Although I’ve only played two of the games to date—the original Monkey Ball at the Galloping Ghost Arcade and Super Monkey Ball 3D on Nintendo 3DS—I consider myself a fan of the series. There’s something so intrinsically satisfying about maneuvering a monkey in a ball along twisting paths while collecting bananas.
So imagine my delight when I saw Super Monkey Ball: Ticket Blitz at Southern Lanes in Hopkinsville one fateful day in May. Sure, I never play ticket redemption, but I couldn’t pass up more Monkey Ball. With the leftover money from my Aliens Armageddon playthrough, I coined up and prepared myself for kooky fun with protagonist Ai Ai.
The only problem? The game wasn’t at all I’d hoped it would be, even when accounting for my inflated expectations. Somehow, Super Monkey Ball: Ticket Blitz manages to do so much right, yet somehow does just as much wrong. Buckle in tightly as I discuss intricacies of this dilemma in the review below.
Super Monkey Ball: Ticket Blitz
Release date: 2011
Like any good entry in the series, Super Monkey: Ticket Blitz drops your ball-bound primate into a winding, sloping path with the goal of progressing from point A to point B while collecting bananas and without falling or running out of time. The challenge comes from fighting your own momentum in pursuit of said goal.
This is a downright addictive gameplay loop that never fails to the draw me the edge of my proverbial seat. Do I meticulously collect every banana and brave the possibility of falling off the map or running out of time? Or do I blaze past the extras and sacrifice the hair-raising fun derived from imminent danger? The risk-reward balance is impeccable.
Ticket Blitz mixes things up by tying gameplay performance to, as the name implies, ticket accrual. Tickets are awarded based on three factors: degree of progression through the stage, number of bananas collected, and number of seconds remaining on the timer. Skilled players can make magic happen by acing everything in tandem.
The main difference induced by the switch to tickets is the removal of a lives system. Now, you can die as many times as you like. Plummet from the stage too many times and you won’t cross the finish line before time is called. (The lack of lives should’ve tipped me off that this wasn’t the most the traditional Monkey Ball out there.)
After each normal stage, Ai Ai is transported to a bonus stage in which you launch from a death-defying ramp and attempt to land within the jackpot ring. As far as I can tell, this sequence is entirely skill-based, but I was never able to nail it.