Super Monkey Ball has come a long way from a banana joystick arcade game developed by Amusement Vision to a full 3D adventure designed by Traveller’s Tales. Traveller’s Tales and Sega have a history with Sonic 3D Blast and they also designed the surprise hit Lego Star Wars. Since Amusement Vision isn’t handling Super Monkey Ball Adventure, the newest Monkey Ball game was taken in an entirely different direction. Marty Caplan, the lead producer of Super Monkey Ball Adventure, tells us what to expect about Super Monkey Ball.
Siliconera: The most notable feature is the game’s adventure mode. Tell us about this and why Sega decided to evolve the franchise with this feature?
Marty Caplan: Since AiAi and his friends have been so successful, SEGA decided to give fans the chance to explore their world – to see where they grew up, where they live, expand their magic monkey ball powers and flesh out their universe. The Story mode lets us introduce all this in Super Monkey Ball Adventure, while retaining the previous appeal of Party Games and Challenge Mode with new puzzle trays.
Do the monkeys have new skills like jumping to use in their adventure?
There are lots of new things the monkeys can do in the Story Mode – they can’t jump per se, but can bounce on bounce pads, glide after being shot out of cannons, and there are eight new magic chants that they can learn to change the characteristics of their Monkeyball.
In the game AiAi and his pals do battle with the Naysayers. Who are the Naysayers and how do the monkeys fight them in their hamster balls?
The Naysayers have emerged from the unhappiness of the residents of the land of Monearth – the Super Monkey Ball world. Everybody there has problems making them unhappy that they need help to solve, and when our heroes do help them, the Joy level rises. Eventually (by completing the Story mode) there will be enough Joy to banish the Naysayers permanently.
What about the classic SMB gameplay where you roll through mazes are labyrinth style mazes still a part of Super Monkey Ball?
Puzzle trays are very much still a major part of the game. We have 50 new ones (with 15 of those unique on the PSP)! They range in difficulty from easy to quite challenging.
The first game’s expert mode was extremely challenging. As a result SMB 2 felt a little toned down. Where does the difficulty level lie in Super Monkey Ball Adventure?
We think that everyone will be challenged by the top-difficulty Puzzle Trays in challenge mode. The Story Mode can be completed by doing a bit more than half of the quests you find there, but to finish it 100% is a massive challenge that hardcore SMB fans will love.
Mini games have always been a big part of the Super Monkey Ball franchise. Can you share some of the details about the mini games with us?
We have 6 Party Games in SMBA – three remixed classics and three new ones. There’s Race, Target, and Boxing in terms of classics and on the new side, Bounce, Castle, and Tag. You can unlock extra game modes, extra playable characters, and extra tracks and environments for the Party Games by spending bananas you collect in the Story and Challenge modes. The PSP has a bonus card-based Party Game where you collect cards of characters in Story Mode to build a deck.
How does the connectivity between the PSP and PS2 work?
You can swap the save file you create on either platform. This lets you play the same game at home and on the go, keeping your place in the Story Mode, all your unlocks and bananas, and transfer to PS2 of an exclusive unlockable mystery character on PSP.
Traveler’s Tales previous work includes Lego: Star Wars and the Chronicles of Narnia game. What made Sega decide to pick them to develop the game instead of Amusement Vision?
Amusement Vision and Nagoshi-san were busy doing Yakuza, and so gave Traveler’s Tales the chance to push the Super Monkey Ball franchise into a whole new territory.
The style looks slightly different from the other Monkey Ball games. Who did the art for Super Monkey Ball Adventure?
Traveler’s Tales worked with SEGA to create a slightly new look so we could expand the population of monkeys and invent the visual style of Monearth.
Fans of Super Monkey Ball Adventure want to know about Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz coming out for the Wii. Are there any details you can give to us?
We’re really excited that AiAi and his pals will be there for the launch of the Wii. We’ll be sharing more information as we get closer and closer to launch, so keep your eyes open!