super monkey ball

The new Monkey Target minigame

Back when we discovered Final Fantasy would be coming to Windows Phone, we also learned about another upcoming Live title: Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition from SEGA.  Well, Final Fantasy just launched two weeks ago to much acclaim, and now we’re due for some monkey business. Super Monkey Ball 2 arrives on June 27.

As you can see from our exclusive screenshots, Super Monkey Ball 2’s graphics are now fully 3D (the original used 2D sprites for the monkeys). It’s also said to have better controls and stage design. Let’s hope so, because the first game was far too frustrating. 125 stages, six themed worlds, and some tough Achievements will ensure a lengthy experience. One of those Achievements is tied to the game’s new 4-player mode. Hopefully said mode uses the internet rather than local Wi-Fi, but Microsoft wasn’t able to say either way at press time.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition rolls out on Wednesday, June 27 and will cost $2.99… We’re cautiously excited for it.

Update: Multiplayer will be pass-and-play only. Bummer. Good for Achievement hunters though!

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The illustrious club of 99 cent Xbox Live games on Windows Phone has a new member this weekend: Super Monkey Ball from SEGA. The game rolled out at $4.99 on April 6 last year; dropped to $2.99 only a month later; and has at last settled on the rock-bottom price of less than a dollar.

Should you buy the first Super Monkey Ball right now when a much-improved sequel is due later this summer? Sure, if you can tolerate some truly terrible tilt controls. The awful, non-customizable controls and sadistic stage design are really the only things holding SMB back. The core gameplay itself always makes for a good time. The graphics feature very appealing art and color design, and the music isn’t bad either.

On top of the general difficulty issues and nearly impossible final level, there is a ‘semi-broken’ Achievement which does not match its description. ‘Crowned Champion’ actually requires players to earn a crown on every single level rather than just one world - a super tough feat. For more details, check out our review.

Super Monkey Ball now costs 99 cents and there is a free trail. Get it here from the Marketplace. Follow this tag to see more 99 cent Xbox Live games.

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Just a week ago, we looked at a number of Xbox Live games whose Achievements were discovered by avid French gamer Zebrasqual: Mirror’s Edge, Battleship, and Fling. I daresay Mr. Squal’s sleuthing rivals my own, as he has uncovered two more future games’ Achievement lists. Both titles will surely appeal to console gamers: Final Fantasy and Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition.

Head past the break for full details on both upcoming games.

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Super Monkey Ball has been updated by Sega, which fixes the broken achievements we reported on a while back. We've received word that the achievements are now obtainable and all gamerscore can be successfully earned. The achievements in question are:

  • Crowned Champion - Get a crown on every stage of a world
  • Conquer Space Case World - Complete all of the stages of the Space Case World

If we get an official change log from Sega, we'll pass it on.  You can download Super Monkey Ball from the Marketplace. It's currently running $2.99 and there is a free trial to let you try before you buy.

Thanks Aaron and mydefposse for the heads up!

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Remember kids, there is no Xbox Live release in the US this week. Not a common circumstance, and hopefully the last time it occurs. The rest of the world, however, gets Babaroga’s Minesweeper, which was already released in the US a couple of weeks ago. It’s a free, ad-supported game. See my previous post on Minesweeper for details on how unfortunately busted it is.

No new games to play this week? Perhaps Super Monkey Ball from Sega will soothe your troubled soul. It’s the Xbox Live Deal of the Week with a sale price of $1.99. Mr. Cranky Pants is even less fond of this version of Super Monkey Ball, but let's just leave our review to do the talking.

Minesweeper is available here (Zune link) on the Marketplace and it costs nothing. Super Monkey Ball is on sale for $1.99 for one week only. Roll over here to get it.

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There may be no new Xbox Live release this week (unless we count Minesweeper launching outside of the US), but the Xbox Live Deal of the Week train keeps a-rollin’. Sega’s Super Monkey Ball will be on sale for $1.99, down from $2.99.

Super Monkey Ball on Windows Phone is a sad story. It launched at $4.99 and dropped to $2.99 just a few weeks later. Could the price drop have been indicative of the game having problems? Oh yes. As I state in our review, this version of Monkey Ball is just terrible. It looks and sounds pretty, but the tilt controls are the worst I’ve ever experienced. There are also two Broken Achievements which may or may not get fixed some day. If you’re a very patient and forgiving gamer, you may still enjoy Super Monkey Ball, but it sure drove me bananas.

Super Monkey Ball will go on sale for $1.99 on Wednesday, August 24. You can find the game here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

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For many gamers, Xbox Live Achievements are the Windows Phone platform’s main selling point. They provide primary and secondary goals to strive for in games. They also make it easy for other people to see what you’ve accomplished. Earning Achievements contributes to GamerScore – an overall score that quantifies a person’s accomplishments across Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Games for Windows Live games. It’s a brilliant and addictive system.

