Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll - WII - Review
I have to admit that I’ve been a big Monkey Ball fan ever since the game came out on the Gamecube. The idea of a monkey running around inside a ball through a maze was crazy enough to hook me, but the ingenuity of the gameplay kept the controller in my hand. When the first Wii Monkey Ball game was released (Banana Blitz) it offered, at the time and in my opinion, the ultimate Wii experience by stuffing in a wide assortment of mini-games. Almost every type of control movement was represented in Banana Blitz giving your Wii Remote a workout.
With Step & Roll, I finally get to play what I thought would be the ultimate Monkey Ball experience. When the Wii Balance board was introduced I immediately thought that Monkey Ball would be a perfect fit. Standing on the board and controlling the Monkey seemed like a no brainer. While the overall experience still fits the Monkey Ball billing there are some elements that will have you teetering on and off the balance board.
Step & Roll is a small step back from the mini-game overdose that was found in Banana Blitz. This Monkey Ball is focused primarily on the single-player experience, progressing from stage to stage. Each stage can vary from a simple, straightforward line to a complex maze you have to maneuver through to reach the goal. There are total of 10 stages for each world and six worlds to play through. You have a time limit of 60 seconds to finish each stage before you lose a life. However, the time limit is not your only nemesis, because if you fall off the stage you’ll have to start over again.
The difficulty will ramp up as you move from world to world, but also depends on how you play the game. Per the instruction manual “Since it is easier to control with a Wii Remote, the playfield contains extra obstacles to make it more challenging.” Yes, you read that correctly, the difficulty in the game changes depending if you’re playing with the Balance Board or the Wii Remote. However, I found that the game still played much easier using the Wii Remote.
The precision and sensitivity of the Balance Board really starts to create some headaches once you get past the first couple of worlds. As the stages become more challenging, it seems just the slightest movement can create a big change in the direction of the monkey. The small, precise movements you need to make never felt easy or comfortable with the Balance Board. The camera angle would also create some challenges once you bump into a railing or wall. The camera immediately swings around, causing you to move in the opposite direction you were moving just a second earlier. It would always take a couple of seconds before I was able to get the monkey headed in the right direction after bumping into something. Compared to the Balance Board, playing with the Wii Remote was much easier.
Besides the Stage/World progression of the main game, there are a few extra modes. The co-op mode allows a second player to assist the first player through the stages. This mode controls similarly to other simple co-op modes in Wii games. The second player simply points at the screen and shoots obstacles in the first player’s path. The Marathon mode has you attempting to make it through the entire game with no continues but you do get a break between worlds. The Practice mode lets you practice on any of the stages you’ve unlocked in the regular game. The Jam Dojo provides you a simple tutorial on how to play the game.
The mini-game collection in Step & Roll feels rather tame compared to Banana Blitz. There are 21 mini-games included in Step & Roll while there were 50 mini-games in Banana Blitz. The game does enforce a limit of just one Balance Board at a time with the other players using the Wii Remotes. In fact, if the first player is using the Balance Board, Player 4 has to use Player 1’s Wii Remote. Strange but it still works. The game even throws in a few mini-games that require use of the nun chuck, yet Wii Motion Plus is missing.
The mini-games are Balloon Race, Battle Pinball, Firefighter, Fruit Basket, Hovercraft Battle, Hovercraft Race, Hurdle Race, Jump Rope, Ladder Climbing, Luge, Monkey Race, Monkey Snowboard, Monkey Target, Ninja Stomp, Red Light Green Light, Seesaw Ball, Skydiving, Spaceship Landing, Spinning Top Attack, Starlight Swing and Sumo Smash. Unfortunately, the control issues with the Balance Board from the single player mode hold true in the mini-games. For example, I found myself trying to stomp as hard as possible on the Balance Board during the Firefighter game only to fail miserably. Yet, I picked up the Wii-mote and didn’t have any problems with the controls.
Even with the Balance Board control issues Step & Roll is still a solid Monkey Ball game. If you’re a big fan of the Monkey Ball series, or at least Banana Blitz for the Wii, you might be disappointed that the game isn’t really that much different than what we’ve been playing for several years now. I can best summarize it this way; if you don’t have the Balance Board but you already have Banana Blitz, the true attraction with Step & Roll is the single player game. While Banana Blitz was an all out mini-game assault, Step & Roll is focused on the single player game. If you have a Balance Board, plenty of patience and never picked up Banana Blitz, then Step & Roll would be a solid game to keep the Balance Board in play.
Review Scoring Details for Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll
Step & Roll is a game that has two faces. On one side you get a tight and responsive control scheme (Wii Remote) that keeps you moving around the stages at ease. The other side will have you stumbling and bumping around the stages while you flail around on the Balance Board trying to control the poor monkey stuck inside the ball.
The typical cartoony, colorful style that has been in all the previous Monkey Ball games is still present in Step & Roll. If only the camera angle was more forgiving when you run into walls.
Some nice Japanese Pop style music that will have you humming along after a few listens. But, then again, Japanese Pop might not for everyone.
As you’ve heard before with other games “Easy to learn, difficult to master.” The early stages are easy enough for anyone to jump into but the later stages will have you replaying multiple times before you reach completion.
Even with the addition of the Balance Board controls, this is still the same Monkey Ball game we’ve been playing for years now. The focus with Step & Roll is primarily on the Balance Board controls and the single player experience.
Step & Roll is a “step” in the right direction since the game is embracing the other peripherals available for the Wii. There are plenty of gamers that have the Balance Board sitting around collecting dust and now Monkey Ball is an excuse to get it out. However, just take a deep breath and remember that the sensitivity and accuracy might be too much at times. But if you’re a die hard Monkey Ball fan and you just can’t get enough then Step & Roll is a no brainer purchase that hits all the right notes.