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Magical Spell is Ei-Ei-Poo!

I really love bananas!

Super Monkey Ball is a series of arcade-style platform games created by Sega's Amusement Vision division (now known as Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio). Though dating back to an Arcade Game running on the Dreamcast-like NAOMI hardware, Super Monkey Ball was ironically Sega's first major franchise to debut after they left the console business, first landing on the Nintendo GameCube instead. The gameplay is similar to the famous Marble Madness arcade game, with one important difference: MONKEYS! As well as something about tilting the world instead of having direct control of your character. But mostly monkeys.

As mentioned above, the setup is quite similar to Marble Madness, with the player tilting their monkey character through a series of themed worlds. The game's challenge is in the fact that the vast majority of levels have no walls, forcing the player to avoid falling off the edges of the floor. A majority of levels feel like they were designed by an insane physics professor.

The series is known for both its cutesy look and the fact that it's essentially the definition of Surprise Difficulty. Think we're joking? Let's just say that you will never think of the phrase "Fall Out!" in quite the same way ever again.

That's not all, however: Monkey Ball games are known for their famous "party mode," consisting of several mini-games. Said mini-games were very well-done on the GCN versions. The Wii version... more hit or miss, with the developers experimenting with a range of control schemes for the then-new Wiimote.

Monkey Ball makes appearances in all four Sega Superstars games; Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is particularly notorious for the Monkey Ball tracks having the same difficulty as the series they're based on.

The list of Super Monkey Ball games is as follows:

  • Monkey Ball (2001, Arcade): The arcade game that started it all. Used a banana-shaped control stick and introduced AiAi, MeeMee, and Baby as characters.
  • Super Monkey Ball (2001, Nintendo GameCube): A remake of Monkey Ball. Introduced Party Mode and GonGon as a character.
  • Super Monkey Ball Jr. (2002, Game Boy Advance): The first handheld installment, ambitiously retaining full 3D graphics.
  • Super Monkey Ball 2 (2002, GameCube): Obviously, the sequel to Super Monkey Ball. Introducted Dr. Bad-Boon, but he wasn't a playable character and more a central antagonist for the game's Story Mode.
  • Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (2005, PlayStation 2, Xbox): A remake of Super Monkey Ball and its sequel. It also featured a number of original levels as well as adding brand new levels exclusive to the game.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll (2005, Nintendo DS): Another attempt at a handheld Monkey Ball.
  • Super Monkey Ball Adventure (2006, GameCube, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable): An adventure game with less emphasis on the party and regular modes.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (2006, Wii): A launch title, Banana Blitz featured a new cel-shaded look, motion controls, and tons upon tons of party games. Introduced Doctor and Yanyan as characters. Received an HD remaster in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC, where Sonic the Hedgehog is a playable character.
  • Super Monkey Ball iPhone (2008): Retains the look and motion controls of Banana Blitz, using the iPhone's tilt motions.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll (2008, Wii): Uses the Balance Board this time. Introduced Jam as a character.
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D (2011, Nintendo 3DS): A launch title outside Japan. Introduced Jet as a character.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Ticket Blitz (Arcade): Used a trackball for the controls.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz (2012, Play Station Vita): Included the ability to create stages by taking pictures using the Vita's camera.
  • Super Monkey Ball Bounce (2014, Mobile): Plays similarly to Peggle.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania (2021, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC): (A Video Game Remake of Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2, and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe with the art style and characters of the modern games. Features Sonic as a guest character again, alongside new guest characters, including Tails, Kazuma Kiryu from Like a Dragon, and Morgana from Persona 5.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Rumble (2024, Nintendo Switch): The first new installment in 10 years, this game introduces the Spin Dash mechanic and new competitive online and local multiplayer modes.

