Some people just aren't happy with the ordinary. Take people who enjoy nothing more than a deep-fried battered Mars bar, for instance. Not content with a Mars as we know it, fresh from the corner shop, these strange individuals chose to coat their confectionary in boiling lard.
Or consider those bewildered souls who insist on dressing up their dogs in little jackets, disregarding the fact that said canines are hardy outdoors animals with fur coat as standard.
It's the same with golf, evidently. Not content with taking to the greens with a regulation putter and dimpled ball, an imaginative so-and-so came up with the idea of sticking a monkey into a large hamster sphere and then letting it go nuts on the local crazy golf course.
That, by and large, is the premise behind Monkey Ball Mini Golf, a game that features four simians of varying stature that you can stroke around a series of 18 miniature golf holes. With each shot costing one banana – there's nothing so pedestrian as stroke or matchplay rules here – and the opportunity to pick up extra 'nanas on the hole itself, your task is simply to finish each hole with as many yellow fruits as possible.
This basic premise is made considerably more challenging by inventive hole design, each of which is littered with obstacles, ranging from banked curves to worm holes, pinball-table style springs to speed boosters. On top of this further strategy is added via the performance of your chosen Simian.
The four monkeys on offer – AiAi (boy monkey), MeeMee (girl monkey), Baby (baby, er, monkey) and GonGon (butch monkey) – each have a particular special skill, with Baby being the fastest but also the most lightweight. GonGon, meanwhile, though not very fast, is heavy and carries a lot of momentum, enabling him to get over obstacles easier than the others.
Disappointingly, the visual detail in the game isn't of a high enough level to enable you to identify the monkeys by sight as you're left looking solely at the titular monkey ball, a red and white sphere that could just as easily be a marble. Indeed with music being limited to a 5 second jingle for finishing the hole, it's fair to say that Monkey Ball Mini Golf won't win any prizes for its presentation. To be fair though, the holes themselves, floating above a bed of clouds or cratered Moon surface, are pleasingly chunky and the overall style is undeniably clear, direct and accessible.
In many ways it's this ethos of keeping things short and sweet that sums up Monkey Ball Mini Golf perfectly. The controls are simple, the goals obvious and each hole takes between one and five minutes to play. Add this all together though and you've got a fair chunk of playtime, especially as the hole designs are distinct enough to enable several returns before you get bored.
Whilst additional courses would have been welcome in extending this further, we'd have happily traded them in for a multiplayer mode, even a hotseat two-player option would have sufficed. As it is though, you're left on your own which seems more than a shame; in fact it's downright unnatural considering that monkeys are such social creatures.
Of course, if you are an especially sociable monkey, you won't balk at handing the phone around to your chums and playing Monkey Ball Mini Golf sure beats picking fleas out of each others' hair! Thing is though, with a proper multiplayer option, this really could have been top banana rather than simply an a-peel-ing time-waster.