XBLIG Review: Funky Balls – Even a Monkey Could Do It

Developed by Philip Muwanga of Mischievous Monkey Studios, Funky Balls will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played Sega’s Super Monkey Ball series or GarageGames’ Marble Blast Ultra.

Funky Balls features five sets of five levels (25 total) ranging from easy to moderately difficult, complete with individual sets of challenges.  The premise is simple:  Guide your Avatar riding “funky” ball from level start to finish as quickly as possible avoiding obstacles and pitfalls along the way.  Sound simple?  It is, sort of. You could easily run (er…roll) through the levels and reach the credits, but to truly appreciate this game you should take advantage of replayability of each level, collecting gems, monkey (I see what you did there) icons, and stars much like Joe Danger.  Each completed level nets experience points which are used to unlock different balls with modified characteristics such as increased speed, better control, or multi-jumping.  Shockingly, there’s even a ball with a picture of a monkey on it.  A “Monkey Ball”.  Get it?

The graphics are perfectly acceptable for a game of this type, but I could have used some variety in backdrop and color choice.  There’s only so many times you can barrel through a neon magenta/green checkered stage set in front of the Earth and stars before it becomes a bit tiresome.  It would have been great to see a unique theme for each set of stages that somehow played into the levels themselves.  A set based on ice or fire would have been fantastic and added some spice to the gameplay.  Who knows, maybe we’ll see this in Funky Balls 2?

There’s not much to say about sound other than the effects fit the game well and I enjoyed the groovy tunes…the first few times I heard them.  There are only three songs in the game so you would do well to hit the mute button and pop in your favorite album.

I loved the dangling carrot approach this game takes in the form of unlockable balls, but I hardly noticed the difference between the balls outside of their aesthetic appearance.  I generally stuck with the fuzzy ball and was able to meet the majority of the goals in each level without much issue.  That’s not to say this game is easy: a few levels feature some tricky platforming and navigation of narrow winding ledges, which would challenge even those with the steadiest of hands.  For the most part, the game handles well but I would have liked to have direct control over the camera, which would have made exploring the levels much easier.

Funky Balls could easily get buried in the midst of the ongoing Indie Game Uprising III, which is a shame because it probably deserved to be part of the promotion.  The levels run a bit short but feature a good deal of replayability and there’s even a bonus twin-stick shooter in the vein of Geometry Wars accessible from the game’s main menu.  Despite its flaws, Funky Balls is a well-made XBLIG and a fun, cheap way to burn through a few spare hours.

Final Rating:  7/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On:  Xbox 360 (XBLIG)
Time to Completion:  1 hour running through the levels*, 3-5 hours for completionists
Gamer Score Earned:  N/A
Price Bought At80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Current Price:  80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommended Purchase Price:  80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Why You Should Buy It:  You’re a fan of Super Monkey Ball, unlockables, and short bursts of gameplay
Why You Shouldn’t Buy It:  You’re looking for a deep game or are easily frustrated

*Funky Balls tracks in-level time which was around 30 minutes for a playthrough, obtaining two or more stars on each level.  My actual time spent in-game was closer to 1 – 1.5 hours prior to replaying each level to complete additional challenges.

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About Josh Campbell