One of the most underrated games of the GameCube's launch period was Sega's SUPER MONKEY BALL. A port of an arcade game (that uses a banana as a controller), it was easy to play, and featured fantastic level design. When they finished playing, most gamers had gone through more than one controller because of the insane difficulty level.
In MONKEY BALL, gamers take control of a monkey inside a plastic ball. Then, with physics as your ally (and more frequently, your enemy) you will attempt to get through various obstacle courses to reach a goal. While older gamers may immediately be turned off by the apparent "cutesy/dorky" nature of the game, but let's be real with ourselves here. You're a video gamer; you've already crossed that line.
The level designs are, quite frankly, ingenious. Featuring curves, ramps, narrow paths, moving platforms, and obstacles of all kinds, the levels are as awe-inspiring as they are frustrating. The first levels are fairly straightforward: just go straight, dodge the hole, and hit the goal. Later, moving platforms and narrow ledges become more and more common.
For those who enjoy torturing themselves, the game also scatters bananas around the levels for those perfectionists to attempt to acquire. Collecting bananas and completing levels give players points that can be used to purchase mini-games.
The mini-games provide much of the replay value, and are awesome for party-environments when a crowd is ready for some easy to play. But it can be difficult to master quick games. Favorites like Monkey Bowling, Billiards, and Knockout, are in, along with many others. The one-player game is fun to play as is, but the multiplayer games give another incentive.
The whole concept of easy to play, difficult to master, and loads of fun, contributes much to the replayability, and even the general playability of SUPER MONKEY BALL 2. The game takes everything done well by the first one, and adds much more, to give you a bigger bang for your $50.
The worlds remain as bright and colorful as in the first SUPER MONKEY BALL, but this time you'll see a lot more level designs that will put your jaw on the floor. Not much is different, but the game has some cool designs, and the frame rate moves right along.
The music can get old, but for the most part, it's nothing that is too annoying. You may eventually get tired of hearing the sound effect of your monkey falling off the level, only because it is such a frequent occurrence in the later stages of the game.
Once again, Sega has put out a game in the shadow of a Mario Bros. game for the GameCube. This time, with a year of steam behind the first one, hopefully it'll get noticed. If you own a GameCube and enjoy playing multiplayer games with your friends, or just enjoy a good one-player challenge, check out SUPER MONKEY BALL 2. And if you can't get past the fact that you are playing with baby monkeys in a plastic ball, grow up.