It must've been a strange night in Japan when Amusement Vision sat down five years ago to discuss their next arcade project. You can almost imagine the stunned silence when one brave person murmured something about monkeys in balls. Who'd have thought that five years later we'd have three console iterations, two handheld games and it being one of the flagship titles for the Nintendo Wii on launch day. A massive cult following is looking to Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz to move the series into a new era of frustrating yet brilliant puzzles and sublime mini-games. Does it manage to do this with the magic of the Wiimote on its side? Let's see...
A generation of male and female gamers will be bald. I have no facts to back this up but I'm confident the sands of time will prove me right. The reason for this baldness? Super Monkey Ball of course; has any other game in the past 5 years prompted more people to tear their hair out? We still have nightmares about several levels in the original here at C3 and yet the series didn't die in popularity with us. Why? Well despite being incredibly frustrating it was utterly fair, controls were precise and you always had control over your monkey ball. Never did you feel the need to blame the game, you blamed your own lack of skill. So when that element of perfect of control is removed what do you have left? You have Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz.
The Wiimote is a strange beast. Technically it offers precision control but we know now that in reality it doesn't really. It offers realistic control but that is not always precision control. Get your slingshot out in Zelda and hold in B to get the reticule up. Try and hold it exactly still for a few minutes... can you do it? Of course not? Blood flow, heartbeat, breathing and muscles tiring all mean your arm and hand moves oh so slightly. So why make a game that requires such exact controls dependant on such a sensitive control mechanism? Well it's what Banana Blitz did and it promptly ruined the single player game. You see, level design is still as brilliant as ever and you still have that yearning to guide your monkey to the goals. But whereas in previous games there was no barrier between gamer and game now you have the Wiimote. To control your monkey you just tilt forward, left and right to move the ball in the relevant direction. The a button gives you the brand new jump ability and that's it. Sounds fine, except in practise it's awful.
Invariably it involves you holding your hand tilted to the ground at 45° and then twisting your hand whilst still in that angle whilst all the time tapping a. Sounds comfy doesn’t it….as comfy as a trip to a London sushi bar. Now, let us go back to testing precision control with the Wiimote. Try it whilst holding your hand angled downwards to the floor….in agony yet? Now imagine trying to complete a Monkey Ball stage like that. It isn’t unknown for you to be just by the goal when your wrist gives in and twitches throwing your ball into the abyss. It’s made worse by having the new boss stages in there, which just cheapens the whole single player package. Guess what, EVERY boss involves you jumping at someone or on something, thrilling. Super Monkey Ball isn’t about platform esque bosses (Super Monkey Ball Adventure proved that…), it’s about puzzles and fun. Why have these boss fights tacked on? Previous games didn’t have them and were amazing so why shove them in? There’s no need to “showcase” the new jump ability as the plethora of shortcuts in traditional levels do that admirably, and the boss fights add nothing to the game…so why have it? A small mystery for you to ponder on these cold winter nights.
Wii, we...us... as in more than one person. It's what the Wii launch is all about really, multiplayer gaming. Getting the whole family around the TV to play games, and any gamer will no nothing is more fun that Super Monkey Ball's party games. So it follows that fifty of them with Wiimote support should be bliss...erm...well...again it doesn't manage this perfectly. They fall into three categories; can't control, boring or old. Old is fine, Monkey Target is back (slightly changed) but still great. Monkey race is as frantic as ever and golf is well...golf. The can't control bunch will get one play before being abandoned and rightfully so. Monkey sumo wrestling should be sublime, but good luck controlling it. You also have mini games like hurdles in there which can be controlled, but only for about 3 games before your arms fall off. Think track and field for the twenty first century and you'll have an idea of the pain. Finally the boring group. Through a crucial lack of depth this motley crew end up sending any poor gamer foolish enough to buy a game before reading the C3 review into a coma they shant wake up from. I mean, balancing bugs on a stick? That's tech demo fodder, not final game quality and certainly not the quality we expect from Amusement Vision. You know you have a problem when people will compare your game to Wii Play and think your game is more shallow, and that's what's happened with the once revered Monkey Ball multiplayer mode.
The Wii has the power to innovate, the power to bring gaming into a new era and open everyone's eyes to the wonderful industry we're all a part of. But some developers have to learn that some franchises will simply not make the transition and will have to be put to sleep like an old dog. The annoying thing is Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz isn't one of them! For example, holding the Wiimote as it's held in Excitetruck would go a long way to solving the control problem...even if it doesn't then we have a marvelous nunchuck with analogue stick and accelerometer. Surely those talented people at Amusement Vision could figure something out that doesn't cripple the gamer. As for the mini-games, just take your time when making them next time! Quality over quantity and three amazing games will get more kudos then fifty bad ones, as review scores for the previous SMB games showed. Now next to Twilight Princess all launch titles look weak, but there are still better things to spend your money on. Like maybe a copy of the original Super Monkey Ball...the Wii is backwards compatible. Thankfully.
Wii should make controlling games second nature, quite how Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz got past quality control with this wrist crushing control scheme is beyond us. Makes what should be a genre defining game unplayable. Combine this with lacklustre multiplayer modes and awful boss fights and you have a VERY low score.
