The Monkey Ball series has been around for quite some time. Sega has done a number of things with the series over the years and it remains one of the most unique franchises in gaming. When the Nintendo Wii came onto the scene, its motion sensing controls produced a ton of excitement for fans of the series, as they seemed the perfect fit for Monkey Ball. The combination of the Wii and Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is indeed a winning one, and the result is the most creative, interesting, and best Monkey ball game to date.
The control scheme for Banana Blitz works extremely well. It’s the best gameplay of any Monkey Ball game to date, which is saying a lot. In the main game, each level is a floating platform containing different obstacles, a start and a finish, and bananas for you to collect. The object is to get your monkey ball to the finish in the time allotted. The levels get increasingly more difficult as the game progresses. You’ll control your monkey ball using the Wii remote only. You’ll hold it like a TV remote, and simply tilt it forward and backward to accelerate and decelerate, and tilt it left and right to turn. The A button will make you jump. There is a learning curve to the controls, but once you get the hang of it, it is really quite intuitive and addicting. At first you’ll be running into things, and falling off the sides of the levels left and right, but don’t give up—you’ll get the hang of it.
If you’re familiar with the series, you know how the game is set up, and this time around is no different. You’ve got your main game mode, or story mode, and you’ve got your party games. Although the highlight of the game is the party gaming, the story mode is actually quite fun. Yes, there is actually a story. It’s not much—basically you are controlling one of your choice of monkeys as you work your way through multiple worlds, ultimately trying to defeat the final boss, thus making the monkey universe happy once again. It feels a bit tacked on, but at least it gives you something to work towards. The Monkey Ball series is known for its party games, and this edition is no different, but rest assured that the single player mode will actually keep you busy for quite some time.
The multiplayer party games are really where this game shines, and this is no surprise. There are some 50 party games you can play, and they are especially fun when you get some friends involved. It is some of the best multiplayer action you’ll find anywhere. You’ll find a number of games that will look very familiar if you’re a Monkey Ball regular, but you’ll also find many new games that are very creative and will keep you and your buddies busy for quite a while. For some of the party games, you will need both the Wii-remote and the nunchuck to play, but for some you’ll be able to play with only the remote. It’s about half and half. The controls are implemented very well into the party games. Whether you’re landing a jet-pack-equipped monkey on a target or jumping rope, the controls are spot on accurate, and satisfying.
The visuals in Banana Blitz aren’t anything too special, but they are colorful and bright, and they get the job done. In this game, there really is no need for flashy graphics. The presentation, including the colorful environments and familiar light, happy music, is sufficiently creative and pleasing.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is one of the most fun Wii titles out there, and makes the best use of the controls. It’s a sign of great things to come for party games on the system—let’s just hope developers follow up. If you’re a fan of the series, or even if you’re not, this is an easy recommend for any Wii owner up for some fun.