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When Sega announced that it was bringing its primate puzzler Super Monkey Ball to DS, we were so excited we almost choked on our bananas. Indeed, if ever there was a match made in beautiful simian nirvana, surely Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll would be it.
And, after spending some quality time prodding AiAi and his spherically encased chimp buddies, we were certainly charmed by Touch & Roll, if not entirely bowled over by it.
Of course, with the series having already graced GBA, it's no surprise that Touch & Roll feels quite at home on a handheld, with its familiar Monkey-Ball mix of challenge and party modes making perfect fodder for portable playing.
As ever, challenge mode is the main attraction, requiring the player to guide their globe-trotting gorilla deftly around suspended, twisty-turny courses, collecting bananas while speeding toward the finish line.
Although this concept echoes every other previous Monkey Ball outing, Touch & Roll shakes up the formula by offering the chance to control your rolling ape using the DS touch-screen - the closer to the outer edge of the ball you move the stylus, the faster your monkey on the top screen moves.
As a concept this control system makes absolute sense and it's one we expected to be perfectly suited to the nature of the game. However, in practice we found it less than efficient and, after some perseverance, we eventually reverted to the traditional D-pad controls, which we found to be much more agreeable.
Despite the shortcomings of the new touchy interface in challenge mode, using the stylus does feel more suited to some of Touch & Roll's six minigames.
While stylus control is perfectly suitable for Monkey Bowling and Hockey, it feels almost completely incompatible with Fight and the new Wars game.
There is still time for the controls to be tweaked, which we really hope Sega can manage because having to rely on the D-pad, despite being a fine control system, really defeats the object of DS Monkey Ball and would be a bit of a let down.
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