These games provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Banana Mania adds Yanyan and Doctor to the first two games and Deluxe when they wouldn't debut in the series until 2006, with the release of Banana Blitz- five years following the first Super Monkey Ball, four after its sequel and one year after Deluxe.
    • The same goes with Jam and Jet who didn't debut in the series until Step and Roll in 2010 and 3D in 2011, respectively.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the official Japanese website for the first game, the monkeys discover a special chant that encapsules them in plastic balls so they can 'safely' travel through many obstacle courses to reach the mythical Banana Sanctuary, which is seen after clearing all of the floors in challenge mode. Banana Sanctuary was also implied to house the infamously dreaded Master Stages.
  • Announcer Chatter: "FALL OUT! FALL OUT! FALL OUT! CONTINUE? FALL OUT!..."
  • Arrange Mode: Banana Mania has a ton of these that you can unlock with points.
    • "Golden Banana Mode" is a mode where you must collect every single banana in a stage to beat it.
    • "Dark Banana Mode" is the inverse of the above, where you must reach the goal without touching any bananas.
    • "Original Stage Mode" allows you to play the original versions of stages that were Nerfed for Banana Mania.
    • "Reverse Mode" has you playing stages where the level start and goal have been switched.
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the minigame award ceremonies that is in space/underwater (depending if the minigame takes place there or not), the monkeys are seen outside their balls and are completely unaffected by the lack of air and gravity.
  • Astral Finale: 2 ends with Dr. Bad-Boon escaping to space in order to fire off a laser that makes changes the taste buds of anyone hit by it to only taste curry when eating bananas. AiAi and friends chase him up there and decide to destroy it.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Every boss in Banana Blitz. Notable is the final boss, which you attack its butt to damage it.
  • Bare-Bottomed Monkey:
    • Most of the cast, being designed after the Japanese macaque, have this feature. It's not given much attention save for instances mentioned under Joke of the Butt below.
    • Captain Crabuchin's only weak point is his big red glowing buttocks.
  • Battleship Raid: The final Advanced stage in Banana Splitz takes place on an alien mothership.
  • Battle Tops: An early stage of Super Monkey Ball 2 is called Spinning Top. The sole obstacle in this stage is a humongous top that knocks the monkey completely off the stage if touched due to its spinning. The goal is located dangerously close to where it spins, and 1-up yielding bananas are hung from its edge.
  • Bizarre Puzzle Game: A platforming game where you can't jump (except in Banana Blitz note ) and have to roll a ball from one point to another. Those balls, however, have monkeys inside of them.
  • Bonus Stage: A staple for the series. It happens every 10 floors (Or just on Floor 5 if played on Beginner), bar the Extra and Master stages. Super Monkey Ball Adventure is the only game to not feature the bonus stages.
  • Bonus Level of Heaven: Banana Sanctuary and Ultra Heaven in 1 and Banana Blitz respectively. However, they both harbor some of the hardest stages in the series. Jr. inverts this, as its Master stages instead opt for a wavy fire as the background.
  • Bottomless Pits: While not technically bottomless, the levels are basically floating in one.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Ale'wat in Super Monkey Ball Adventure. He demands you get him balloons.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Happens in most games.
    • The original games had "Extra" stages that you could get if you beat the normal stages without using a continue, as well as "Master" stages that required you to beat Expert Extra without using a continue.
    • Banana Blitz had a similar concept - beating all eight main worlds without using a continue unlocks World 9, and beating that unlocked World 10.
    • Splitz combines the two. Beating Advanced (equivalent to Expert from earlier games) unlocks Master, but its difficulty makes up for not having to avoid continues or play extra stages.
  • Camera Abuse: In the first Super Monkey Ball's "Monkey Fight" minigame, you can punch the camera if you won the round.
  • Cel Shading: This started in Banana Blitz and has been used onward.
  • Charged Attack: The multiplayer, sumo-like minigame "Monkey Fight" lets you get by with little rabbit punches or charged up massive blows.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: This has been used since Super Monkey Ball onward, with Player 1's ball either being red (for the mini and party games) or green (for the main game on all levels). In Super Monkey Ball 2, you still stay green in the main game but in Monkey Race (Among others), you're still red (P1), blue (P2) yellow (P3) or green (P4). The computer players are cyan, pink, orange, purple, teal, grey, white, or black among other colors.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Monkey Race 2 from 2 adds a starting boost that wasn't available in the first game. The problem is, the game NEVER tells you how to pull it off (Hold back the control stick during the countdown, and push it upward right before it says "GO!"), and ALL of the computer opponents pull it off perfectly every time.
