I have fond memories of the first two Super Monkey Ball games on the GameCube. Sega took the old board game where you had to tilt a maze to roll a ball into a goal and reworked the concept into a fun video game. While some have become addicted to the increasingly complicated single player courses, many have continued to return to the insane and highly addictive multiplayer mini-games. When the Wii launched in 2006, Sega returned with a motion-controlled sequel that received mixed reviews when it was released. This game has been revamped for modern consoles, and the title has even been slightly changed: Super monkey ball: Banana Blitz HD.
Newcomers to the series will find that the game is quite easy to learn. It’s a monkey in a balloon, which always reminds me of my childhood, when hamsters ran through the house the same way. The goal is to roll the ball towards the goal while trying to harvest as many bananas as possible. You will be rewarded for your punctuality, so you better not keep your fingers crossed for too long. Once you have achieved this goal, your score will be calculated and you will move on to the next stage. As you progress, the various courses become more difficult and dangerous, with more places to fall.
To make all versions identical, motion controls have been completely removed from Banana Blitz HD. While some people had issues with the annoying movement elements in the Wii version, many enjoyed it. I’m a little surprised that Sega didn’t suggest both control methods to attract a wider audience. Unlike the GameCube versions, they have a jump button that allows you to leave the level at any time. I found it useful in the later stages, but you really have to get used to it to properly land where you want to go. I remember the GameCube versions had very precise controls, using the analogue joystick a lot. Unfortunately this is not the case with the Switch version, here the sticks always seem to be too sensitive. There is an option to adjust the sensitivity, but I’ve never been able to get it perfect. Although I usually play with the Switch Pro controller, I’ve found that using Joy-Cons works better and gives me slightly better control. I’m not sure if the developers calibrated the game to work with the shorter analog sticks in the Joy-Con, but I saw a marked improvement when I used them.
For some strange reason, the developers decided that this Monkey Ball game needed bosses. So, after passing through some of the usual levels of the labyrinth, you have to fight the enemy. I think that’s the real reason why this game has a jump button, since you often have to jump on an enemy or his projectiles to destroy him. I’m not a big fan of these encounters because the controls were never good enough to deal with. Sure I managed to get them through, but they were never fun or exciting and I was never happy with them.
Graphically, the game has never looked better. The graphics are clear and colorful, and the game runs very smoothly. The characters are numerous and of good quality (including some free-to-play Blue Blur) and the graphics really shine on both TV and handheld. The music and sound effects are upbeat and cute, and the visuals add very nice touches.
In addition to the single-player novel, there are ten multiplayer mini-games. You can do this through local bank contests, many of which have been published in previous titles. They range from very funny to downright boring, depending on your friend group. Although the games use an analogue stick, we found some quite difficult to control, and the learning curve for some was particularly steep. For a game that seems to appeal to a young audience, some parts are surprisingly difficult. The Decathlon mode is new to the game, where you can compete for the highest score by playing all the mini-games. The game also features an online leaderboard so you can compare yourself.
All in all, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is still fun to play, despite some of the criticisms mentioned above. It’s not a game that will explode sales, but there’s a good amount of content and it’s a fun game to play in a short period of time. I preferred the single-player content to the many, and in the end I couldn’t help but regret that Sega only released the first two games as an HD collection. But if you fancy a monkey balloon, this should quench your thirst.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Flash HD Overview
- Charts – 7.5/10
- Sound – 8/10
- Gameplay – 5/10
- Late Complaint – 6.5/10
Final thoughts: GOOD PAGE
Usually, when a company goes to the trouble of converting a game to HD, they choose the best of the series, but Sega chose Super Monkey Ball : Banana Blitz HD on current game consoles. While it’s not a bad game, I think most people consider the first two GameCube games to be the best in the series. It’s still wacky and delivers entertainment results, but cumbersome controls, pointless boss fights and tepid multiplayer mini-games prevent it from achieving true greatness.
Craig has been involved in the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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