Warning: Never tilt a monkey with your feet in real life.
Sega had a playable demo of the newest iteration of the Monkey Ball series, the Wii Balance Board-controlled Monkey Ball: Athletic (Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll outside of Japan).
Graphically and musically, nothing much has changed. This is pretty much the same game you’ll have played on the GameCube or Wii, with the main focus of this version of course being the new control scheme.
Controlling the monkeys reminded me a lot of the bubble-balancing mini-game from Wii Fit, mixed with the iPhone version of Monkey Ball.
In Wii Fit, players have to shift their entire body weight to control the character purposefully and accurately, as a quick slam down with your heel at the last second will not help you get back in the direction you want to go. It’s the same here in Monkey Ball.
As for the iPhone/iPod Touch version, the physical feeling of moving the entire level with your body is what reminded me of that.
When it’s a part of your body moving in sync with the monkey, it makes it a lot harder to spam the controls or get lucky.
When playing with the Balance Board, the Wii Remote does nothing except pause and speed up the starting animation of each level. Jumping is not in this version.
Those without a Balance Board can play the game using the Wii Remote control scheme from Banana Blitz.
The TGS demo had only 10 easy levels to complete, and they all had railings on the side to prevent fall offs, but I could imagine the later levels getting incredibly challenging.
I found the pressure of controlling the level precisely - but without taking too long - an exciting feeling to have in a Monkey Ball game, although I do wonder if I’d have felt the same if there were no railings.
For those with Balance Boards who are interested in playing this game, I’d recommend dusting off Wii Fit and practicing the bubble game, possibly while playing Monkey Ball on your iPhone at the same time – then I think you’ll be fully trained for this version.