Monkey magic

Have a ball with Sega’s ape-themed puzzle game

Monkey magic

The definitive moment in Steve Coogan’s classic ‘90s TV comedy ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ was when a desperate Alan landed an uncaring telly exec with a desperate pitch for a TV programme. “Monkey Tennis?”

Poor Alan was actually on to something that TV folk still haven’t grasped - everything is better with monkeys. Donkey Kong, King Kong, adverts for teabags - all would be nothing without their star simian turns.

Sega, however, did pay attention. Super Monkey Ball will see you rolling a ball through more than 50 levels (with more to unlock), negotiating hazards and pushing your stylus style (or control pad mastery) to the max.

Old-timers will immediately recognise the 20-year old arcade game, Marble Madness, that Sega was ‘inspired’ by. But to their credit, Sega’s genius developers (and secret Coogan fans?) didn’t just clone the original, they put a monkey into that space, setting it rolling about like a hamster in a wheel that has run free. Four monkeys, in fact; named AiAi, MeeMee, GonGon, and Baby. The different apes each have a different momentum and feel, so you just need to find your, err, closest relative.

The Super Monkey Ball series has earned a superb pedigree from its previous releases on other systems. With the DNA to be a classic DS-style pick-up-and-push game too, Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll is rounded out with six party games to inspire further single- or (wireless) multiplayer monkeying about: Monkey Race, Monkey Fight, Monkey Bowling, Monkey Mini Golf, Monkey Hockey and Monkey Wars - with the last two debuting on Nintendo’s handheld.

So don’t be surprised if we go nuts over Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll when it bowls into the shops in February.