It has been compared to Marble Madness (NES) and Labyrinth (classic board game), but it probably should not be compared to anything. Sega is one of the few companies out there willing to take a chance, and Super Monkey Ball exemplifies Sega's commitment to originality. The result is a simple yet addictive, challenging yet rewarding title that is fun to play alone and fun to play with friends.
The goal of Super Monkey Ball is to guide your ball, with a monkey inside, to the finish line before time expires. Most stages give you 60 seconds, but some stages only give you 30 seconds. The quicker you finish the level, the more points you get. The number of points you get correlates with the number of "play points" you receive. Play points open up extras (e.g., mini-games). You also can collect 100 bananas along the way to receive an extra life.
Super Monkey Ball is challenging because of the perils thrown your way. As you guide your monkey ball, you will find that most levels do not have walls, making it very easy to fall off, especially in a heated race to beat the clock. In addition, you have to contend with moving platforms, pinball bumpers, jumps, small pieces of track, rotating objects, steep inclines, and much more. Yes, the very nature of this gameplay will frustrate you. Yet because the game is so simple and fun to play, you will become addicted in your quest to get further into the game.
On the multi-player side, Super Monkey Ball provides a lot of enjoyment. You can play the regular game mode two ways: One, you can alternate as each player takes a stab at the Main Game and its 100 levels. Or, two, you can race simultaneously to see who can complete the level the fastest in split-screen fashion. Additionally, numerous mini-games exist, such as Monkey Race, Monkey Fight, Monkey Golf, and more. The mini-games do not have a ton of substance, but they still entertain, especially when four players are involved.
Super Monkey Ball does not have much in the way of presentation. The game is by no means breathtaking—although it is colorful and runs smoothly—and the sound is merely average. The game does prove, however, that state-of-the-art graphics and sound are not necessary to make a good game. Super Monkey Ball rates highly because of its originality, because of its simplicity, and because of its addictiveness. This is a great game for video game players of all ages, skill levels, and genders.