Super Monkey Ball 2 [iTunes Link] is now available for the iPhone. There is good news and bad news, and yes, some of it relates to App Store policies which are out of developers' hands.
I bought the original Super Monkey Ball [iTunes Link] for US$10 on the first day the App Store was available (July 10, 2008, for those who might some day want to win a trivia contest). I had seen the demo and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I also bought Bejeweled 2 [iTunes Link] for $10 on that same day.
Bejeweled 2 is now selling for $3 and the original Super Monkey Ball is selling for $4. If you ask me, Bejeweled is a steal at the price, and the original version of Super Monkey Ball isn't worth $0.99. It was far too "twitchy" for my taste. I tried everything to steady my hands, but I was never able to get enough precise control to be able to enjoy the game. In all the time I've had it, I bet I've played it less than an hour. Every time I tried, it ended quickly in frustration, usually with my shouting "Drown, stupid monkey! Drown!"
I wasn't alone in my frustration. Macworld's first look at Super Monkey Ball 2 begins with this look back:
"The original Super Monkey Ball was an App Store launch game and sold like gangbusters. Taking advantage of the iPhone's accelerometer controls and already possessing a huge following thanks to its console success, Super Monkey Ball was one of the most highly anticipated apps on the iPhone.
The only problem was: it wasn't very good."
Macworld went on to say that Sega had (at that point) not announced a cost. Part of me deeply hoped that they would release it as a free update. As I see it, there are two big remaining flaws in the App Store (ignoring, for the moment, the whole approval process): 1) the lack of demo versions (either timed or number of launches), and 2) no way for developers to provide for upgrade pricing. That means that there is no way for people who bought Super Monkey Ball to get a deal on Super Monkey Ball 2. That left Sega with two choices: 1) release it as an update, meaning anyone who bought Super Monkey Ball would get it for free; or 2) release it as a separate app, meaning that anyone who bought v. 1 has to pay full price for v. 2. The App Store does not give them any other choice.