Super Monkey Ball Jr. is a conversion of the classic GameCube game by Sega. It was first released in North America in 2002, and in 2003 in Europe.
From what I can tell Super Monkey Ball Jr. was never released in Japan… That can’t be right… I thought the Japanese were (rightly) mad for Super Monkey Ball?!
Super Monkey Ball Jr. was developed by British company Realism, in association with Sega AV – the developer of the original game – and the end result is pretty stunning.
The game has a really nice 3D engine. In fact it is one of the few games that utilises the GBA‘s 3D capabilities and it really shows off the power and versatility of the machine. Of course it doesn’t run at a particularly high frame rate, but then it doesn’t need to.
Super Monkey Ball Jr. contains a single-player challenge mode, with more than 60 different levels (I say “more than” because some are hidden and are only presented to you after completing the normal levels). In challenge mode the aim is to negotiate the various different courses, without falling off the edge, and make it through the ‘Goal’ tape at the end. The monkeys can collect bananas as they roll, but they’re not compulsory, they simply provide extra lives after collecting a certain number.
There’s a multiplayer mode, for up to four players. And there are some cool minigames – golf, bowling, and Monkey Fight – which can be unlocked with play points, which are earned by playing the game.
Monkey Golf and Monkey Fight are great – Monkey Bowling not so much, because of the way you choose the bowling line it makes the game somewhat frustrating.
The pumping soundtrack of the original has been well-recreated on the GBA. All the whoops, cries, and monkey voices from the original are in there too. In fact: if you close your eyes and listen to this game it sounds just like the GameCube original…
It has to be said that Super Monkey Ball Jr.‘s control system isn’t quite as intuitive as the GameCube original. I guess that’s to be expected when switching from an analogue control system to a digital one, but it might cause frustration to seasoned SMB players.
Regardless: Super Monkey Ball Jr. is a great game. It’s simple, fun to play, and beautifully produced, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.