The Super Monkey Ball series first launched on the Nintendo Gamecube back in 2001 and has since had a total of 18 games across various platforms. One of my most played games in the series was a launch title for the Wii in 2006—Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. While it did have some issues, what made it interesting was the inclusion of boss battles, and 50 mini-games.
Now, 13 years later, the game is getting an HD remake in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. New features include a Time Attack Mode and the ability to unlock new costumes for each of the characters and more. Let’s take a look at Banana Blitz HD and see how well it holds up in 2019.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Developer: SEGA / RGG Studio
Genre: Action platformer
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Recover the stolen Golden Banana Bunch piece by piece
The Super Monkey Ball games have never been known for their stories and Banana Blitz HD follows suit. The story mode introduces a new character, Captain Crabuchin. Strangely enough, he was previously confused to be Dr. Bad-Boon.
Regardless, Crabuchin has stolen the illustrious Golden Banana Bunch. As a result, AiAi and friends set out to recover all the pieces of the Golden Banana Bunch, which have been scattered across various worlds in the game.
Race against time to reach the goal
When the game first released on Wii in 2006, gameplay was all about motion controls and taking advantage of the Wii Remote. Now, 13 years later, motion controls in games are more of a novelty. As a result, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD has no motion controls at all on any of the platforms.
There are 6 initial characters you can choose from: AiAi, MeeMee, Baby, GonGon, YanYan, and Doctor. And, Sonic is an unlockable character. Each character has his or her own characteristics that give them distinct advantages. As a result, some levels are easier to complete with certain characters than others. The game includes the same 100 single-player levels from the original game, which have seen some visual improvements. Your goal is to make it to the end of the stage by building as much speed as you can while avoiding any obstacles and trying not to fall off the edges.
This is all fine and dandy but Banana Blitz HD’s controls are unforgiving. Many times I found myself flying over the edges or bouncing around with just the slightest press. To be honest, it reminded me very much of the controls in games on the NES from the 80s and 90s. Banana Blitz HD is definitely not a game made with the casual gamer in mind.
At the end of each of the game’s worlds are boss battles. These encounters range from uninspiring to down right frustrating because of the game’s controls. In some instances, you have to hit a certain spot on the boss in order to inflict damage to them. In my experience, it was hit and miss, mostly miss. While I did experiment with using different characters on different bosses, it made very little difference.
Colourful cartoon like-visuals with moderate upgrades
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD retains the same colourful cartoon like-visuals with moderate visual improvements. I did like the various boss designs, with World 5’s octopus being my favourite.
Surprisingly, camera issues from the 2006 Wii version of the game have made it into Banana Blitz HD and at times feel worse. As a result, many times, the camera locks onto bosses, making it difficult to navigate. And, rolling around a boss results in the camera having a mind of its own and spinning like crazy.
The soundtrack has been revamped and the user interface has been modernized. These were nice touches but only marginally enhanced my overall experience.
New and additional modes
The original game on Wii included 50 mini-games that used the Wii Remote in various different ways. With motion controls not present in Banana Blitz HD, the number of mini-games has been reduced to 10. While Snowboarding and Monkey Target are mildly entertaining, they are nothing to write home about. The saving factor in these 10 mini-games are local couch co-op. I did have somewhat of a fun time bumbling through each of these games with 3 other family members.
A Decathlon mode has been added and challenges you to compete in all 10 mini-games in a row. At the end, your high score is posted to an online leaderboard. Additionally, there is a new single-player Time Attack mode that allows you to compete with players from around the world via online leaderboards.
Finally, each character now has a variety of different cosmetic costumes that you can unlock. With no gameplay advantage associated with these costumes, I really had no incentive to unlock them all.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a game for diehard Super Monkey Ball fans
While SEGA and RGG Studio have included some updates in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, they could have included a lot more. I would have liked to seen gameplay further refined so that casual gamers could pickup and play. As it stands right now, Banana Blitz HD requires pinpoint accuracy that can easily lead to frustration.
If you are a long time and diehard Super Monkey Ball fan, you’ll enjoy Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. On the other hand, if you’ve never played a game in the series and are a casual fan, you’ll probably just end up frustrated with the game’s controls.
I hope that SEGA will still continue the Super Monkey Ball franchise. I would really like to see a new modern entry in the series that appeals to all types of gamers.
+ Two new modes have been added
+ Updated visuals
+ Sonic is an unlockable character
– Game requires precise controls that can be frustrating at times
– Camera locks onto bosses making it difficult to navigate around them
– Difficulty level rises substantially very quickly
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF SUPER MONKEY BALL: BANANA BLITZ HD
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating 3.1/5 (62%)
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I never played a Super Monkey Ball game, but I remember the levels from Super Mario Galaxy that had you balance Mario through a course as he stood on top of a ball with a star in it. I really enjoyed those levels, and I think I might also enjoy Super Monkey Ball. I’m sure it’s definitely worth giving a try! Thanks Jon for the review!
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