Super Monkey Ball 2
Now this is how you do Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone.
When Apple launched the App store in 2007, Sega was right there with Super Monkey Ball, a game where you tilt the iPhone to guide a monkey (inside a ball) to a goal while avoiding hazards and collecting bananas to score extra lives. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, the game's horrible controls had us ready to throw our phones into the nearest wall. Not so with Super Monkey Ball 2. The superior sequel, which came out of nowhere, isn't nearly as sensitive and therefore, significantly more enjoyable.
In a sense, SMB 2 feels like a redo. It follows the same concept, as players physically maneuver their iPhone's to complete a series of stages (over 115), except the controls are a lot tighter. Both the chosen monkey (there are four- AiAi, MeeMee, Baby and GonGon) and the ball are in 3-D, and it's much easier speeding up (tilting forward) stopping (quickly tilting backward) and turning. It still doesn't replace using an analog stick, but compared to the original iPhone App, Super Monkey Ball 2 is a revelation.
Of course, you can expect all new levels to explore. Throughout your journey, the monkeys will visit a series of locales, from lush and green platforms suspended in midair, to underwater pirate ships. All of these levels vary, forcing you to navigate the monkey down spirals, along narrow pathways and past pinball style bumpers that, when touched, shoot the monkey off the stage to its doom. We easily breezed through the first 20 stages, but that was because we neglected to pick up bananas along the way, so if you stop to snag all of those (grabbing ten equals an extra life), expect to either run out of time or make plenty of mistakes.
In addition to the main game, you also receive Monkey Bowling, ten frames of finger flicking goodness where you compete, against the computer or with friends, to knock down pins (Sega will release Monkey Golf and Monkey Target early next year). Finally, there's an option to enjoy those 115 plus stages with up to three friends via local Wi-Fi, but we haven't been able to test it.
On the downside, you can forget about playing this game while in transit. Although Sega made improvements to the gameplay, it's much too sensitive to enjoy in a car, bus or plane, since the slightest movement can send your monkey off a platform.
Even without the multiplayer test, Super Monkey Ball 2 is a huge improvement over the first game and comes highly recommended, even at $9.99. Now all Sega has to do is release an update to fix the original, and perhaps we'll bother to play it.
What's Hot: Over 115 stages, four monkeys to choose from, cheery music, local Wi-Fi, much easier to control than the original game.
What's Not: Sega will release Monkey Golf and Monkey Target later (free of charge, we hope), almost impossible to play while in transit.