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Who needs King Kong
When itís raining outside in miserable Leeds, the sky is grey and the world seems dull you can always rely on a Japanese computer game walking into your life and making you feel like youíve licked LSD off the pages of Alice in Wonderland. That is what Super Monkey Ball Deluxe is there to do, well, that and allow you to pretend to be a monkey inside a roller cage ball exploring eye meltingly colourful worlds in search of bananas that have been hidden by the evil Dr. Bad Boon. So, just another normal day in the world of hugely successful Japanese Arcade games then.

Despite sounding like the craziest primate adventure ever, the Super Monkey Ball series is one that has sold millions all around the world, not just in the East. It isnít because the game feels like a drug fuelled hallucination that the game is so addictive either, itís because at its core this game developed by Sega holds dear the values that made puzzlers like Marble Madness and Tetris so legendary. A simple formula that is easy to pick up, but difficult to master.

So what is that formula? You control a monkey, inside of a rolling ball with the aim of getting to the end of increasingly fiendish levels whilst picking up as many bananas along the way. Sounds easy and in the early levels it is quite straight forward, but as you progress along the single player game levels become more and more intricate, requiring the accuracy of a Swiss timepiece and the balance of a tight rope walker as you bounce, slide and roll your way over the finish line of each level.

The levels are constructed in true Japanese fashion, cute and colourful which can, along with the sounds get annoying. There is only so much I can take of watching a quartet of oddly dressed monkeys sing the magical spell ďeiĖeiĖpooĒ before wondering what exactly it is I am doing with my life. Besides the story, which really isnít important for enjoying the game this truly is a master class of puzzling action.

So, what is different with the Playstation 2 version compared to the Game Cube? Well for starters the Deluxe version bundles everything good from the previous two. 254 of the best levels plus 46 new ones for you to get your teeth into. But hereís the problem; in reality if you already own Super Monkey Ball there is not enough here to justify going out and buying the new game. That being said if you have never owned a Game Cube then youíve probably never had the joy of playing any Super Monkey Ball. Now, for a discount price you can play all of them in one bundle.

Donít forget to get the friends round either. Super Monkey Ballís replayability lies only partly in its single player adventures. The party modes let you indulge in some great multiplayer action which is good for exactly what it says on the tin. If your having a party get out Super Monkey Ball, dust off your multi-tap and let battle commence, few games offer so much fun to so many.

So forget King Kong this Christmas, if youíre going to be entertained by any monkeys they should be magical, Japanese monkeys that live in roller balls hungry for bananas.