This Real Life Monkey Ball Is My New Favorite Video Game Controller

Gif: Thomas Tilley / Kotaku
Gif: Thomas Tilley / Kotaku

Anything can become a gaming controller if you try hard enough, even a monkey in a ball. Thomas Tilley proved that after his recent creation went viral, making every match of Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble played on a normal Switch Joy-Con controller feel like a huge missed opportunity by comparison.

Tilley, who you may know as the creator of the world’s biggest playable Game & Watch handheld, used a tripod with a mouse tracking ball at the bottom and a plastic ball to make the dream reality. “Everybody’s adding AI to things these days so I thought I’d add AiAi to my DIY soccer/football controller,” he tweeted more recently. He had already made a similar setup for playing Armadillo Racing. All he had to do was 3D print a sculpture of AiAi, Super Monkey Ball’s main hero, paint him, and get him glued down inside the ball.

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The platform is made out of cardboard while deodorant roller-balls attached at three points help stabilize the ball without inhibiting its movement. As Tilley explained in a previous thread when he was adapting the mechanism for Katamari Damacy. “A FreePIE script maps the mouse movement to two virtual vJoy thumbsticks for the in-game control,” he wrote when describing the peripheral last year.

For some it was reminiscent of the Super Monkey Ball Ticket Blitz arcade cabinet, though even that one didn’t have a bespoke AiAi running around on it. If Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble ever gets a collector’s edition and it doesn’t come with one of these I’ll be disappointed now. For those without the ingenuity or tools, you’ll just have to ponder AiAi’s orb in your free time. Fortunately, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble sounds like its excellent enough even without a special controller.

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