  • Console Cameo
    • In Challenge Mode of Super Monkey Ball 2, the final level in Master Extra takes place on a rotating GameCube. Deluxe changed it into into a six-sided die. Sadly, the original version does not return for the Switch release of Banana Mania.
    • DLC for Banana Mania includes a pack where assorted Sega consoles become playable characters.
  • Continuing is Painful: To reach the extra stages in 1 & 2, you need to make it through all the stages without a continue.note  Exaggerated if you want to unlock the Master Stages, which requires you to beat all 50 Expert Stages, AND the 10 Expert Extra Stages to reach them! This is especially painful in the original, since you only have 3 lives.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • The final level in Story Mode in 2 and Deluxe features the AV logo. A recurring Extra level in the first game does, too. Both had to be changed in Banana Mania as Amusement Visions had since been dismantled and rebranded.
    • Many of the games feature at least one level played on the SEGA logo.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: In the first game, many floors that show up in one difficulty level get turned up a notch on a higher difficulty level. Some examples include each of the Floor 1s, Beginner 10/Advanced 17/Expert 7/Master 3, and the spinning goal levels in the Extra floors.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In Banana Blitz there is a boss called Tako the Octopus. Tako means octopus in Japanese, so going by its boss name, it's Octopus the Octopus. Actually, it's official name is Octopocus, but that doesn't help much.
  • Developer's Foresight: In 2, every world had its own textures for bumpers and warp goals, even if most worlds don't feature them. 1 also features a few unused warp goals.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The original Monkey Ball and its Updated Re-release as the first Super Monkey Ball, is an arcade game at heart, and uses a level of abstract yet extreme challenge, skipping stages with bonus goals and other design elements the rest of the series either doesn't use again or keep solely for authenticity to their levels. 2 would refine and contextualize a fair amount of things as well as rework the difficulty and course designs. The Super version of the first game also has GonGon be an antagonist, who explicitly gets locked out of the Banana Sanctuary at the end of each of his Main Game runs as Laser-Guided Karma for his Greed; every game from 2 onwards would make him just another one of the heroes.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Doctor, because of his amnesia.
  • Excuse Plot: From 2 onwards, there's something of a plot, but good luck making sense of it beyond "Dr. Bad-Boon is a Jerkass that stole everyone's bananas and wants to marry MeeMee." Given the franchise's arcade origins, though, you're probably not here for the story, and not even Adventure, the one game that actually tries to be a bit more of a traditional platformer, can be arsed to cook much of one up.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Downplayed. In Super Monkey Ball 2, the crew and Dr. Bad-Boon get swallowed up by a gigantic whale, and spend Chapter 4 trying to escape. The Monster Whale is so big the level shows people living carefree inside it.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Depending on the game, after you clear a stage and your character flies up into the air you can see the layout of the next stage from the underside. Short enough to give you an idea of what's ahead but not actually map it out before you start, and some stages simply can't be scrutinized via stacking their layout overhead.
  • Floating Platforms: Almost all of the levels are suspended above a chasm without any support.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • Stage 5 of Ultra Heaven, considered the hardest level in Banana Blitz, also happens to come with a glitch in which you can fall right through a solid platform near the end. Luckily, this was fixed for the PAL version along with the HD remaster.
    • A bigger case occurs with Adventure. Sometimes, while loading up or while you're minding your own business in Monkey Cannon, a Syntax Error occurs for unexplained reasons.
    • In 2, the game sometimes crashes at World 9 if you play without stopping.
  • Ghost Leg Lottery: In Super Monkey Ball 2, the seventh level in the Advanced-Extra difficulty is named "Amida Lot" and features an Amidakuji-like floor. The player must travel along the legs toward the moving goal without hitting any of the bumpers, which will knock them off their path.
  • Guest Fighter:
    • Banana Blitz HD adds Sonic the Hedgehog as an hidden playable character. He has, naturally, the fastest speed and bounce and all bananas in the level turn into rings.
