Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD | Sonic Rolls In!
Who it Caters to
When Super Monkey Ball released originally in the arcades in Japan in 2001, no one had much expectation about how the title would perform. Known for its wild and crazy gameplay, taking advantage of tight controls and tricky obstacles, Super Monkey Ball suddenly became a household name when it was released on the Gamecube, and since then several iterations of the game have been made. When the game made its way to the Wii as Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz however, is truly where the game shined because it took advantage of the Wiis motion controls, which assisted in creating a more frantic and challenging experience for fans, while maintaining its integrity as a fun arcade series. Fast forward to today and the Super Monkey Ball craze is back, as the Nintendo Switch gets the ball rolling with Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD, taking all of the things players loved from the Wii version and throwing more potassium into the mix.
What to Expect
One of the obvious major changes that Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD showcases is of course, the revamped visuals that now take advantage of the future hardware, allowing for a more seamless experience for players. Gone are the gyromotion-controls that were found in the Wii and now players can take advantage of tighter controls with the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller, adding more precision to performance. We’ll get more into the pros and cons, no pun intended, later in the gameplay section, but expect to jump into a familiar world with far better execution and a whole lot of fun!
The main point to touch on which we mentioned in the earlier paragraph will be the visuals, which have clearly seen a drastic update from its Wii predecessor. Admittedly, there are still some remnants of the Wii version which still surface from time to time such as outdated character animations and level design, but much of it is glossed over with a nice touch of high definition paint, which helps to give the game more shine. The menu screens have been updated to create a more impactful and eye-catching experience, while the UI still remains clean and allows players to focus on getting the ball rolling towards the finish line. Sega did a great job of ensuring that players can still reminisce about the classic Wii version, but entice new players to truly enjoy the Super Monkey Ball universe in a fresh new way.
The Super Monkey Ball series has been known more for its very wild and exciting gameplay and less attention was placed on its audio category, which to be quite honest isn’t bad at all. It’s just a lot of the time, most of your attention is glued on the obstacles in front of you, as your goal is to not fly off course and lose all of your bananas. The music is quite fitting and does compliment the frantic arcade action taking place, and with the addition of Sonic along with his classic 90’s appeal, Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD definitely hits the spot. It’s a nice fusion of old and new which helps to develop a great dynamic when racing through the game.
Gameplay in Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD is everything you’d expect from the series, especially for those who have dabbled with past iterations of the title. The objective is simple, collect as many bananas along the long and twisted obstacles before reaching the goal. Easier said than done because each monkey in the game will play a lot differently, and will require a delicate touch in order to successfully maneuver around without flying off into oblivion. AiAi is the mainstay character of the series and as such, much of his attributes focus more on a well-rounded approach, while others will have their own strengths and weaknesses. One good example is our favorite the Doctor who excels in being a heavyweight, making it easier to stay grounded and maneuver around without much concern about going off-stage. However, due to his heavier stature he’s unable to clear very big jumps which can often lead to early deaths and he can’t take as many risks for that matter. So the game entices you to play around with the cast and strategize as to which Monkey best suits the stage, and how their stats influence the outcome.
Collecting bananas in Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD is incredibly rewarding and once you start to master each stage, understanding its intricate layouts, you can start to use clever tactics to avoid certain obstacles in order to successfully create a better time. This of course is quite common in the speedrunning community where scoring the best time is integral to your gameplan, but for those who simply want to enjoy the game at a casual pace, it’s very possible. You can go as slow as you want or as frantic as you want, so long as you get to have fun not only with yourself but with friends as well.
New modes have also been implemented to ensure a fresh experience such as Time Attack Mode with leaderboards and Decathlon Mode, where the player can challenge themselves to beat 10 mini-games in a row. This, along with enhancements to various mini-games, gives Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD a nice extra added dose of potassium and an explosion of fun that you couldn’t get much in the Wii version.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Where the Wii version suffered the Nintendo Switch version prevailed, immediately tackling issues pertaining to controls which were the main culprit. Allowing players to have a more versatile experience using the Pro Controller along with Joy-Cons adds brand new elements of gameplay, and create more precision without robbing players of the overall gameplay experience. The overall visual upgrades do help to revive the game in a good way but the game clearly still clings onto its Wii days with its clumsy character animations and clunky camera controls. There were several times where the camera would just fly all over the place creating confusion, causing us to die because we couldn’t see where the stage was. This was especially the case during boss battles as the camera would auto lock to the boss at times, and create moments where you just would fall off the platform which was annoying for sure. Other than that though, the game overall does a fantastic job of remaining fun and engaging without robbing fans of the series in any way. The new modes are a wonderful addition, especially Decathlon, and having Sonic in the game is that chocolate syrup bonus that you can smear all over your Banana Split.
The game still retains much of the exciting aspects of the original, while adding more elements to create fun new challenges.
The addition of Sonic as a free character was also nice, especially throwing in his trademark music to create even more nostalgic moments.
The game was remade by Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, the same wonderful folks behind the Yakuza and Judgement series.
Hours can easily go by while playing this with friends, as there’s just so much to explore and figure out on the fly as you play.
The game sadly suffers from outdated animations of characters and so while visually the game looks better, the functionality of characters is still in the Wii days.
Camera motions at times made maneuvering around quite challenging, which ultimately led us to dying more times than we should.
Honey's Final Verdict:
In the end, Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD is still a blast to play whether you’re going at it solo for the best time, or just running a muck with your friends and family during game nights. Whatever your choice of gameplay this title allows you to go at it with full throttle, and greatly rewards you once a deeper understanding is developed. We hope this review was insightful and helped you to better gauge whether this is the title to buy or pass on. Be sure to check out our other insightful reviews by hitting up our gaming section, and of course, if you want to catch us live streaming hit us up at Twitch.tv/honeysgaming!
Until next time!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!