The game differs from the original Super Monkey Ball in terms of gameplay. It is less focused on the traditional floor level and instead has a story mode focused on plot, missions, and actions.
According to Sega, this game was an attempt to make an adventure game with Super Monkey Ball characters. While the floors are considered decent, whether or not the "adventure" attempt succeeded is debatable (See "Reception" section).
AiAi and friends must travel through 4 different worlds by completing missions and exploring the area around them to bring happiness back to the kingdoms of Jungle Island, Moonhaven, Zootopia, Monkitropolis, and Kongri-La. Throughout, they also need to complete some traditional Monkey Ball levels to unlock certain areas.
Challenge Mode returns but now has much more difficult levels. The worlds are much simpler and recycle music from previous games, but still follows the traditional Monkey Ball formula. There are 3 difficulties - Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. Advanced must be unlocked by completing Beginner, and Expert must be unlocked by completing Advanced. All floors are used from various locations from Story Mode.
There are 6 party games. These include Monkey Race, Monkey Fight, and Monkey Target, along with 3 new games: Monkey Bounce, Monkey Cannon, and Monkey Tag. The player can play as several NPCs from Story Mode as well as various difficulty levels by buying them from PaiPai in each world.
Future AiAi is available as a playable character only on the PS2 and PSP versions, and must be unlocked on the PS2 version by tranferring data from the PSP.Exclusive to the PSP version, it features an online party game called Monkey Trumps. The player plays with cards collected throughout Story Mode to play various modes with others.
Super Monkey Ball Adventure received mixed reviews by critics due to confusion of mission goals in story mode, the lack of character control (causing a lot of fallouts, especially in water), long loading screens, and time-wasting winches and elevators. SMBA obtained a ranking of 0 in Rotten Tomatoes's video game section, Nintendo Power gave it a 5.5 out of 10 rating in it, along with other sources, claiming it was the worst game in the Super Monkey Ball series, X-Play gave it a 1 out of 5. However, the game's floors were praised as well as its soundtrack.
- This is the only Super Monkey Ball game to be released on multiple platforms.
- Unlike Super Monkey Ball & Super Monkey Ball 2, this game was not developed by Amusement Vision due to its merging with Sega.
- The PSP version of the game contains a new difficulty mode (Exclusive Mode) which contains levels only available on the PSP.
- Along with having a speedometer, Adventure also includes an altimeter and a radar.
- This is the last Super Monkey Ball game to have MeeMee wearing a flower on her skirt and GonGon's shirt being red with a yellow "G".
- This is also the last Super Monkey Ball game (not including the three iOS games) that the monkey is stopped immediately when the timer reaches 0. Starting in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, the monkey’s momentum is preserved when the timer runs out, so that the player can finish the level when the timer runs out.
- The game was not released in Japan.
- Monkey Trumps features 5 characters that do not appear elsewhere: Can d'Can, Singsing, SaxSAX, Ha'harp, and Bang-bang. The last 4 were likely replaced with a band starring Bran'ran, Sumsum, Flam'lam, and Digdig for the royal wedding.
- The Mysterious Traveler is exclusive to the PSP version of the game.