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Video Game / Super Monkey Ball

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The four main monkeys from the Gamecube era.

I really love bananas!

Super Monkey Ball is a series of arcade-style platform games created by Sega's Amusement Vision division. Though dating back to an Arcade Game running on the Sega Dreamcast-like NAOMI hardware, Super Monkey Ball was Sega's first major franchise to bypass their own consoles entirely. The gameplay is similar to the famous Marble Madness arcade game, with one important difference: MONKEYS! Oh, and 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. Oh, and 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.

Not to be confused with Monkey Bone.

The list of Super Monkey Ball games is as follows:

  • Monkey Ball (The arcade game that started it all. Used a banana-shaped control stick and introduced AiAi, MeeMee, and Baby as characters.)
  • Super Monkey Ball (A Nintendo GameCube remake of Monkey Ball. Introduced Party Mode and GonGon as a character.)
  • Super Monkey Ball 2 (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 (A remake of Super Monkey Ball and its sequel, for PS2 and Xbox. It also featured a number of original levels as well as adding brand new levels exclusive to the game.)
  • Super Monkey Ball Jr. (The first mobile version, it featured full 3D graphics...on the Game Boy Advance.)
  • Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll (Another attempt at a mobile Monkey Ball, this one on the Nintendo DS. Received mixed reviews.)
  • Super Monkey Ball Adventure (A poorly-received adventure game with less emphasis on the party and regular modes.)
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (A Wii 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. A HD remaster was announced in 2019 for Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. Oh, and Sonic the Hedgehog acts as a cameo playable character.)
  • Super Monkey Ball iPhone (retains the look and motion controls of Banana Blitz, using the iPhone's tilt motions. It's gotten mixed reviews.)
  • Super Monkey Ball Step and Roll (Another Wii game, using the Balance Board this time. Introduced Jam as a character.)
  • Super Monkey Ball 3DS (Introduced Jet as a character.)
  • Super Monkey Ball: Ticket Blitz (Another arcade game. Used a trackball for the controls.)
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz (A title for the Playstation Vita. You were able to create your own stages by taking pictures of, well, whatever you wanted.)
  • Super Monkey Ball Bounce (iOS and Android)

These games provides examples of:

  • 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!..."
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Every boss in Banana Blitz. Notable is the final boss, which you attack its butt to damage it.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space / Super Not-Drowning Skills: Normally justified since the monkey you play as is in a plastic ball, but 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.
  • 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) 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.
  • 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.
  • Camera Screw: In most game, the camera follows the direction the monkey's rolling, which is great in some stages, and makes others almost impossible without very precise control over your ball.
  • 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
  • Continuing Is Painful: To reach the extra stages in 1 & 2, you need to make it through all the stages without a continue.note  Turned Up to Eleven 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.
  • 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.
  • Developers' Foresight: In 2, every world had it's own textures for bumpers and warp goals, even if most worlds don't feature them. 1 also features a few unused warp goals.
  • Difficulty Spike: Happens in every game.
    • The first game had a giant difficulty spike between Advanced and Expert, Advanced was easy, while many people would get stuck quickly on Expert mode. The same goes for Banana Splitz and it's Expert stages (renamed Advanced).
    • In 1 and Deluxe, the game goes lightly on you with Dodecagonnote , but goes really rough on you with the very next level. The level after is much easier, but the one after that isn't.
    • Step and Roll had a giant spike between worlds 6 and 7. World 6 had a lot of easy stages that aren't too hard, but World 7 is much more challenging.
    • 2 ramps it up on Pistons and decides to go nuts once you hit Expert Extra, with levels like Conical Slider.
      • The difficulty spike happens well before that. Reversible Gear, anybody? World 4 in its entirety? Conical Slider is to be expected since to get to it, you have to go through Expert mode (essentially worlds 5-9) with no continues, so it will likely be among the last levels you will ever see in the game if you continued.
      • Speaking of Reversible Gear, it's in Touch & Roll under the name Starfish. It's found in World 2.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Doctor, because of his amnesia.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The games are pretty much Marble Madness in 3D with monkeys.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Game Mod: It's possible, but not easy, to make custom levels and even custom backdrops for the Gamecube releases. There's a lot of romhacks for 2, but the most popular is Monkeyed Ball, a romhack of 2 with completely different story levels and worlds, which is regarded well enough to get in SDGQ 2018.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The title screen for Touch & Roll features AiAi bent over with his *ahem* bum-bum showing. Underneath AiAi are the words "Touch me."
  • 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.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • In 2 there's Switch Inferno 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.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Averted. While several stages have fences that are just tall enough that you can't roll over them, there's usually nothing's stopping a clever player from gaining some speed, pinging off a bit of geometry, and hopping over it, even if that's harder than just doing the level the intended way.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: AiAi falls under this in Banana Blitz. Earlier, he fit the role in 2's reworked bowling minigame.
  • Law Of 100:
    • An extra life is given for every 100 bananas collected in most games. Deluxe would instead increase the number of lives you could start Challenge Mode with.
    • Banana Blitz and Banana Splitz each have 100 stages in the main game.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Played straight in Adventure, with over 30 characters to pick from in minigames. Downplayed in 3D's Fight and Race, which has 16 characters to play as.
  • 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.
  • 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.).
  • 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.
  • Official Couple: AiAi and MeeMee are destined for each other, considering Baby is apparently their future son.
  • Product Placement:
  • 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.
  • Scenery Porn: Up to Eleven 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, 2 with some new levels. It's Story Mode will still have Beginner levels appear into World 4 while 1's Expert levels don't appear until World 6. As for it's Challenge mode, every ten levels switches off from 1's levels to 2's, creating odd situations where Exam-A comes before Simple.
  • 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.
  • Speaking Simlish: The dialogue in the cutscenes of story mode in 2 and Deluxe for example.
  • 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 vs. 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.
  • Time Travel: Banana Splitz features this. Appropriately, the goals in it feature a prominent stopwatch pattern.
  • Timed Mission: Most levels have a 60-second time limit. At present, the limit has ranged from two minutes to 20 seconds.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: MeeMee and YanYan.
  • Video Game Settings: note 
  • 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.



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