Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 29.10.2019

Review for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD on Nintendo Switch

After the original arcade game, which boasted a rather comical banana joystick to move its monkeys around, was adapted for console during the GameCube era, Super Monkey Ball became one of the most beloved and fun platform puzzle games of its time. Who knew that Toshihiro Nagoshi, the man behind the gritty Yakuza series a bit further down the line, would create such a cutesy, intelligent, and extremely addictive title that spawned multiple games thereafter? Its third main entry, Banana Blitz, took full advantage of the motion controls of the Wii, and isn't considered the best in the series by a majority of people, so it's rather unexpected to see it ported over to Switch before any of the others that were such classics on GameCube.

The concept of shoving monkeys in giant balls and letting them roll around perilous mazes and winding arenas that float 50,000 feet in the air is a hilarious and almost sadistic one. These cheeky chappies seem to get a real kick out of this, though, speeding around what can sometimes quite easily double as mini rollercoasters! This bizarre idea has garnered such a fan following that it's no surprise to see it brought back for Switch. Banana Blitz HD is familiar territory when compared to the first two main games, but the twist here is that a dedicated jump ability is gifted to the monkeys, altering gameplay a notch.

Motion controls are now non-existent, with the traditional method of using the control stick to tilt the stage and allow the selected monkey to roll depending on the gradient applied thankfully taking precedent here. Some may remiss the lack of a motion-controlled option given that the Joy-Con controllers and Switch Pro Controller feature gyro sensors, and that, once practice was put in with the original, many preferred the Wii Remote's unique style. Personally speaking, however, nothing beats playing Monkey Ball with an analogue stick.

The camera could be controlled through the nunchuk on the Wii version, but this seems to be removed entirely on Switch, with the right stick being useless in the main game. A small shame, but this does bring back just an extra degree of challenge, since the first two entries never had this option either. Jumping is tied to the A button, and while it adds another element to gameplay that could be seen as freshening up the formula, it's an aspect that throws in too much of a platforming side to a game that was better without it.

Screenshot for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD on Nintendo Switch

Monkeys all come with different stats, such as speed, bounce, jump, size and weight, and again, this is something that didn't necessarily need to be incorporated into what was a simple game to begin with. There has always been a random element to Monkey Ball, especially with the later stages that add in all sorts of twists and loops and hazards, but including more handicaps in the form of size, bounce and weight can be just a bit too much. Sure, the game should be able to be completed with any one of the monkeys on offer, but the additional characteristics don't so much as improve the overall gameplay as they do hinder it.

The main game that features eight worlds of eight stages (plus one bonus and one boss stage) is the core of Banana Blitz HD. Even now, this cleverly designed control system feels so incredibly joyful and smart, whereby it isn't the monkey ball being moved manually, but the course itself. There are many tightly made stages that you can feel a great sense of accomplishment from completing, but there is no doubt that things get crazy quickly when it comes to the stage designs, hazards and RNG thrown in. Many of these courses are beyond ridiculous to the point some players may give up on finishing the story mode entirely. That isn't to mention the poorly slapped together bosses you must beat before moving onto the next world. Monkey Ball was never designed as a jumping platformer game, and it shows massively when attempting to not only clear specific jump-based courses, but in trying to beat these frustratingly cheap bosses. Perfect world clears can come to a rapid end thanks to these clunky brutes alone.

While the Wii original featured 50 mini-games, these have been stripped down to just ten; however, the ones that remain are mostly fan favourites that have been enhanced that bit more. With the likes of Monkey Target, Whack-a-Mole, Monkey Snowboard, Slingshot and Space Monkey Attack on offer, multiplayer remains one of the big reasons this series is great for parties and get-togethers. The newly added Decathlon mode also makes players compete in every single one, as they try to rack up the best overall score for the worldwide leaderboards. Time Attack for the main stages comes with its own rankings, too.

Screenshot for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Not the entry fans of the series would have preferred to see get ported, but Banana Blitz HD is worth checking out for anyone that never played it on Wii, or those that just couldn't deal with the motion controls back then. It isn't the best example of what Super Monkey Ball is all about, as the unnecessary difficulty of the stages, additional random elements and terrible boss battles can really hamper the fun, but as a party game, it still hits the spot. If you really miss playing with monkeys in balls, this is your best option right now, but let's hope SEGA sees fit to bring the superior first two games over in the near future.

Developer

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Puzzle

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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