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Super Monkey Ball is a series of video games published by Sega.
The typical goal of the Super Monkey Ball games is to guide a monkey held in a transparent ball to their goal. Players alter the tilt of the entire stage in order to guide their monkey, using an analog stick for precise controls. Along the way, players can collect bananas for points and extra lives. However, if the ball falls off of the course, or takes too long to reach the goal, the player fails the level, losing a life in the process.
Super Monkey Ball games also often include a number of minigames. They are often meant to be played with a group of people.
The original Monkey Ball was an early 2001 arcade game developed by Amusement Vision. It was soon ported to the Dreamcast, becoming one of the main exclusive holiday titles for the system, alongside such games as Virtua Tennis 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, and Dead or Alive 3. The game was well received upon release, with reviews hovering around the upper 80's out of 100 and sales of about 3 million over the Dreamcast's life. These sales made it the best-selling Sega game of the generation to not include Sonic as a playable character.
Super Monkey Ball 2 was released in the middle of 2002, after about a year and a half of development since the original arcade game. Also developed by Amusement Vision, this game introduced several new concepts to the series, such as a Story and Practice mode. However, the game was largely a conservative sequel, sticking to what made the original well-received. Despite these similarities, Super Monkey Ball 2 had similar reviews and sales as the original did.
Later in the Dreamcast's life, Sega considered releasing an "ultimate" edition of the first two games, compiling their levels onto a single disc and adding new additional content. However, this plan was stymied by the GD-ROM's limited storage capacity. Furthermore, the restructuring of Sega at the time to reform older studios into new ones meant that the game would have been logistically difficult.Super Monkey Ball found its next entry in the Pluto launch title Banana Blitz. Developed by the Amusement Vision once again, this game utilized the Pluto controller's gyroscope, allowing for levels to be played by simply tilting the controller as an alternative to using an analog stick. Although the game lacked as many levels as Super Monkey Ball 2, it boasted an impressive number of party games, making this arguably the first great multiplayer game for the platform. However, the lack of innovation and online functionality held Banana Blitz back from reaching the scores and sales of its predecessors. Nonetheless, the game sold over two million copies worldwide.
Since 2006, Amusement vision has not made another game in the series, instead choosing to focus on their Yakuza series of games. However, Super Monkey Ball characters and locations have made appearances in other Sega games, including the Sega Superstars Smackdown series.