The Little Ball That Could is a game where you guide a rolling sphere through a dangerous obstacle course. If that sounds familiar, that’s perhaps because you are vaguely remembering Sega’s Super Monkey Ball series from a lifetime ago. The Little Ball That Could is out now on Steam for $8, and it could give fans of Monkey Ball and Marble Madness — the 1984 game that kicked off rolling balls through mazes — some of that difficult physics-based gameplay they crave.
Developer Naissus Works says that its game is the return of “marble platforming,” and The Little Ball That Could looks like a combination between Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness. It has the visual style of Sega’s game with giant obstacle courses suspended magically in the air, but it combines that with the isometric camera view of Marble Madness. But the action is all about using analog or mouse controls to carefully (or aggressively) roll the ball where you want it to go.
The difficulty comes from narrow paths, steep slopes, hydraulic presses, and other obstacles. Everything is trying to push you off into a bottomless pit, and you have to learn how to overcome anything The Little Ball That Could throws at you without panicking. And finding that balance or zen is the joy of a game like this.
Marble Madness first appeared in arcades in 1984. Atari published it, and PlayStation 4 technical chief Mark Cerny designed it long before overseeing Sony’s latest console. Sega launched Super Monkey Ball in 2001 for arcades and the GameCube not long after. The publisher released more than a dozen games in the series before slowing down earlier this decade. Since 2012, Sega has only launched Super Monkey Ball Bounce for mobile, which features different core mechanics than its console cousins.
But while we can get our hopes up that Sega may want to revive the series or re-release it on PC like it has with some of its other recent games, The Little Ball That Could is going to fill in the void for us.