super monkey ball 2

Microsoft has unleashed this weeks Windows Phone Red Stripe Deals. Pricing has been slashed on the Xbox game Super Monkey Ball 2, glƏƏk!, and Hockey Nations PP.

For those not familiar, every week Microsoft discounts the pricing on a Windows Phone Xbox title as well as a app and game from independent developers. You easily identify them by the red stripe that surrounds the app/games Store icon tile.

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We're rather confused as to what's going on but it seems as though Sonic CD has joined Super Monkey in becoming unavailable on the Windows Phone store. Both titles were published in the Nokia Collection of apps for Lumia owners to enjoy for free, which was seen as an awesome move by Nokia. It's therefore come as a slight surprise that both games can no longer be downloaded.

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We’re not sure how Nokia does it (well, we guess money) but they’ve once again managed to give Lumia users something for nothing again. Sega’s Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition, or just SMB2:SE for you shorthand types, is now live in the Nokia Collection and is completely free.

Now the big difference here is this is a non-Xbox Live branded version. That’s good news and bad news as it means you can’t grab those precious Achievements if that’s your thing. Luckily for us, it’s not (though our games guru Paul is surely in another camp). The good news, as we’ve outlined before in our ongoing Xbox games critique is this game can potentially be updated now more frequently.

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Let’s face it; there just aren’t enough monkeys in your life. That’s where SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition comes in. The Super Monkey Ball sequel is now available on the Marketplace and as expected, it’s packed with both monkeys and balls. How could you go wrong?

After the first game’s high levels of crapulence, I was concerned that Super Monkey Ball 2 might follow suit. Well, it's pretty much the same, for better or worse. The tilt controls are as finicky ever, often making it a challenge to slow the monkey ball or bring it to a stop. A new tilt meter at least shows how the game is reading your device’s tilt, slightly reducing the difficulty. Basically, the tilting is not as good as a virtual stick could have been, but you can get used to it after a level or two.

The secondary goal of earning crowns on every level (by picking up all 10 bananas without dying) is just as frustrating as before. If you fail to earn a crown on a level, you’ll have to play a batch of 10 levels in order to get return to it and have a shot at earning the crown again. Smart ideas like allowing players to pause and retry a level or pick a specific level and try for its crown have sadly remained in the waste bin, covered in discarded banana peels and (presumably) empty whisky bottles. Anyway, if you can put aside the desire to get all the crowns (hard as that is for Achievements lovers to do), the game will be a lot more enjoyable and less frustrating.

SMB 2 definitely one-ups its predecessor in one key area: minigames. All three minigames: Monkey Bowling, Monkey Target, and Monkey Golf work nicely and have easy Achievements. The minigames only support pass-and-play multiplayer though, unlike the iOS version, which had local Wi-Fi multiplayer. Perhaps this one got ported before Microsoft finally started allowing Wi-Fi multiplayer. You never really know with Microsoft; they don’t seem to have a coherent multiplayer game plan for Windows Phone.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to Zebrasqual for the tip!

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The new Monkey Target minigame

Back when we discovered Final Fantasy would be coming to Windows Phone, we also learned about another upcoming Live title: Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition from SEGA.  Well, Final Fantasy just launched two weeks ago to much acclaim, and now we’re due for some monkey business. Super Monkey Ball 2 arrives on June 27.

As you can see from our exclusive screenshots, Super Monkey Ball 2’s graphics are now fully 3D (the original used 2D sprites for the monkeys). It’s also said to have better controls and stage design. Let’s hope so, because the first game was far too frustrating. 125 stages, six themed worlds, and some tough Achievements will ensure a lengthy experience. One of those Achievements is tied to the game’s new 4-player mode. Hopefully said mode uses the internet rather than local Wi-Fi, but Microsoft wasn’t able to say either way at press time.

Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition rolls out on Wednesday, June 27 and will cost $2.99… We’re cautiously excited for it.

Update: Multiplayer will be pass-and-play only. Bummer. Good for Achievement hunters though!

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Just a week ago, we looked at a number of Xbox Live games whose Achievements were discovered by avid French gamer Zebrasqual: Mirror’s Edge, Battleship, and Fling. I daresay Mr. Squal’s sleuthing rivals my own, as he has uncovered two more future games’ Achievement lists. Both titles will surely appeal to console gamers: Final Fantasy and Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition.

Head past the break for full details on both upcoming games.

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