I’m not monkeying around, you’re gonna go bananas for this Super Monkey Ball revival.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD’s gameplay revolves around guiding a small group of monkeys in balls across a series of intricate maze-like maps by tilting it, all whilst trying to grab as many bananas as you can along the way. It sounds zany as heck, but believe me, it works. Whilst the game originally released on the Wii with DREADFUL motion controls, it has now made a comeback with revamped visuals and controls that actually function (yay). Also, Sonic the Hedgehog is an unlockable character now and he collects rings instead of bananas – what more could you want?
I’m a little biased after loving the series for years, but I will admit I really disliked the game when I played it on the Wii – I’m happy to report that this time around it’s a whole lot more enjoyable. The gameplay itself is easy to play but difficult to master, whilst trying to collect as many bananas as you can to get those high scores across levels that become more hazardous and intricate is incredibly satisfying. It’s a simple experience, sure, but it works so well.
It can be challenging though, especially for players who want to get all of those elusive bunches of bananas that are scattered across each level’s more difficult areas. A lot of these are optional, but the risk involved in making your way through these sections makes it all the more rewarding when you succeed. However, I will admit that the move from motion controls to traditional can also make Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD feel a bit too easy in places – it’s almost as if the developer catered the levels for bad controls the first time around, so now that they actually work it can make some levels feel a bit too easy.
So I’ve got a lot of love for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, but even I’ll admit it has its flaws. For example, the camera can go out of control at times and can make some of the game’s more difficult sections even harder to get through, whilst the end of stage bosses are just frustrating – each one has a weak spot that the player has to hit to dwindle down their health, but doing so either manages to feel boring or annoying.
The Super Monkey Ball series has always been known for having a fun selection of mini-games to play through, but Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD’s is a bit so-so. The original Wii release had fifty to play through, but it has been trimmed down to just ten here; it makes sense given that a lot of the original ones depended on motion controls, but it was a selling point of the game the first time around. They could’ve made up for it by including Monkey Football from Super Monkey Ball 2, but that’s not here either – instead you’ve got to settle for the likes of hurdles, whack-a-mole and snowboarding which are not exactly the highlights of the Super Monkey Ball catalogue).
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a whole lot of fun, with the revamped controls, the clever level design, and the risk vs reward gameplay of hunting bananas making for a great experience throughout. Heck, even Sonic the Hedgehog makes an appearance, which will just add to SEGA fans’ delight.
Admittedly, it does have its flaws with the iffy camera and poor bosses standing out as the worst, but otherwise Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a welcome return to form for one of SEGA’s more unique video game franchises.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC