Apes in Balls

I am still fascinated by the mind-boggling idea behind Super Monkey Ball. Monkeys are put into a plastic ball and they have to roll around in it until they reach the finish line. And whenever things get dicey, they screech tearfully. It may well be that this sounds less whacky for the land of Takeshi‘s Castle – but this concept so quirky that I fell straight in love and the other 19 games at the launch of the GameCube felt boring. In the months that followed, I wanted to crack the most difficult courses with AiAi, even if this meant to go bananas. And the difficulty level could really drive you crazy at times!

My obsession reached a level where I wanted to philosophically pursue the question among friends whether the monkey in the ball was really moving or whether I was tilting the surface the ball was on. Because on the one hand, Super Monkey Ball suggests that you steer the monkey and thus the ball – why else lock a monkey in the damn plastic ball! On the other hand, the idea is very reminiscent of a ball maze, where we tilt the whole wooden box to manoeuvre a ball to the finish. Just let that sink in for minute…

At that time, I hoped to improve my technique by answering this question – I wanted to become mentally one with AiAi. The controls are very precise and the game makes very clear that a failure is only due to your own failure. I realised that the skill and power to succeed in this game had to come out of yourself. However, I never mastered Super Monkey Ball. But I learned a lot about patience. And I had a lot of fun doing it.

Super Monkey Ball was released for the Gamecube launch in Europe in May 2002. Super Monkey Ball 2 followed the year after. Sega released a slew of other games for various platforms, but none matched the quality of those two masterpieces.

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