iPhone app of the day: Super Monkey Ball review

Having been nurtured on a diet of Marble Madness, I was expecting Super Monkey Ball on the Apple iPhone to be a comforting, nostalgic experience. But

Having been nurtured on a diet of Marble Madness, I was expecting Super Monkey Ball on the Apple iPhone to be a comforting, nostalgic experience. But it seems I underestimated the synaptic ravages I have exposed myself to in the intervening years.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm astonished at how bad I am at Super Monkey Ball. Fortunately, that hasn't kept me returning to the game on an increasingly regular basis. And now that I've finally made it to the end of the first world, I feel I can hold my head up and say... "Super Monkey Ball is the best game on the iPhone".

Why? Because it strikes a perfect balance between frustration and addiction. Key to this is the game's simplicity. All you need to do is roll a ball from one end of a course to another (let's forget, for now, that this ball contains one of four monkeys, all of whom have a passion for regenerative bananas).

The only control you need to know about is that tipping the iPhone tips the entire platform that your ball is rolling on. And that's it. Simple, right?

Well, yes and no. You see, overambitious tipping will lead your ball - monkey and all - off the edge of the course and into the void. And because the iPhone's accelerometer is very, very sensitive, you only have to be out by a fraction of a degree to see all your hard rolling undone.

You'll get to grips with it after a while, but the hyper-sensitive controls do does limit where you can play Super Monkey Ball (public transport's no good, and because you need to hold your iPhone just-off-level, lying down is out). All this hunched sitting can get a bit tiring, particularly as there's no way to save your progress: you either complete a 10-level world or your back to the start all over again.

But hell, gaming isn't about comfort or ease - it's about that urge to improve your prevoius score, whatever the odds. And Super Monkey Ball will have you shaking with withdrawl symptoms within minutes of putting your iPhone in your pocket.

Over sensitive it may be, but this is a beautiful realisation the former Game Cube/Wii classic, with smooth graphics, enjoyable game play and a challenge that will keep you going for weeks. Or, if your as bad as me, months. That must be worth £5.99, right?

Rating: a sweaty-palmed 5/5

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