Super Monkey Ball

When you sit and think about it, this mobile business is simple.

If you're looking to score a stellar hit, all you need do is bring together a collection of cute and cuddly animals and put them at the centre of some form of physics-based play.

Critics of games like Angry Birds might label its success as something of a fluke, but if sticking to such a simple formula were the key to a digital downloads derby then Super Monkey Ball would already be sitting at the top of the tree.

A sensitive soul

The appearance of Sega's now legendary series on smartphones has always seemed inevitable, such is the potential for its tip and tilt style play to take full of advantage of accelerometer-based controls.

To a point, its first run on iPhone made good on such hopes, but its roll onto Windows Phone 7 represents a somewhat bumpier journey. The controls on offer just aren't able to deliver the level of precision needed to ensure Sega's monkey balls live up to their 'super' billing.

Aside from a few graphical issues – the appearance of 2D monkeys somewhat disappointing, given that 2009's sequel on iPhone featured far more rounded versions – issues with sensitivity are the only real complaint that can be laid at Super Monkey Ball's door.

In all other areas, this is an impressively faithful rendition of the kind of package Sega has successfully sold for over a decade now.

Tipped for victory?

As ever, maze-like levels are your playground as you attempt to roll your monkey-filled balls down an increasingly perilous path to the 'finish' line, picking up bananas to rack up extra lives as you go.

Successful navigation relies on a fair amount of patience as tipping the phone too vigorously will, more often than not, result in your monkey flying straight off the edge and falling into the abyss.

What Super Monkey Ball does brilliantly is reinforce this message time and again, with the sense of progression offered with each passing stage ensuring there's always more to learn.

As you head towards the latter stages in each area (a whopping 110 levels on offer in total), the design of the maps becomes - in time-honoured Super Monkey Ball tradition - increasingly complex.

Gaps in the track and what feel like drops of death are just some of the tricks used to keep your attention firmly fixed to the screen.

And it could be for that very reason that Super Monkey Ball never feels like your typical mobile fare.

Indeed, you might not be sat with a control pad in your hands, but this latest version retains the same sense of tension the series mastered on GameCube all those years ago.

Balls and bluster

Nintendo's thumbsticks, however, were able to handle the kind of minute movements required to bring your monkey home through some of the tighter levels.

On Windows Phone 7, that's just not the case, with even the most tentative of tilters likely to come unfairly unstuck as the game reaches its many crescendos.

That's not to say that the most skilled won't come out on top and find their way to the 'finish' line eventually, but the slack controls act as an artificial barrier, superficially raising the difficulty of the game to a level that's almost intolerable at times.

With no option to alter the sensitivity, it's a disability you're stuck with.

Super Monkey Ball still has its moments, of course, and the sheer draw of tilting its tables once again will understandably be too tempting for many to turn down.

At the moment, though, this is something of a trick: a game that promises to press all the right buttons, but is actually far too bluff and bluster to serve up the real deal.

Super Monkey Ball

Delivering over 100 levels of monkey madness, Super Monkey Ball should be the perfect package, but its controls are too out of kilter to do the game justice