spare.
  • This game's version of Air Hockey has its goal move much slower than in the original, making it much easier. The same cannot be said for Original Stage mode, where the goal moves at the same speed as the original, if not faster, turning this level into a Luck-Based Mission.
  • Twin Basin is normally a perfectly manageable stage late in SMB2's expert mode. This is not the case in the stage's appearance as the eighth Dark Banana Mode stage. The two half-pipe rings are chock-full of insta-kill dark bananas, forcing the player to get around them. The first ring has the bananas in the inner part, forcing the monkey to roll on the outside part of the pipe with enough speed to get out of the ring. The second ring is a different story, with the bananas scattered all over it in a different shape. Which means you have to quickly move around the dark bananas. You could move across the ring at a quick speed, but you may risk running into a dark banana on the goal platform, forcing you to start the stage over again. And prepare to hear "Game Over!" plenty of times, which you likely will.
  • Remember Strata under the Super Monkey Ball 2 Folder? Well, this stage is in Golden Banana Mode, and there are bananas located on the thinnest path at the bottom of the level.
    • Golden Banana Mode in general is extremely tedious, since half of the stages are mazes: Dungeon, Dodge Maze, Chaos, Flat Maze, and Crazy Maze. And there's bananas all over them. It's telling that some level time limits go up to three minutes.

    Rom Hacks 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/102cylinders.png
Yeah, great idea, it's not like both of these were already hard enough on their own.
  • With custom levels being made since 2016, it is to be expected that the fans have made levels that rival or even surpass some of the more infamous stages in the franchise.
NGUU 1
  • Beginner 6 (Crossing) is basically a demake of Expert 15 from Jr., which was already considered a difficult level in that game. The platforms you have to cross diagonally are small and after that you have to cross a thin platforms to reach the goal. This serves as a contributing factor to this hack's notorious Schizophrenic Difficulty as this stage is conveniently located in BEGINNER MODE.
NGUU 3
  • World 3-9/Advanced 32 (Hairpins) closely resembles the stage of the same name from Adventure, which wasn't much of a threat on its own aside from its length. This isn't necessarily a good thing, as there is a discrepancy between the physics of 2 and Adventure. As a result, this stage is much more steep and there is no way to take a shortcut unlike the stage it replicates, thus requiring diagonal knowledge. Fortunately, at least the second half of the stage is more manageable. It is quite telling that there is a 75 second timer as this stage will take a while to complete.
  • Expect a controller or two to be kneed in half with World 8-4/Expert 46 (Pentagram). The stage is a star with the goal behind four walls on one side, and platforms with switches on the other four. The five platforms with the goal/switches are separated from the star because there's also a ring of bumpers orbiting around the star. It's not the bumpers that are necessarily a problem, and getting onto the platforms with switches isn't too bad, but transferring back onto the star is prone to random fall-outs due to, more of less, needing to roll directly onto a corner. It doesn't help that the platforms with switches are quite small. And you need to do this four times.
Monkeyed Ball/Monkeyed Ball 2: Witty Subtitle
  • World 5-4 (Galaxy) consists of rings of varying sizes and elevations orbiting all over the place. The goal is on one of them, making beating the level more or less trial and error. Unfortunately, this was one of the few stages in Monkeyed Ball that not only came back for Monkeyed Ball 2, but also got put into challenge mode (as Expert 43), ready for another round of hair-yanking frustration. (Luckily, it can be skipped with the warp goals in the previous level, Blind Bounce.)
  • Expert Extra 9 (Boomerang) is your typical rail stage... except certain sections of both of the rails are removed. You have to transfer from one rail to the next in certain spots. If you get caught between the rails, you're already doomed.
  • Master 2 (Faith) is Free Fall on steroids. What really makes this stage nasty is that the bright, white platforms blend in too much with the light yellow sky.
  • Master Extra 10 (Oh, Screw This!) is essentially what happens when you combine Bridge Master from 1 and Invisible from 2 and make it a Marathon Level.
Super Monkey Ball 651
  • World 6-5 (Steps). Remember the ledge you need to climb from an angle in Labyrinth from Super Monkey Ball 2? Picture that three times in a row.
  • World 8-4 (Overcorrection). Think of Cliff from Deluxe, except certain parts of the wall are removed and it gradually gets skinnier. It's too easy for the edges of the wall to bump you off to the right, or for you to lean too much to the left upon leaving the walls and slip off to the left. Hilariously, there's also more blue goals that involves doing the exact same bridge up to four more times in a row.