    • Alongside Sonic's return in Banana Mania is Tails (also turns bananas into rings), Beat (turns all bananas into spray paint cans), and Kazuma Kiryu (turns bananas into Stamina X bottles). Paid DLC also includes Morgana (turns bananas into treasure chests), Hello Kitty (turns bananas into apples), Suezo (turns bananas into discs), the Game Gear, Sega Saturn, and Sega Dreamcast.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • In 2 there's Switch Inferno, Obstacle, and most of World 10.
    • There's the infamous hidden bananas in Banana Blitz, for which said guide hasn't even been finished yet since they're invisible.
    • Most of the new maze-like levels from Deluxe fit this as well.
  • Jack of All Stats: AiAi falls under this in Banana Blitz. Earlier, he fit the role in 2's reworked bowling minigame.
  • Joke of the Butt:
    • The title screen for Touch & Roll features AiAi Shaking the Rump at the player, who is then actually prompted to touch his butt with the stylus in order to progress to the rest of the game.
    • Captain Crabuchin, the Big Bad of Banana Blitz, can only be damaged by striking him in the bottom.
    • The whole point of Sumo Smash, a minigame included in Step & Roll, is using your butt to force an opponent out of a ring a la Sumo Wrestling. note 
  • Konami Code: Inputting it in Super Monkey Ball Jr. will get the response of "Super Nice Try".
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Everything past the Gamecube era of the series, from Adventure and particularly Banana Blitz onwards, barely resembles the original games besides "monkeys in magic balls roll around on courses". Most stages became more motion control focused, resulting in plenty of guard rails and more blocky, linear designs that are focused around imprecise movement, while the creative and insane, physics-exploiting ideas of the originals mostly disappeared besides the occasional release like Banana Splitz. To give an idea of how weird things got, not only was a more standard jump added to the player moveset, but the series suddenly had dedicated boss fights.
  • Law Of 100:
    • An extra life is given for every 100 bananas collected in most games.
    • Banana Blitz and Banana Splitz each have 100 stages in the main game.
  • Love Triangle: MeeMee and YanYan both have a crush on AiAi. But YanYan has an even bigger crush on him compared to MeeMee.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Reviews mainly criticize the PS2 version of Deluxe for this.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The title theme of Banana Blitz goes on for 2 min 18 seconds with multiple different sections alternating with the chorus in rondo fashion. However, players in-game will only get to hear the first 28 seconds of it because it would then cut to a demo of the game.
  • Mad Marble Maze: The game is basically Marble Madness but with monkeys, so this is to be expected.
  • Marathon Level:
    • Ultimate mode in Deluxe. It runs you through all three hundred stages of Challenge Mode in one sitting. Good thing there are Save Points.
    • Step and Roll features the aptly-named Marathon mode, which does something similar, but with worlds 1-3, 4-6, or 1-6.
  • Mickey Mousing:
    • Organic Form in 2 and Deluxe appears to be doing this to Under The Ocean. Deluxe removes this behavior in Challenge Mode due to changing its background to Amusement Park.
    • Some stages in Banana Splitz go with the level's theme (Dinosaur, Wild West, Outer Space, etc.).
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics:
    • Super Monkey Ball 2 reuses assets from the first game.
    • Banana Blitz HD reuses the models from the original Wii version, while Sonic's character model is ripped straight from Sonic Generations. Likewise, Banana Mania was built off of Banana Blitz HD, meaning the character models are the same. Tails' model was also ripped from Sonic Generations.
  • Nintendo Hard: It looks cutesy, but then... Fall out! And again, and again... In fact this game is quite known on how absurdly brutal is towards the player, not even counting the extra challenges that requires beating the game without using continues. Meanwhile, the various party games that support the AI are notoriously cracked out, as anyone attempting to win Monkey Race can attest with the perfect starting boosts, tighter corner turns than yours and a distinct lack of Rubberband AI in the sense that they will not slow down for your sake.
  • Official Couple: AiAi and MeeMee are destined for each other, considering Baby is apparently their future son. The bios for Banana Mania retcon this slightly so that they are already a married couple and Baby is apparently no longer time displaced.
  • Photo Mode: An orbit camera with a few frames is included in Banana Mania.
  • Pokémon Speak: The monkeys aren't limited to it, but at the very least you can frequently hear AiAi and MeeMee saying "Monkey!" (and even its Japanese equivalent, "Ukiki!" or just "Uki!").
  • Product Placement:
  • Production Throwback:
