Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania (PlayStation 5) Review

By Steven Mattern 06.03.2022

Review for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania on PlayStation 5

Super Monkey Ball and its sequel are beloved by GameCube fans and speed-runners alike. Now the Japanese arcade turned console game series is back with a remake of SMB one and two, as well as Deluxe with all the levels, challenge and mini games therein. While Banana Blitz HD didn't quite hit the mark with its release, does Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania satisfy for some classic arcade fun?

Banana Mania is very akin to Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, where it primarily acts as a compilation of the original and the sequel with new additions. Since the Xbox and PlayStation 2 did not have the first couple games, this was the title to play. Banana Mania comes to every major console platform and delivers on this renewed promise. For all intents and purposes, this is classic Monkey Ball. Thankfully, it holds up quite well.

The artwork of this remake is bright and colourful to its benefit, much like Banana Blitz HD. Unity has proven to be a great engine for the series going forward and performance is rock solid on PS5, which is great to see. One wonders if SEGA ever considered 120 hertz support on current consoles. With a simple game like this, it might have been possible. This could be an avenue for them to pursue in the series' future.

Physics are at the core of the series DNA, and Unity does well as a game engine for it in some ways, but not in others. The level design is kept the same across the board, but the tilting and speed feel a little off and take some getting used to. Banana Mania feels like it has more momentum and speed, and after some time it is a change we grew to appreciate. Unfortunately the mini games suffer negatively, especially Monkey Target. Controlling a monkey felt too weightless here, and once it lands it stops almost immediately. Sometimes, hitting the target sweet spot required a little extra nudge, but it seemed like the capsule became solid as a rock right after touching the ground.

Screenshot for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania on PlayStation 5

One of, if not the best thing that this collection brings to the table is its approach to accessibility. Super Monkey Ball is a tough series and while it can inspire a feeling of accomplishment clearing harder levels, some feel really unfair. While the majority of level designs are great, some of them are needlessly difficult. One of the options available when playing the story is the option to mark a level as cleared. This allows players the ability to move on to the next stage when they feel like one is too much of a challenge. Along with this, lives are completely removed, creating a more smooth and approachable game. It is worth noting that using these options when playing the story does not lock out PlayStation trophies.

Bananas are still important to the game of course; this is a game about monkeys after all! Instead of contributing to a life counter, bananas are used for cosmetics and unlocking bonus modes or features. For example, the Jump ability from Banana Blitz returns but as something that requires just a bit of earning. We appreciate this because instead of giving a feature to make the game easier to control to players out the gate, players are encouraged to get used to the gameplay as-is first and then decide. Cosmetics are nice with capsules, clothes, and unlockable characters, but there are a couple caveats. For one, you can only clothe monkeys and not guest characters like Sonic and Tails. This is somewhat understandable but it would have been nice to see a couple clothing options or colour variants unique to them. While having guest characters from SEGA's present and past come to play it a novel idea, some of them like Morgana are in a paywall. Skins that make the monkeys look like they were in the originals as well and the classic soundtrack are also paid. It would have been good to earn these bonuses in the game as something to put in some extra effort for instead.

Screenshot for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is a surefire sign that the series was and still is great to play. The change in game engine adds a vibrant coat of paint while tweaking the physics to a slightly faster alternative. However, this does not change the fact that some levels are too stuck in the past. Topped off with some very welcome accessibility options, this package is well worth playing even if the mini games and customization have some notable downsides.

Developer

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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