Except when something goes wrong. Despite the apparently rigorous testing that games undergo during the Xbox Live certification process, sometimes a game is released with one or more with unobtainable Achievements. We call an Achievement broken or glitched when it is impossible for gamers to unlock through any means.

Why are glitched Achievements a big deal? As I said, people get addicted to earning Achievements. Obsessive compulsive types eat them up. People who really buy into the Achievement system sort of calculate the full 200 GamerScore into a game’s purchase price. They feel ripped off if they can’t get the full 200 no matter what they do. Even for less compulsive gamers, it can be frustrating to go through the effort to satisfy an Achievement’s unlock conditions and find that it didn’t unlock.

Head past the jump for the full list of broken Xbox Live Achievements and what’s being done to fix them.

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Super Monkey Ball - Review

Back in elementary school, I once bit into a piece of fried okra thinking it was a Tater Tot. What should have been a delicious, tiny hash brown actually tasted like green death, forever ruining okra for me.

Super Monkey Ball on Windows Phone is a lot like that. On the outside, it has all the makings of a quality game – cute characters, a fun premise, fairly good graphics, and catchy music. I was really looking forward to it before it came out. Beneath Super Monkey Ball’s tasty exterior, however, lies an unpleasant surprise: utterly abhorrent tilt controls.

The Super Monkey Ball series has made quite a name for itself since its debut in Japanese arcades and subsequent release as a GameCube launch title. Players guide one of four monkeys (each inside of a clear ball) across one or more floating platforms and through a goal, avoiding hazards and collecting bananas along the way. The only significant difference between the monkeys is the annoyingness of their voices – I found GonGon to be the most tolerable. Anyway, instead of directly controlling the monkey, you tilt the maze itself and try to steer the monkey where it needs to go. It’s a fun and unique concept.

Roll past the break for our full review.

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Many of us have been waiting for The Harvest to drop to its $4.99 Deal of the Week sale price. The good news, it has! You can find it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace. If you’re not seeing the sale price yet, just try back a little later.

We weren’t expecting another Xbox Live game to get a price drop today. Surprisingly, Sega’s Super Monkey Ball is now $2.99, down from $4.99. This is likely a permanent price drop since The Harvest is the actual Deal of the Week.

As I’ve said before, Super Monkey Ball places players in control of one of several monkeys-inside-a-ball. Actually, you don’t control the monkey ball directly. By tilting the course itself, you can try to collect bananas and navigate the ball towards each level’s goal, all without falling off the course’s edge. This version of the game uses tilt controls exclusively for steering while the touch screen rotates the camera. The courses feature some pretty basic 3D graphics but the monkey balls themselves are 2D sprites. Mini-games, for which the Super Monkey Ball series is famous, are not present in the first mobile Super Monkey Ball. Still, the game has over 100 stages, so it should keep players busy for a good while.

Super Monkey Ball is actually a pretty fun game, with the exception of the tilt controls. It’s way too hard to make minor adjustments and move slowly, so expect to fly off the edges of levels and die a lot. Somebody needs to tell developers that hardly anybody likes tilt controls and they shouldn’t be attempted unless they are fine-tuned to perfection.

If you can stomach a few too many tilt-related deaths, pick up Super Monkey Ball here (Zune link) for $2.99. There’s also a free trial.

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Since the debut of Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7, we’ve seen games from a few large console developers like Konami and Namco. Sega is finally throwing its hat into the ring with next week’s Xbox Live title, Super Monkey Ball.

Super Monkey Ball 2 was previously thought to be coming to Xbox Live based on its Achievements listing at Xbox360Achievements. Achievements listings don’t always turn out to be correct, though – the same site listed Katamari Damacy as coming to Windows Phone 7, but then the actual game ended up being I Love Katamari. It now looks like instead of porting the (much superior) Super Monkey Ball 2 from iPhone, Sega chose to start with the original.

Super Monkey Ball places players in control of one of several monkeys-inside-a-ball. Actually, you don’t control the monkey ball directly. By tilting the course itself, you can try to collect bananas and navigate the ball towards each level’s goal, all without falling off the course’s edge. This version of the game uses tilt controls exclusively for steering while the touch screen rotates the camera. The courses feature some pretty basic 3D graphics but the monkey balls themselves are 2D sprites. Mini-games, for which the Super Monkey Ball series is famous, are not present in the first mobile Super Monkey Ball. Still, the game has over 100 stages, so it should keep players busy for a good while.

Super Monkey Ball comes to Xbox Live on Wednesday, April 6. It will cost $4.99. Xbox Live games always have free trials, so smart gamers will give those tilt controls a try before rolling out money for a purchase.

Thanks to Whitney Strong at Edelman for the screens and info!

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