    • The statues in the background of the "Storm" stage in the original game depict various enemies from Slashout, whose designer also worked on Super Monkey Ball.
    • Kazuma Kiryu's Guest Fighter appearance in Banana Mania, as the game was developed by Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, developers of the Like a Dragon franchise. This makes for a funny wrap-around since Ryu ga Gotoku Studio is the current form of Amusement Vision, the studio that developed Super Monkey Ball.
  • Remixed Level: Happens quite a number of times, especially in 1 and Banana Splitz, so much that it deserves it's own page. See Cut and Paste Environments for more details.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: Because of licensing issues, Sega had to replace almost all of Banana Blitz's music tracksnote  for the game's HD release.
  • Scenery Porn: Exaggerated in 2, with pretty much every single location in the game has intricate details, even where you normally can't see the scenery! World 8 is a pretty good example of this. Considering that Amusement Vision worked on F-Zero GX after 2, it's no surprise.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: While minor difficulty spikes occur normally, Deluxe throws it for a loop thanks to combining the levels from 1 and 2 with some new levels. Its Story Mode will still have Beginner levels appear into World 3 while 1's Expert levels don't appear until World 6. As for its Challenge mode, every 5 or 10 levels would alternate between 1's levels and 2's, with some of Deluxe's original stages thrown in as well, which can result in an inconsistent difficulty curve. This creates some odd situations where a stage like "Exam-C" (a long level with thin wires and a diagonal block section) is played before "Wormhole" (the first stage of 2's Expert mode).
  • Score Multiplier: Completing a level in under half the allotted time would double the bonus from remaining time in 1, 2, Deluxe, and Adventure. In addition, warp goals stack with this multiplier - the number of levels you skip, the bigger the multiplier.
  • Shaking the Rump: Multiple characters, namely AiAi and MeeMee, do this in certain victory dances for humor.
  • Speaking Simlish: The dialogue in the cutscenes of story mode in 2 and Deluxe consists mainly of this with subtitles, though reversing Dr. Bad-Boon's voice clips reveals that he's actually saying his lines, just backwards.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Advanced 11 in 1 (Advanced 9 in Deluxe) contains a wall that gradually rises and blocks the paths to the goals after about 15 seconds.
  • Swamps Are Evil: We don't know much about Sinking Swamp from Banana Blitz, but its stages are more than enough to drive you insane.
  • Technician Versus Performer: In terms of level design, the original Super Monkey Ball floors would fall under the "Technician" category, as they're mostly small, but require balance, precise movements and analysis of level patterns to maneuver skillfully. Super Monkey Ball 2 is more "Performer," with the stages still calling for balance and a good sense of strategy, but being larger and featuring all sorts of moving parts and designs pulled straight out of a giant, abstract sculpture exhibit. Not to mention lots of opportunities to build up speed and pull off cool stunts!
    • Though this is subverted with the Master stages. Super Monkey Ball has them based around a certain theme, while they just go along with the backdrop in 2.
  • Timed Mission: Most levels have a 60-second time limit. At present, the limit has ranged from two minutes to 20 seconds.
  • Updated Re-release: In a sense, Super Monkey Ball to the original arcade Monkey Ball as a home port. Besides the leap from the NAOMI hardware (effectively a Sega Dreamcast) to the Gamecube allowing for more graphical effects, generally all the courses and the gameplay are nigh-identical beyond totally new aesthetics across the board where the original game was fairly generic floating checkerboard platforms in the sky. The biggest additions mainly boil down to all the extra party and minigames, and GonGon being added as a playable monkey to round out for four controller slots with multiplayer.
  • Video Game Remake: Banana Mania is a Megamix Game that includes every stage from Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2, and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe remade in the modern art style with an updated physics engine. The game also includes a collection of party games from across the series.
  • Wacky Racing: The Monkey Race minigame. It's basically Mario Kart inside hamster balls.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Adventure, AiAi gives one to the kings of Monkitropolis and Kongri-la about how their beliefs of so-called "monsters" messed with not only their own cities, but also the happiness of their children.
  • Wreaking Havok: An inverted example. All of the physics in the Story mode affect the player, and the player alone. Add in the fact that the Conservation of Energy is coded into the physics system, and you can fling yourself rather far using nothing but momentum and an Insurmountable Waist-High Fence.