Bright, hardly the best ever but do the job effectively in that typical overly exuberant Monkey Ball way. If you like bright, cute graphics then look no further.
Repetitive, cutsy, bouncy yet vaguely electronic music. Good at first then you will hit mute, guarenteed to annoy you and those in your house.
Single player mode (even with wrist snapping) shouldn't last more than 3 nights, multiplayer mode is where you'll spend your time and with fifty mini games you will spend a great deal of time in there if you enjoy the game.
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Oh deary dear, sad to see a great series slip into an average score. But this feels so rushed, control scheme just doesn't work and the mini games feel more like tech demos. We could say it's typical launch day gaming but the original launched with the Gamecube and is still a great experience. This is just lazy, avoid at all costs.
I dunno if I can agree with you about this mate. The control is a bit off at times, but it's mostly decent. They did mutilate some of the multiplayer (monkey target for example) but there are some really fun games in there too, like darts. I also really enjoyed the music :P
IGN said it was the best monkey ball to date...
Is there a setting hidden away at like size 1 font to improve the control scheme then?
Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++
Sounds to me like not a controll issue at all, but a game difficulty issue.
Monkey Ball is basicly like the "ROCK AND ROLL MAZE", and tilt sensing its clearly a strong physologicaly and representational link that can only improve it.
...even if that makes it harder!
Purhapes the game should have been rebalanced to address this fact.
The same can apply well to other things like Wii Baseball.
Its harder then just hitting A to swing, but its good that its hard, because it feels more right.
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We have special effects and umm...stuff...
Yeah I have to disagree as well.
The controls (in the main game) works quite well, it is a little bit harder to play as you have to keep the controller still which is much harder than keeping an analogue stick still. But I find it a much more rewarding experience.
I don't think that the games really feels rushed much. Don't forget that this game was confirmed for the Gamecube a few years back.
Saying that though I am disappointed with many of the mini games. Most of them just aren't up to bar, especially the vehicle based ones. But out of the 50 games there are probably around 15 that are really enjoyable.
I don't think it's game difficulty, I explained how the previous games where as difficult but felt fair because there were zero issues with controls. With this there is an excuse, and a perfectly valid one. Can you honestly say you wouldn't go back to analogue control for SMB if offered?
And IGN said it was the best monkey ball...click for a much more reliable sites review
Oh yeah and someone actualli likes darts?! It's terrible! Oh and knighty you like the music...shameful :-P
Does anyone else think it would have controlled better if the controller was used on its side as in excite truck instead of normally?
Wow, harsh. Wasn't expecting that, I was considering picking it up at some point too.
I simply don't understand, how did this game achieve such above average scores even on sites like IGN & GameSpot? They both gave it scores over 8... Do you think maybe it's just SoE?
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In any case, I'm still gonna get it, I think liek Red Steel, it must be full of varied opinion, infact the averaged opinions of this game are higher than that of Red Steel.... so it must be good in some people's eyes. Considering I liked Monkey Ball Adventure, I'll probably like this anyway...
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sorry mate but i have to disagree as well as I've had this game since Friday and i think it's one of the best wii games out multiplayer alone is enough to give this game a 7.
The controls are a bit off though and i do prefer the analogue stick in single player.
I wouldn't want to fork out substantial money on a Wii title that uses the analogue stick for most/all of its control. If it is on Wii, it should use the technology. Reading over this and the EG review and having seen it in some detail in London in September I have to agree with the scores. Perhaps you were expecting a bit too much from it though John :-D
Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...
-Nothing can beat an anolouge stick
-SEGA continue to cock up what was originally a great game series (1 and 2 are the only GOOD SMB games)
I just completed pokemon yellow! 151 pokemon seen and caught.
Surely that's worth a star?
Roll on Korinipa....so to speak.
It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.
Perhaps you were expecting a bit too much from it though John
Perhaps, but these devs are a talented bunch and this game just does not deliver.
Just completed it this very minute. The controls were brilliant imo. If you can't hold it still...I dunno what you're doing. I found it alot easier to navigate thin platforms on this. Jumping was an odd idea however, that should be removed. And yes, darts is fun but nowhere near as fun as MONKEY WARS! :D:D
Some of the bosses were rather cool too, although some were SHITE, and the graphics were pretty awesome too. I loved how it blurred the background, and the water was pretty gorgeous like wind waker.
If I had to review it I'd probably give it an 8.5 I enjoyed the single player much more this time. Multiplayer is a tad worse.
Sorry, I cant agree ethier. This really is a great game, I would of at least gave it 7.
Most controversial review since giving Zelda 8.8 :-o
Makes what should be a genre defining game unplayable.
Well I must say I don't know what you're on about with this one. I love the Wiimote controls in this game. It's just perfect for it, and at the very least it kicks the shit out of the stylus control on the DS.
Combine this with lacklustre multiplayer modes and awful boss fights and you have a VERY low score.
Well I didn't get to do any boss fights, but 50 mini-games!? At least 2 of which I could play for about 4 hours in a row (And... Kinda did...
? You're inSAAAAAAAAAAAANE!!!
Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society