  • World 8-6 (Jumpscare) requires you to slowly cross a platform that gets thinner without hitting the wall, which by the way has bounce pads. This is one of the first hacks to introduce bounce pads, and these happen to line up the wall you are trying to avoid hitting. It gets harder as you get closer to the end, as you have to roll along the edge of the platform without getting too close to the wall. Depending on how you play it, there's also Camera Screw.
  • World 9-10, (Technique), consists of a platform slowly "climbing" a tower by flipping on its side in 90 degree increments. The problem is the player also needs to remain on this platform in each rotation, so the player is expected to be flung in the air, land and balance on the side of the platform, then transfer to the underside much like Nintnedo, and do it three more times.
  • World 10 in its entirety, but some of the standouts are World 10-4 (Birds), World 10-5 (Unlock), and 10-6 (Frame Windows).
Super Monkey Ball Gaiden
  • World 4-8 (Turbine) is the first Marathon Level of many Gaiden has to offer. It's a collectathon level where you have to go down to switches on various levels, while the level's namesake spins platforms to interrupt the player. While falling off the stage leads to a lower platform where you can retry, it's also a long level, so the "retry" might not be enough time to finish the level. It's possible to cheese the level by letting the spinning platforms carry you to the switches instead of going through the obstacles to make things easier.
  • World 5-1 (Dragonfly) serves as a roadblock to some players due to being Guide Dang It! affair. It requires you to get enough speed to enter the wormhole that takes you to the goal, as going through the wormhole as normal won't give you enough speed. However, this requires you to use outside tactics instead of just rolling straight into the second wormhole, meaning you have to go off the slope after entering the first wormhole a couple times without going too fast.
  • World 6-1 (Tripwire) is a buffed version of Giant Comb: It consists of two near-circles, one larger than the other. However, there's a fast spinning wall, and the only way to advance past it is to bounce off of the bouncepads in the inside of these circles. The problem is you have to do this multiple times per ring, and the disparity between the speed you're going at and when the spinning wall comes into view causes the timing window to make it past the spinning wall to be much tighter than it looks. It's generally agreed that none of the other World 6 stages are as hard as this one.
  • World 7-5 (Phantasm) stands out for how difficult it is compared to many of the stages you have played at this point in Story Mode. Most of the stage is invisible, like Invisible from 2, but rather than having leftover sections guide you, the bananas guide you. This is easier said than done, because each time you collect a banana you will have less bananas to help guide you. Worse still, there are two sections and you have to backtrack once you hit a switch. The second half of the stage is the most difficult part, as you have to deal with moving platforms, especially right before you hit the second switch.
  • World 8-1 (Lock On) is all of the inertia troubles of Polar and Spiral Bridge turned into an Exam stage. The entire stage (except for the starting platform) is constantly spinning, and there are three really hard bits: The first is to transfer from the main body of the stage to a series of yellow platforms that are spinning in the opposite direction. The second is to make the same transfer but from the yellow platforms to the outer part of the main body of the stage, which also happens to have walls that can accidentally knock you off. The third and most difficult part of the stage is to go down a slide that get skinnier which is located near the outer-most part of the stage, right where the inertia is at its strongest. Diagonal knowledge will be necessary to have a chance at passing this stage.
  • World ?-? (Enigma) is less of a level and more of a puzzle that locks the player away from the rest of the master levels. While there are various hints in the level on what to do, the only obvious one, a QR Code set precariously in the background, takes you to a rickroll. The eerie atmosphere and the sheer surprise of a puzzle make it one of the most notable levels in the hack.
  • The extra stages are without a doubt the ultimate test of skill. It would be hard to pick just one. Of course the extra stages seem to take place in Hell so that should be enough of a sign...
Community Pack stages and other notable examples
  • No Tech Zone by RMac524 doesn't seem too bad as you have to fall onto different platforms... until you get to the very end. The goal is nowhere in sight as it is floating in the abyss beneath the large platform. Because of this, finding the right hole to fall into the goal is essentially a guessing game as it's not always guaranteed to get into the goal. While it can be done in as many tries as you can in the original Community Pack, it appears as Expert 50 in Community Pack 1.5, making it likely for players to have their runs to Master end thanks to Trial-and-Error Gameplay.
  • The original version of Holey Mountain by PseudonymousBN is a nightmare to deal with and was one of the more notable stages in the early days of Super Monkey Ball hacking. The gaps you have to cross are almost too long and you have to go over them with perfect timing, and you also have to cross thin curves as well. There is also a bumper than can knock you off after you made the first jump. Thankfully, this stage was nerfed in a later version.
  • Baffling Balcony by Prof. Raine from RE: Encore, is a level that requires a edge clip to jump up to a higher platform. Since edge clipping is a piece of speedrun tech, most players don't understand how to beat it, and when they do, don't think they beat it correctly.

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