Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is an HD Remaster of the Wii classic and could very well be a strong suitor for current-gen consoles. Now, we have to ask: How does a first-time Super Monkey Ball player feel about this game? Find out in our review.
+Extremely fun and challenging levels
+Each character comes with their very own level of play
+Boss fights are fun, challenging, and add to the overall experience
+Multiplayer modes are fun and do add replayability
-No secondary ability to control camera angles
-Single-player does not have much replayability outside of Time Trials and Decathlon
Let’s face it, I’ve never played a Super Monkey Ball title as long as I’ve known them to be around. Whether it was the GameCube, the 3DS, or the Vita – I’ve somehow managed to avoid the franchise as a whole. For me, I saw a game that would be infuriating, difficult, and one I wouldn’t get to enjoy due to the amount of precision it requires in order to complete each and every level you would experience.
Let alone did that idea bother me, so did the idea of trying to bounce a monkey in a rubber ball around a level, collecting every banana on the level, and then continuing on in order to get to the boss level at the end of each and every chapter. It was a painstaking idea and one I wasn’t exactly sold upon by any means necessary. For me, it was a hard pill to swallow, but eventually, I knew this would happen,
So here we are, with the PlayStation 4 build of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD thanks to our pals at SEGA. So, as a first-timer, we’re going to be reviewing this title as someone who has gone in completely blind to the series.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a great starting point for fans
Before we truly begin, you have to know something simple: There’s no story what-so-ever. If there is, I’ve absolutely missed it, which is okay, I had a lot of fun with the levels, which will discuss in-depth here rather soon. As someone who is new to the series, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a solid starting point.
I know several veterans who have actually stated it wouldn’t be, mostly for the fact I’m a rookie player, and because of that, I’m one of those who can get easily frustrated with games such as this. Without much hesitation, I decided to jump straight into the single-player experience, picking Baby as my character of choice to use.
Once started, I was given a simple tutorial to the game. It was simple too, go through every stage, collect as many banana’s as you can to get an extra life, twenty banana’s to be exact, and then make your way to the end of the level. Once there, you’ll be jettisoned into a portal, heading off towards your next level to complete.
However, navigating is a different story. You’ll end up using a single thumbstick to explore, using your left one in order to move left, right, or forward. Your right thumbstick isn’t exactly useful, it’s dead weight and it would have been nice to have a way in order to move the camera left and right or completely around in case you need to backtrack.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD really does need you to backtrack a bit
As stupid as it sounds, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD does require you to backtrack a bit. It’s not because you can’t actually complete the level without moving forward, but the hardcore focus on full completions is actually quite important whether you believe it or not.
Some of the boss fights, for example, will eat through your valuable lives quicker than you might expect. It’s difficult and I wish I was actually kidding. Guiding your monkey through those first few goals then going up against your first boss is a doozie. It actually is quite the doozie and it’ll take a bit out of you without you being completely ready for what’s about to happen.
Your movements, however, are excruciatingly important and you will need to make sure you move just right in order to complete each and every level. The controls, while simple, can become rather tedious and they will require quite a bit of finesse in order to carry on. Each movement of your stick doesn’t move just your monkey, it also moves the stage, and that’s where the real challenge comes into play.
Once you get acquainted with the controls, the pacing, and the monkey you are using, it’s a blast, it really is. The only catch is that the game does get progressively harder as you proceed. I found myself getting stuck quite a few times when attempting to bounce off a moving bridge into the next portion of the level only to get batted off the edge into a pit by a spinning log.
Sometimes, you just have to jump over it and move slightly to the right. Trust me when I say this: Take your time to practice the game, it matters, and it will pay off in the end. You’ll have time to do this though, you have 10 stages to worth through with 10 levels each. 100 levels in total to roll your monkey through. It’s a lot of work and some of the levels are absolutely trying.
Since motion controls were at the core of the original game, I’m sure this one would have benefited from using the PlayStation Move controllers or the DualShock 4’s Six-Axis capabilities, but I honestly wouldn’t know. Again, this is my first Super Monkey Ball game.
Time Trials are great for those wanting to truly put their skills to the test
Now, if you want to put your skills to the test, there are Time Trials, which as fun as they sound, are extremely hard. These trials will absolutely test your ability to move through every level as quick as you can. Once you get the hang of it, however, the payoff is amazing and the feeling of completing a level can be rather exhilarating.
The downside of this game? There’s not just a ton of incentive to go back through the campaign regardless of the fact you only used one monkey at the end of the day. I guess that’s where the Time Trials do come into play as does the leaderboards. You can continue to put your skills to the test, showing off against other players if and when you can.
But let me tell you this. When you get to the tenth and final set, that’s where the game really begins to take note of itself and finds its stride. I was impressed when this happened to be the case as I’d grown irritated with how easy some of the levels actually were. Even in the Time Trials, it’s fun, and I’ve found quite a bit of reason to keep trying to get better and better as I went.
There are even multiplayer minigames that I couldn’t deny giving a shot
One of the big things I will admit that I enjoy for the sake of replayability is the multiplayer minigames when you have a pal or three to play with. Having decided to give them a shot, I gave two of the ten games a chance with a pal of mine, taking off through each and every one of them the best we could. The ones I spent the most time with were Dangerous Route, a three-level top-down version of the core game itself and Monkey Target.
While there are plenty more, eight more to be exact, I didn’t mind the idea of hang-gliding as a monkey and attempting to land on a distant target the best I could. Unfortunately, one issue I have here is that these games, which are fun for a short period, are very short-lived and are only really kept around for decent party games. You’ll have more fun with the ‘Decathlon’ mode in the long run. It just chains all the minigames together in order to place in on an online leaderboard.
But trust me when I say this: All of them take a certain amount of finesse in order to complete. Snowboarding got me the most when in the Decathlon mode.
One last bounce on the way out – The Conclusion
As someone who has never experienced a Super Monkey Ball title before, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD isn’t a bad starting place. In truth, I enjoy it and I’ve had quite a bit of fun with the game. Truth is, it has me wanting to go back, play the ones I’ve yet to play, and really give the series a chance.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4. Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: SEGA of America, Amusement Vision
Publisher: SEGA of America
Release Date: Available Now
While I’m sure there have been minor changes made from the original release, I still have to say this has been a rather fun experience, one that I’m glad that I didn’t turn down since it seems that this game is a small step in the direction of bringing the series back to life.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game for review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.