AiAi and the rest of his primate pals are back in action with the release of SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. A lot has happened since its debut on the Wii in 2006 – does it prove to be more fun than a barrel full of you-know-whats?
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD Review
In the aptly titled “Main Game” mode of this title, the goal is simple – get to the goal. Taking control of the cutest of monkeys, it’s up to players to roll from one part of a stage to the other in a multicolored ball. However, the game’s not going to make this easy for you – all stages are set above a bottomless pit, and there are hazards a-plenty that are eager to knock you off course. Snowballs, wind, spiky poles, and countless other moving objects are determined to make the player fail. Consider this game akin to a technologically advanced version of the Labyrinth puzzle game, albeit with considerably more monkeys, bright colors, and overall weirdness.
However, in a game where careful movement is absolutely critical, Banana Blitz misses the mark. In what is a throwback in the worst possible way, the camera found here is absolutely atrocious. The slightest movement violently jerks the camera every which way, making careful planning in even the earlier stages a pipe dream. When one must factor in the jump mechanic or navigate a bouncy platform, things quickly devolve into a disorienting mess. There is no movement mapped to the second analog stick either, so players are at the mercy of where the game takes them.
The sad part is that the game is not difficult in and of itself for a good portion of the title. Bananas can be found wherever you look, and collecting a set amount nets players more lives than they know what to do with. Later levels do have outlandish setups, but those who can adjust to its mechanics and gimmicks can finish a stage sooner rather than later. Even the bosses are borderline pandering, with large arrows and crosshairs showing weak spots, and incredibly long telegraphed attacks. However, actually pulling things off with the wonky system is the hard part.
It’s not like players will have to worry about this camera for too long though. Set in a number of different themed worlds (including your garden variety ice, desert, cave, and jungle settings), certain stages are overly short – we’re talking a matter of seconds. There are some alternate paths and longer stages to be had, but these prove to be time-consuming more than anything else. For those looking for replay value, unlockable content and a number of Champion Medals can be had for completing each world without continuing. A grading system would have been a better fit, but this is not a terrible compromise.
Note that there is a Time Attack mode available with online leaderbaoards. Neatly divided into Casual, Standard, and Expert, it has players running through a suite of levels, with larger gauntlets unlocking as players progress through the Main Game. This is a fun novelty, but it doesn’t do anything drastically different.
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